Asphalt

The most common roadway resurfacing methods in H.O.A. developments are asphalt or concrete systems. Both types of systems will develop defects if designed or installed incorrectly.

Common Types:

  • AC Paving (Asphaltic Concrete Paving): Typically black or dark brown in color.
  • PCC (Portland Cement Paving): Similar to sidewalks and driveways but made of higher strength materials and installed in thicker sections.
  • Stamped Concrete: Usually decorative, sometimes different color.

Common Problems:

  • Improper design: Asphalt/concrete mixture not per specifications.
  • Installation deficiencies: Varying in thickness.
  • Asphalt overheated before installation.
  • Asphalt too cold before installation.
  • Concrete too dry/wet before installation.
  • Lack of steel reinforcement.

Possible Damage:

  • Cracks, alligatoring, and cheecks leading to water intrusion to sub grade.
  • Subsidence.
  • Vertical displacement.
  • Washboard surface.
  • System failure.

Balcony / Deck Failure

 

A common design characteristic of the H.O.A. developments is the inclusion of balconies or decks, and, if needed, exterior stair systems to access above ground dwellings. Improper design, manufacturing, or installation could result in a construction defect and damage. Unventilated areas with water intrusion cause dry rot, fungus, and mold. These may result in failure to the interior structural framing and exposure of plywood decking that may cause failure of the deck membrane.
 

Common Types:

  • Tongue and groove wood plank deck (fully adhered system).
  • Wood framed deck with elastomeric type coatings.
  • Lightweight concrete decks.

Common Problems:

  • Improper flashing.
  • Improper deck to sliding glass door or front door threshold transfer.
  • Improper deck to wall transition.
  • Improper drainage or slope to drain.
  • Improper deck finishing (coatings).
  • Improper installation of deck scupper drains.

Possible Damage:

  • Dry rot.
  • Deck/structural failure.
  • Interior leaks.
  • Stucco staining/cracking.
  • Wood destroying organisms.
  • Surface cracks or cheecking.

Why Some Balconies Fail

There are four common problem areas in the construction of balcony surfaces. 

Balcony / Deck Failure

 1.  Not Enough Vertical Offset at the Door Threshold.

There should be 1-1/2 inch vertical separation between the interior and exterior surface is recommended:

  • to avoid wind-driven water from getting inside.
  • to provide a vertical surface to attach the waterproof membrane.
  • to provide continuous "Z" -metal flashing.

2.  No Waterproofing on the Sides of the Balcony. The waterproof membrane should be extended up the vertical surface about 1-1/2 inches to create a continuous waterproof membrane along the balcony sides.

3.  Insufficient Slope. Adequate slope of the balcony surface is needed to let water drain off fast. A 1/4-inch-per-foot slope from the wall to the drain and/or scupper is recommended for proper drainage.

4.  No Ridge to Deflect Water to the Scuppers is an Enclosed. Balcony Without a ridge, commonly called a cricket or saddle, at the low end of the balcony, the water will puddle between to the drains or scuppers.

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

Below Grade Walls

Below Grade Walls

Why Some Below Grade Walls Fail

Common Problems:

  • Grade slopes toward building.
  • Inadequate waterproof membrane.
  • No protection board.
  • No extension of waterproof membrane above grade or over footing.
  • No foundation drain.
  • No gravel or filter fabric around drain.
  • No waterproof membrane under slab.

Potential Damage:

  • Efflorescence and water stains on walls
  • Ponding against building and on basement floors.
  • Moisture migration though slabs.

The Five Basic Elements For Waterproofing Below Grade Walls:

  • Waterproof membrane
  • Protection board
  • Gravel Fill
  • Foundation Drain
  • Filter Fabric

Recommended Solutions:

  • Slope the finish grade away from the building,
  • Install a membrane under the concrete building slab,
  • Provide a cant strip to transition the waterproof membrane at any 90 degree angle,
  • Install ultraviolet protection for the above-grade waterproofing.

Crawlspaces

Why Some Crawlspaces Can Haunt You

Common Problems:

Crawlspaces 1
  • Lack of cross-ventilation.                                        
  • Insufficient ventilation openings in surrounding walls.
  • Inadequate clearance between earth and wood components.
  • Water entry into Crawlspace.
  • Lack of code-required access to Crawlspace.
  • Exterior grade slopes toward the building.                                                          

Resultant Damage:

  • Mildew, mold and high ambient moisture due to lack of ventilation.
  • Wood rot and structural damage.
  • Ponding against building.
  • Water through foundation wall.
  • Water in Crawlspace.

