Stay-at-homes get wraparound

By Susan Edmunds

Cover-up a sign that repairing leaky buildings is gathering speed.

Chris Ramsey at one of the buildings his company has shrinkwrapped. Photo / Michael Craig
Chris Ramsey at one of the buildings his company has shrinkwrapped. Photo / Michael Craig

Think you're seeing more homes and buildings than ever cocooned in white plastic wrap? You're right.

More than 10 companies in Auckland are piggybacking on the leaky home crisis, charging thousands of dollars to wrap housing in plastic.

It has made tarpaulins on building sites a thing of the past. But increasingly popular shrinkwrapping, most commonly used to protect leaky buildings when they are having their cladding repaired, doesn't come cheap.

Chris Ramsey, of Shrinkmaster, said his company dealt with as many as six jobs a week, a big increase on the same time last year.

Shrinkwrapping was becoming standard because it enabled people to remain in their homes while they were fixed and reduced downtime caused by bad weather.

He said the cost of wrapping varied widely but an average house could cost more than $10,000 to completely wrap, or $3000 to wrap partially. Owners paid a weekly rental for the wrap of as much as $600.

Ramsey said it was a better option than the traditional tarpaulin, which was heavy, dark and dingy. "You take it off to let daylight in and then have to put it back on at night," Ramsey said.

"With shrinkwrap, a reclad might take four to six months. We might have to come back to patch it up after a storm but it's durable."

The hardest part had been convincing people it was the cheapest option in the long run. Sam McDonagh, of new firm Shrinkclad, said the expense at the beginning was paid back in the time saved. He said the wrap was fully recycled at the end of the job.

Roger Levie, chief executive of the Home Owners and Buyers Association, a group set up to help people who own leaky buildings, said in the scheme of a repair job the shrinkwrap wasn't a big deal. People could easily spend $200,000 and more.

"People do live in it but generally it's not advisable. Power and water are often disrupted."

He said the fact that more buildings were shrinkwrapped was a sign of the pick-up in the rate at which leaky buildings were being fixed.

"There's a lot more fixing going on now than there was," Levie said. "People who were waiting are now getting on and repairing and that's why you're seeing more."

More than 10 companies specialise in shrinkwrapping and some scaffolding companies also provide it.

- Herald on Sunday

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