The 2017 Infrastructure Report of America* cites that nearly 40% of the country’s bridges are more than 50 years old. This is only one statistic stating that America’s building infrastructure is aging. Rehabilitation and maintenance of older structures and buildings is becoming more critical every day, which also increases the need for further education around assessment and preservation techniques and solutions.
Due to the substantial damage caused by hurricanes Irving, Maria, and Jose after they tore through the southern United States and the Caribbean in 2017, many architects and building professionals looked back at the approach that New Orleans took to rebuild after Katrina.
As construction experts, architects, and engineers we are often presented with scenarios where water intrusion has become an issue in an existing structure. More times than not we are asked to identify the underlying issue and present a solution to correct the issue.
Adopting a Systematic Approach to Below-grade Waterproofing, a recently published article in Construction Specifier, is extremely relevant to our area of focus and validates the point of view that waterproofing should be thought of as a system rather than a product.
After 15 years of delays, set-backs, and challenges, construction has finally begun on Boston’s much anticipated Fenway Center.
Most roofs are not watertight all the time. Roofing systems, both low-sloped (flat) and pitched, will most likely eventually spring a leak, even with the proper recommended maintenance and inspections. But what about newly installed low-sloped roofs, can one expect those to be watertight? Typically, on a newly constructed building, any minor leaks that turn up during construction can be dealt with immediately by the installer. Also, newly installed roofs on new and old buildings will undergo inspections and sometimes specified testing of seams and components for issuance of the manufacturer’s and installer’s warranty of water tightness for a specified period of time. However, ensuring that your newly installed roof is absolutely watertight becomes more critical if it is being covered by rock ballast or a landscaped greenspace or if the roof protects valuable artwork or irreplaceable property. Determining the location, origin, and extent of wet substrates is also critical for existing buildings when trying to determine if repair or complete replacement is more appropriate.
An Adhered Masonry Veneer system (AMV) is defined as “masonry veneer of natural or manufactured stone, secured to and supported by the backing through adhesion” and are sometimes called “lick and stick” systems. The more typical masonry brick veneer system has a drainage cavity behind and the veneer is supported on itself and anchored with metal ties. Exterior AMV wall components can vary, but they are similar to a stucco system with a weather resistive barrier, scratch coat with embedded wire lath, and a finish coat of adhesive mortar.
The design and installations of AMV can be challenging since relevant building codes and industry standards are not well known or understood, and the system relies heavily on workmanship and selecting the right materials. This is particularly true when choosing a manufactured stone rather than costlier natural stone, and when used in freeze-thaw climates.
Buildings were once thought of as a means of shelter and protection. While this still holds true, buildings today have evolved to do so much more based on how the building is intended to be used, who is occupying the building, where it is built, and so on.
When plans for buildings are being laid out and constructed many parties are often involved including the owner, architect, general contractor, and sub-contractors. One of the key areas of planning is waterproofing the structure so that leaks do not occur. In many cases a rainscreen system is built and put in place.
Severe weather can cause extensive damage to a building’s roof, foundation, and interiors. If there is a breach in a structure's envelope, water is likely to find its way into the building. This is why it is critical to make a structure water resistant from top to bottom.