Proper Design:

Crawlspaces 2
  • Provide proper clearances between earth and wood components per the Uniform Building Code (UBC), Chapter 25.
  • Provide adequate ventilation openings per UBC, Chapter 25.
  • Slope grade away from building.
  • Provide cross ventilation per UBC, Chapter 25.
  • Provide Crawlspace access per UBC, Chapter 25. 

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

Fireplaces

Why Some Fireplaces Can Be Unsafe

Fireplace 1

Common Problems:

  • Use of "mix and match" components.
  • Unsealed gas pipe penetrations.
  • Insufficient clearances between fireplaces and combustible materials.
  • Missing or incomplete installation of fire stops between floors.
  • Use of non-approved decorative chimney terminations.
  • Insufficient chimney height

Potential Damage:

  • Fire hazard.
  • Voiding of manufacturer's guarantees.
  • Embers may escape into framed areas.
  • Inadequate fire protection.
  • Smoke may enter living spaces.
Fireplace 2

Proper Solutions/Construction:

  • Use approved laboratory-tests (i.e. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.) components by a single manufacturer.
  • Use refractory (fireproof) cement to seal gas pipe penetrations through the firebox.
  • Follow manufacturer's installation instructions regarding required clearances from framing and other combustible materials.
  • Use only approved, listed, decorative chimney terminations.
  • Use the "2ft. in 10-ft. height rule" for chimney heights (Uniform Building Code, Section 3703(f) & Table 37-B).

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

Flashing Fails

 

Flashing Fails

Why Some Window Flashing Fails

Common Problems:

  • Incorrect sequencing of flashing installation resulting in improperly lapped building paper and BCRFM (barrier-coated, reinforced flashing material), often identified as Sisalkraft paper.
  • BCRFM paper cut too short or missing.
  • Use of improper materials in window flashing such as using cut-up building paper instead of BCRFM paper.
  • Omission of butyl sealant bead around bottom and slides of window units between the flange and BCRFM paper.

Potential Damage:

  • Water intrusion into the framing system and living spaces resulting in:
  • Dry rot in the wood-framing system.
  • Water-strained gypsum board.
  • Damaged flooring materials, carpeting and interior furnishings.

Proper Solutions/Construction for Aluminum and Vinyl Window Flashing:

  • Installation should be per Uniform Building Code Section 1707(b).
  • Use only approved materials.
  • Follow window manufacturers' details for installation of flashing materials.
  • Follow industry standard details, such as those of the Plastering Information Bureau.

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

Flat Roofs

Flat Roofs

Why Some Flat Roofs Leak

There are common problems in the construction of flat roofs.

1.  Insufficient Roof Slope and Lack of Drainage

  • The Uniform Building Code (UBC), 1988 Edition, requires roof systems to be sloped a minimum of 1/4 inch in 12 inches for positive drainage.

  • Most manufacturer warranties require roofs to be free of ponding water 48 hours after a rainfall (consult individual manufacturer's specific requirements).

  • Where water cannot drain over the roof edge, the UBC requires a roof drain and an overflow drain at every low point of the roof.

  • Scuppers, or openings through the wall, can be used in lieu of overflow drains. The UBC requires that overflow scuppers be three times the size of the roof drain and have an inlet line located a maximum of 2 inches above the adjacent low roof point.

2.  Omission of Cant Strips

  • Some roofing materials are too brittle to make the 90-degree turn up the wall from the roof deck. Cant strips allow for the continuous transition of roofing materials without splitting or tearing that would permit water into the structure.

3.  Lack of Proper Coping

  • A properly sloped sheet metal coping at the top of parapet walls will reduce the potential for water intrusion and eliminate most staining from top-of-wall-run-off.
  • Stucco-capped parapet walls require a higher level of care in design and construction. Stucco does not prevent water intrusion, so the top of the wall should be waterproofed as if it were a roof.

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

Floor Ceiling/Failure

Why Some Floors and Ceilings Sag

Common Terms:

  • Uniform Load: Force evenly distributed over a relatively large area (i.e. a waterbed).
  • Concentrated (Point) Load: Force localized over a relatively small area (i.e. a load bearing post or woman's spiked-heel shoe).
  • Dead Load:  Weight of permanent components, such as, roofs, walls, floor, etc.
  • Live Load: Superimposed by use and occupancy, such as, people furniture, etc.

