Sharon Leigh says after buying a supposedly solid house, her family discovered shocking leaky home problems - and the horror continues eight years later.
Leigh addressed the High Court in Auckland today, where the biggest leaky homes lawsuit in New Zealand history is under way.
The Porirua homeowner is one of hundreds of plaintiffs suing James Hardie companies for about $220 million in damages.
The James Hardie entities deny the claims, and earlier this week suggested bad builders, poor workmanship and industry deregulation were to blame for leaky home issues.
Leigh said she bought her house north of Wellington in early 2006 for about $453,000.
"Prior to purchase, we obtained a building inspection report that did not identify any issues."
She told the court the house was clad with Harditex, a cement and wood fibre cladding at the centre of the lawsuit.
Leigh said she and her husband first noticed problems in early 2013.
"I noticed a bulge in the skirting board in the third bedroom and out of my concerns called out to my husband."
She said the couple investigated and found framework so rotten, the wood was completely eaten through.
"We saw black mould everywhere. The floor joints were also rotted out," Leigh told the court.
"We got more than a shock. It was disbelief to discover such extensive damage."
Leigh said she called an insurance company.
"We were told it was not an insurance claim but we had a serious problem on our hands. We were told it was a leaky home."
Leigh said she engaged a home inspection services company and was told the cladding could not be repaired and the entire house needed recladding.
She said even now, the house must be heavily ventilated and frequently dehumidified.
The mould is cleaned off but quickly reappears, she said.
"It appears the rain is penetrating through the Harditex. On the exterior we continue to find newly-formed cracks."
Leigh said the home was fast deteriorating, and her mental health and finances had suffered too.
"We simply cannot relocate as we cannot sell our house in its current state. Basically our lives have been in limbo for eight years."
She said the couple had considered moving to her hometown, Motueka, but that was out of the question now.
"There is not a day that goes by where we do not think about the damp and the mould. We cannot see a way forward. If it were not for faulty cladding, the home would be lovely."
Defence counsel Bruce Scott questioned whether deterioration in the Porirua home's carpet could be blamed on leaking walls.
"It's just old carpet, Mrs Leigh. It's nothing to do with the moisture, is it?"
Leigh said she was not a carpet expert but she had identified parts of the carpet with damage were near areas of leaking.
Scott asked Leigh why she hadn't sued the house builders, designers, or others involved in the home's construction.
"Because they ran a mile," Leigh replied.
Scott said Leigh formed a view early on that builders were to blame, but Leigh rejected that.
"I was trying to unravel how all this started," Leigh replied. "I was trying every avenue possible."
The defence has repeatedly said James Hardie was being targeted because it was the only entity with deep pockets people could still sue.
The class action before Justice Christian Whata continues, and is expected to last until at least September.