Even after being told their houses weren’t up to scratch homeowners weren’t convinced they needed to fix the problems, a study in Taranaki has found.
The University of Otago study found that 92 percent of the homes they commissioned assessments for failed, and not all owners planned to amend their home’s health and safety issues.
The assessments, which took place in 2017 but have only just been published in a report, found 76 of the 83 Taranaki homes surveyed with the university’s ‘warrant of fitness’ (Wof) failed.
Wise Better Homes, a non-profit charitable trust that installs insulation in the Taranaki region, organised trained assessors to carry out the assessments.
The Wof is a pass or fail tool that consists of 29 criteria that researchers believe have an important impact on health, safety energy efficiency.
In terms of components related to safety, most properties passed the criteria for lighting, power outlets and light switches, and intact wall, ceiling, and floor linings.
Among injury hazards, it was most common for properties to fail the following criteria: having paths, decks, and surfaces non-slippery and free of moss and having window security stays where required in the living area.
The study arose to see if homeowners would make voluntary improvements to their homes if they failed the Wof.
And when homeowners were interviewed after they received a report highlighting their property’s issues it was found not all planned to amend everything.
Of the 40 homeowners interviewed in the study, 31 planned to fix at least one of the issues.
However, many said they would not fix all the failings of their homes.
Researchers found participants were least likely to address issues such as security stays on windows and absence of ground vapour barrier.
For some cost was a factor, whereas others didn’t believe that the identified improvement would make a difference to health and safety in the home.
Report co-author Dr Lucy Telfar-Barnard said in a media release this shows the importance of knowledge to encourage housing improvements.
“Some people said they wouldn’t install a ground vapour barrier because it was dry under the house – not realising that even dry ground releases damp which rises into homes,” Telfar-Barnard said.
“Providing people with information on just how each housing defect affects health and safety may encourage people to make improvements.”
The researchers highlighted the importance of understanding the risks of the wof failings, and the need for potential funding support.
“Providing funding support to make improvements, as well as additional information to explain how improvements are likely to boost the health and safety of occupants and of visitors, could encourage owners to make improvements that have demonstrated health and safety benefits,” the report read.
Despite the majority of the homes failing their inspections overall they had passed the majority of the 29 items.
The research was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health