Common Problems:

  • Improper design dies not account for the load the floor must support.
  • Improper construction that increases span of framing or decreases size of framing members.
  • User applies more load than anticipated for type of occupancy.
  • Structural weakening by wood rot due to water intrusion and ponding.

Potential Damage:

  • Ponding of water on exterior surfaces, such as, balconies or roofs.
  • Cracking of finishes, such as, stucco or gypsum board.
  • Walking surface excessively sloped and springy.
  • Squeaking floors.

Typical Solutions:

  • Add full-depth blocking between framing members to help spread out concentrated load to adjacent members (does not help for uniform loads).
  • Add additional framing members to reduce the amount of load to each member.
  • Provide additional support beneath the floor to reduce the span.

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

 
Floors/Ceiling Failure

Hold Downs

What Is A Hold Down

Common Problems:

  • Missing hold down.
  • Undersized hold down.
  • Improper location of hold down.
  • Improper installation of hold down.

Potential Damage:

  • Cracked finishes.
  • Water intrusion.
  • Ruptured plumbing and gas lines.
  • Partial or total collapse of the framing system.
  • Personal Injury,

Proper Construction:

  • There are generally two types of hold-downs; the embedded strap and the anchor bolt hold down. There function is to prevent the end of a shear wall from lifting off the foundation. The following are the principal elements necessary for hold downs to function properly:
  • A-Correct size of anchor bolt and/or hold down.
  • B-Attached to the end stud by sufficient nailing or bolting.
  • C-Nut tightened sufficiently on anchor bolt
  • D-Bolt holes drilled to proper size
  • E-Strap or bolt properly imbedded into foundation.
  • Positioned properly at the end of the wall, adjacent to the end post.
  • Positioned at the proper distance from the edge of the foundation.

Typical Hold Downs:

Hold Downs
 

Noise Intrusion

Industry standards have been set to prevent noise intrusion. Many times developers advertise the use of sound proofing materials that surpass the normal industry standards. However, when corners are cut and the materials are not used or are improperly installed, the homeowner suffers and their privacy compromised.

Commonly Heard Noises:

  • Footsteps: can be heard from above, or causes floor to shake or vibrate.
  • Television, Radio, or Voices: audible from above.
  • Tub and Toilet: draining that can be heard from above inside the wall
  • Use of the toiled can be heard.
  • Voices: heard in the bathroom from above or below.
  • Valve and Service Water Noise: faucets are heard when turned on or off, water hammer or humming noises, or pipes shaking.
  • Doors and Windows Must be Kept Closed: traffic can be heard.
  • Use of Washer & Dryer: audible from within the unit.
  • Vibration: audible from roof mounted A/C units.

Reasons for Noise Intrusion:

  • Improper design.
  • Plumbing line in direct contact with interior wall framing.
  • Tubs and showers resting directly on sub flooring.
  • Improperly mounted A/C units.
  • Improperly attached sub flooring to ceiling rafters.
  • Improper glazing of exterior sliding glass doors and windows along with this new material there are some changes and additions to windows and roofs.

Retaining Walls

Why Some Retaining Walls Fail

Common Problems:

  • No drain installed.
  • Drain installed, but no outlet for water.
  • Drain installed without proper gravel and filter fabric - leading to clogging.
  • Drain installed too high - allowing water pressure to build up below the drain.

Potential Damage:

  • Excessive/unsightly leaning (rotation).
  • Collapse.
  • Excessive wall cracking.
  • Soil/pavement buckling in front of wall.
  • Soil subsidence behind wall.

Proper Solutions:

  • Install continuous drain pipe embedded in gravel and wrapped in filter cloth.
  • Drainpipe should be installed below the finish floor/grade and above the bottom of the footing.

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

 
Retaining Walls

Roof Leaks

The following is a list of the common roof systems that are installed at homeowner association developments. Each system contains similar components: felt underlayment, plywood sheeting, sheet metal flashing, etc. Improper manufacture or installation of one or more of the roof system components could lead to a construction defect and damage.

