Behind the Facades

cbeecherBuilding Envelope, Construction, Waterproofing

Chris Matthews, Vice-President of GCI Consultants, hosts the latest episode of the Everything Building Envelope podcast, with facades investigations on the agenda. He was joined by Shauna Serafini and Jason Bondurant, experienced and skilled members of the GCI team.

Shauna and Jason are both Senior Consultants with GCI and hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering.  Shauna works on most of our complex new construction and restoration projects, while Jason’s work mainly focuses on forensic investigations of existing buildings.  Shauna, Jason, and Chris are all fascinated with facades and brought that passion to an enlightening discussion about this essential part of the building envelope.

First Line of Defense

Facades are mostly noticed for how they look, but they also play an important part in the performance of the building system, such as keeping water away from the structure, regulating interior climate, and sound control.

Numerous components of the façade are vulnerable to water intrusion, such as balconies, plaza decks, glazing systems and penetrations. Stucco, Shauna points out, is an important focus of an investigation, as the material is prone to movement cracks and delamination that can lead to breaches in the building envelope. Roofs are also an important part of the investigative work for façade performance and condition assessments.

Proactive or Reactive?

Regular attention to the building envelope can prevent problems from escalating to costly repair projects, and some building owners and managers are proactive in initiating inspections of the façade condition to help plan for future maintenance and replacement, as well as budget for expenses.

But Jason ruefully notes that more often façade investigations are triggered by an existing issue, rather than as part of a preventive program. Most of the time there have been multiple unsuccessful attempts to repair the issue, before calling GCI Consultants.

Solutions, Not Sales

A hallmark of GCI’s investigative services is that the firm is an independent third party with no vested interest in who does the work, as Shauna says. The GCI team steers clients toward the best outcome for the situation, often staying with the project to oversee the work and carry out testing to ensure it meets the required manufacturer and industry standards.

A non-biased stance is an asset for inspections that are conducted as part of the due diligence in real estate transactions. Both Shauna and Jason have been able to inform clients of what they can expect to be spending on repair and maintenance on properties, before they make the big decision to purchase – or not.

Industry Standards for Investigations

It’s important for clients to understand that façade investigations follow a prescribed process that is state-of-the-art for the industry.

For assessing the condition and performance of the building façade, GCI refers to ASCE 30-14, “Guideline for Condition Assessment of the Building Envelope”, published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This standard guides the evaluator from start to finish of the assessment process, from initial contact with the client, to document review, interviews, and continuing to leak investigations, destructive testing, and analysis and reports.

For leak investigations to detect the source of leakage already underway, the recognized industry standard is ASTM E2128, called “Standard Guide for Evaluating Water Leakage of Building Walls”. This standard also describes a sequence of steps to follow to determine the source of water leakage.

You can hear the full discussion between Chris, Shauna, and Jason on the Everything Building Envelope podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe while you’re there, for more of these comprehensive and timely discussions between experts in the building industry. Listeners are also invited to contact GCI Consultants for more information and assistance with any issues that arise with the building envelope.877.740.9990