Beyond the façade

Influencing so much more than just street appeal, your home’s exterior cladding has the potential to impact its energy efficiency, weathertightness and ultimately, its sale price.

Bayleys property reporter Katharina Charles investigates which exterior aesthetics are proving most popular with Auckland’s buyers.

As your home’s first statement and point of defence against the elements, exterior cladding sets the tone for the design features contained within. And thanks to the Kiwi fascination with residential property, choosing the right cladding for your home today can often be motivated more by adding value than design flair.

Following the upward trajectory of house values across Auckland over the last decade, a growing number of inventive homeowners have looked at residential property as a pathway for wealth creation, be it through passive investment or hands-on ‘do-up’ projects.

Just last month, Statistics New Zealand reported that the number of new homes constructed across the country has reached a 45-year high, adding weight to the notion that our interest in housing, construction and the characteristics, application and costs of building materials have become water-cooler conversation.

Where advances in build technology, transport and shipping now offer greater choice in terms of workable materials, influential factors playing a part in the preference of Auckland’s homeowners when it comes to exterior cladding include sustainable sourcing, longevity, availability and trending design.

Following the leaky homes crisis which rocked New Zealand’s building and construction industry between 1994 and 2004, it’s clear all materials are not created equal and these variations in life-span, upkeep and aesthetic result in a spectrum of market value when it comes time to sell.

Tried and true

A quick glance at Auckland’s most popular suburbs shows that areas with a high percentage of colonial and heritage architecture continue to net the big bucks.

According to data from suburban areas in Auckland with the highest estimated median sale price include Herne and Saint Marys Bay’s on the northern slopes of the city fringe and Stanley Point in Devonport.

While all sharing a coveted waterside position which certainly adds value, these suburbs also have a high percentage of homes featuring colonial architecture and thus, common aesthetic themes which include weatherboard cladding.

Well-regarded as a versatile, familiar and sustainable cladding material, timber weatherboard is thought to have a maintenance cycle of eight-to-10 years, after which repainting with high quality paint will improve weathertightness and appearance.

Despite its comparatively high-maintenance nature, weatherboard continues to be the most popular exterior cladding option asked of small and mid-sized building businesses and those specialising in home renovations.

Given the popularity of timber weatherboard thanks to a renaissance of villa and bungalow architecture, it’s little surprise that brick is another exterior cladding option which continues to stay relevant and requested.

Illustrating a trend towards materials with perennial appeal, brick masonry has remained a sought-after siding option, demonstrated by the cult-like following and considerable lift in sale values of the one and two-bedroom brick and tile units characteristic of 1960s New Zealand.

Transcending the desire for an exterior aesthetic of yesteryear, brick has emerged as an attractive cladding option which has been utilised in the new millennium by residential development businesses.

Proving popular in new residential developments; brick has a reputation of lasting, structural quality.

Regarded as comparatively expensive, brick has been used efficiently in new residential subdivisions to create homes with cohesive, mixed material cladding; often where there is brick veneer or a combination of brick and weatherboard.

Modern developments

Advances in technology and the ability to quickly and easily transport materials long distances has meant that a wave of new options are available for those considering their exterior cladding choices.

An interesting alternative to traditional timber weatherboarding; man-made weatherboard is thought to retain its classic aesthetic while making maintenance that much easier for homeowners.

Often using fibre cement rather than natural timber, there are many brands of man-made weatherboard on the market at varying price-points and it pays to do your own due diligence before choosing the material best suited to your needs.

Similarly, the expense and non-renewable nature of natural stone has led to improving application techniques and the development of faux stone materials.

Establishing itself as a modernist material, popular with architects and those with bold design aspirations, concrete is becoming a prominent exterior look, thanks to its versatility and position as an excellent insulator. Requiring care and expertise to form, concrete too has evolved using modern techniques which reduce weight to make the construction process more efficient.

Monolithic cladding

Undoubtedly a catastrophic disaster for some 89,000 homeowners and countless builders, property developers and associated businesses, New Zealand’s leaky homes crisis is today still felt as an enduring stigma for monolithic plaster cladding.

Several factors came together to create the perfect construction storm in the early 1990s; complicated Mediterranean-style homes came in to vogue, Building Act conditions were relaxed and the use of untreated pine was allowed.

Thought to be a stylish, cost-effective and versatile siding option, plaster or monolithic cladding of the time used its paint finish as a barrier to water ingress, which when coupled with angular design, improper installation and untreated pine framing, in some cases led to decay, corrosion and water breaches.

Plaster cladding was so popular that an estimated one in five new homes between 1994 and 2004 were thought to be flanked in the material, which has led to a great debate about its suitability today.

Despite the fact that not all homes with monolithic cladding suffer from weathertightness issues, homes of this style have experienced the lowest value increase over the last decade.

In the research paper titled ‘Stigma, risk perception and the remediation of leaky homes in New Zealand’ lead author Dr Michael Rehm from the Auckland Business School’s Department of Property found that monolithic clad homes which had not undergone remediation for water ingress, suffered an average discount of nine percent on market value when re-sold.

Interestingly, the research also showed that previously leaky homes re-clad in the same material sold for six percent less, while homes re-clad in alternative materials, such as weatherboard, suffered no market discount.

In terms of popular preferences for exterior cladding, Aucklanders have shown an interest in modern options especially those which are cost effective and efficient, however a clear affinity for classic styles such as timber weatherboard and brick persist.

As your home’s outer shell, your choice of exterior cladding can be totally subjective and what’s to your taste may not be of popular opinion or remain in vogue for the years to come.

It is worthwhile to note that suitability to your budget, climate and lifestyle are therefore the best factors to consider when renovating or choosing an exterior aesthetic for your new home.


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