Common Roof Types:

  • Clay Tile (sometimes called Spanish or Italian tile): Made from red clay, concrete or both.
  • Asphalt Composition Shingle: Made or formed from an asphaltic, aggregate and fiber mixture.
  • Flat Concrete Tile: Formed concrete typically flat and uniform in shape.
  • Built-Up (BUR): Two or more layers of roofing material covering the same roof area, cemented together on the job.
  • Wood Shake: Usually made from wedged shaped pieces of cedar.

Common Problems:

  • Improper and incomplete sheet metal flashing.
  • Missing or short cut roof underlayment felts.
  • Improper use of materials.
  • Improper slope to drain.
  • Lack of Gutters.
  • Roof leaks.
  • Gutters separating, improperly installed, or missing.

Possible Damage:

  • Stains and or destruction of walls, ceilings, or floors.
  • Wet Insulation.
  • Mold.
  • Fungus.
  • Wood destroying organisms.
  • Dry rot.
  • Structural Failure.
  • Defective or broken tiles/shingles.

Roof Flashing

Roof Flashing

Why Some Tile Roofs Leak

There are four common problem areas in the construction of tile roofs.

1.  The ridge of the tile roof is left open to rain.

  • The national Roofing Contractors Association (NCRA) and most manufacturers recommend that grout or other closure device be used to seal this exposed location.

2.  Open headwalls can be a source of leaks in a driving rain.

  • Flashing and counter flashing as well as a grout closure are critical to provide a weather tight seal.

3.  Roof penetrations installed without flexible flashing.

  • The principal concept is to make sure that any flashing is flexible enough to be "shingled" (lapped) into the tile assembly.

4.  Eaves should shed water, not collect water.

  • Any water that gets under the tile surface should have a way to shed off the roof at the time eave rather than being dammed at the roof edge.

Consult manufacturer's recommendations for the specific tile product.

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

Shear Walls

Why Some Shear Walls Fail

Shear Failure:

  • Improper soleplate anchorage.
  • Improper mailing of shear element (i.e. plywood, gypsum board, stucco).
  • Tearing of shear element.

Drag Failure:

  • Missing/inadequate top plate straps.
  • Insufficient top plate splice.
  • Undersized top plate.

Potential Damage:

  • Cracked finishes.
  • Water intrusion.
  • Ruptured plumbing and gas lines.
  • Partial or total collapse of framing.

Proper Design/Construction: 

Shear Walls 2
 
Shear Walls 1
 

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

Shower Installation Failure

Shower Installation Failure

Why Some Tile Installations Fail At Showers

Common Problems:

  • Tile installed over water-resistant gypsum board (green board) instead of a mortar setting bed or cementitious backer board.
  • Note: The Ceramic Tile Institute has questioned using green board as a tile substrate in wet areas such as tub/shower enclosures.
  • Edge of green board above tub or shower pan lip is cut edge instead of the wrapped factor edge.
  • Joints and penetrations are not sealed with a coat of ceramic tile mastic prior to tile installation.
  • Insufficient gap (less than 1/4 inch) between the base of green board and the tub or shower pan.
  • Lack of flexible sealant joint at the tile-to-tub or shower pan juncture.

Potential Damage:

  • Water intrusion resulting in:
  • Tiles popping off,
  • Tile and grout cracking,
  • Dry rot, structural damage, and framing movement.

Recommended Solutions:

  • Install tile over a mortar bed or cementitious backer board such as "Durock", "Wonderboard", or equal, per manufacturer's installation instructions.
  • Provide proper, flexible sealant joints at all fixture penetrations and tie-to-tub and shower pan junctures.

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

Sliding Glass Door

Sliding Glass Door

Why Some Sliding Glass Door Thresholds Fail

Common Problems:

  • Improper flashing.
  • Inadequate vertical offset between the interior and exterior surfaces.
  • Lack of a bituminous or plastic protection barrier between the aluminum threshold and the concrete or sheet metal substrate.

Potential Damage:

  • Water intrusion into the framing system and living spaces resulting in:
  • Dry rot in the wood framing system.
  • Water-stained gypsum board.
  • Damaged flooring materials, carpeting and interior furnishing.
  • Corrosion of aluminum threshold due to lack of protection barrier.

Proper Solutions:

  • Provide a 1-1/2 inch vertical offset between the interior and exterior surfaces.
  • Provide a weather-tight, fully sealed or seamless sill/jamb flashing system that protects the corners of the threshold and counter flashes the deck system.
  • Provide a bituminous or plastic protection barrier between the aluminum threshold and the concrete or sheet metal substrate.

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.

Soil Subsidence

Soil Subsidence

Soil Subsidence

Most H.O.A. developments have had some type of soil work done, either the soil is removed (cut) or soil is added (fill) to balance for the grading. If this process is not properly monitored and tested for compaction, the soil may fail with consequential land subsidence.

Common Soil Types:

  • Expansive.
  • Silt.
  • Clay.
  • Caliche.
  • Diatomaceous.
  • Rock.

Common Problems:

  • Improperly compacted soils.
  • Contaminants remaining in soils (Usually organic types of build up, i.e. lumber).
  • Materials.
  • Settlement.
  • Improper design.

Possible Damage:

  • Cracks in stucco.
  • Cracks in drywall.
  • Cracks in tile floors.
  • Cracks in concrete flatwork.
  • Cracks in slabs and garage flooring.
  • Interior distress to cabinets and countertops.
  • Cracks in windows.
  • Doors that are difficult to open.

Windows

The size and style of windows installed at many homeowner association developments is usually varied and unique to the particular development. Windows are commonly manufactured using aluminum steel or wood as the frame material. Windows typically come with single glazed (one piece of glass per frame) or double-glazed (two pieces of glass per frame with a scaled air space between the glass).

Common Window Types:

  • Horizontal or vertical sliding window with an adjacent fixed or non-moving window.
  • Sliding glass doors.
  • Fixed window (a window designed not to open).
  • Green house or bay window.

Common Problems:

Possible Damage:

  • Staining of walls, windowsills, or floors.
  • Mold or fungus visible on window frame, sill, or adjacent wall.
  • Trapped moisture between panes on double-glazed windows.
  • Water leaks into non-ventilated areas adjacent to windows.
  • Mildew, fungus, and dry rot.
  • Structural Failure.
  • Sliding windows or sliding glass doors that are difficult to open and close.
  • Windows that, when closed, allow air drafts into building.
  • Cracked stucco.
  • Gaps between stucco and window frames.
  • Fogging between glass in double glazed windows.

Wood Rot

The Demon Wood Rot

Wood rot is fungal growth in the cellular structure of wood. It is caused by placing wood in locations where moisture is present for long periods.

Wood rot can develop undetected in enclosed, poorly ventilated areas such as crawl spaces. The subsequent deterioration can lower the load bearing capacity of framing and, if not arrested early, wood rot can completely consume the wood members. Any wood surface with long-term moisture contact may develop the fungal growth, but the end grain, where cut wood cells are exposed, is the most susceptible.

Whereas the elimination of the moisture source will arrest further growth of the wood rot, prevention is by far the best remedy. This newsletter addresses several problem areas and the appropriate preventive details.

Wood Rot 1

Wood Stair Treads Should Not Be Buried in Stucco

  • Option 1: A stucco screed could be used to provide vertical separation between the wood stair tread and the stucco.
     
  • Option 2: A wood stringer held away from the stucco will allow water to flow through the assembly.

Finish Grade Too Close to Wood Structures

  • Uniform Building code, Section 2516(c) 7, requires a six-inch minimum separation between finish grade and wood structures. Less separation poses a potential termite as well as wood rot problem.

Wood Star Stringer Deterioration

  • Untreated Douglas fir is commonly used for stair stringers that are placed directly on a concrete slab, and often this practice develops wood rot if exposed to moisture. The Uniform Building Code, Section 2516 (c) 7, requires a decay-resistant, or pressure- treated, wood for stair stringers placed on a concrete slab on grade.
Wood Rot 2

Wood Balcony Railings Often Leak into the Building Frame

  • Railings often split and warp, generally offering little protection for the wall below.

  • An additional layer of barrier paper, or a product such as "Jiffy Sea," should be installed over the standard building paper at the top of the wall. The barrier paper should lap down six inches on each side over the building paper.

  • Slope the top railing member to alleviate standing water.

  • All railing and trim members should be painted on all sides to reduce warpage and splits in the wood, including fresh end cuts.

  • Caulking and flashing should be used at intersections to prevent water entry.

Note: This newsletter addresses concerns that relate to some common wood rot problems. There are a multitude of other conditions that can lead to wood rot damage.

Information provided by Building Analysts, a full-service architectural and engineering firm with many years of experience in construction litigation. Their services include: architectural and structural investigations, repair recommendations, preparation of exhibits and expert testimony. Contact Building Analysts Toll Free at: (800) 352-1497.