In the architecture and design industries, waterproofing is a critical consideration. A leaky roof or other roofing waterproofing issues can lower the value of a home by an average of 5 to 7 percent, according to Allstate Roofing. A wet basement can lower a home value as much as 10 to 25 percent, while taking the time to waterproof a basement can yield a return on investment of 400 percent, says Basement Systems.
Home builders count on architects and designers to help ensure that a building design is waterproof. Unfortunately, some common design errors can compromise the waterproofing of a building even before it gets built. Here are four of the most common waterproofing enclosure design errors, along with some tips on how to avoid them.
Failing to Consult a Waterproofing Expert
One of the most basic and common waterproofing design errors is failing to seek the services of a qualified expert. A registered waterproofing consultant (RWC) is a professional who has been certified by the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants, which specializes in waterproofing. RWC consultants have at least four years of experience as a waterproofing consultant and must pass an exam demonstrating detailed knowledge of waterproofing, or must already hold an equivalent certification as a roof or exterior wall consultant. They must also attend continuing education seminars and submit five references for certification approval. An experienced consultant can help you pre-empt potential problems by reviewing your designs and project specifications and providing annotations and sketches identifying issues and solutions.
Misunderstanding Owner Expectations
In addition to consulting a waterproofing design expert, it’s also important to adequately discuss the building owner’s expectations. The term “waterproofing” has a range of meanings and can encompass anything from water resistance to damp proofing to requirements for how often waterproofing must be maintained. A building owner who is not a specialist may not have a clear conception of this range of meanings when they request waterproofing, which can lead to miscommunication and labor and cost issues. The owner may prefer the cheapest waterproofing solution, which may not be adequate for the job; conversely, the builder may prefer the most expensive solution, which may also not be the right solution. It’s important to solicit information from building owners on issues such as how dry they want their basement to be, for instance.
Failing to Consider all Products and Options
Another frequent mistake is failing to do due diligence when considering possible products, materials and solutions. Building contractors will tend to recommend the product lines they’re most familiar with, while manufacturer representatives will naturally recommend the solutions sold by their employer. However, this fails to take into account the full range of possible solutions. Taking the time to work with a waterproofing consultant to explore all available solutions can result in a significant better result. For instance, if you’re choosing a gasket seal, it can be worthwhile to review a seal design guide for a deeper understanding of which materials are available and how to select the best one for a particular job.
Overlooking Unusual Design Issues
The best waterproofing designs are the simplest ones, but unusual circumstances can lead to design omissions that fail to take into account unique requirements. For instance, unusual intersections of walls and floors may call for more intricate detailing than a normal project. Similarly, differential pressures or multiple penetrations can require extra attention. When an architectural team encounters an unfamiliar situation that calls for unusual design, it’s especially important to review details carefully with input from a certified expert.
Consulting a registered waterproofing consultant is one of the most fundamental keys to avoiding problems with your design. Getting input from the building owner can help ensure that your design meets their expectations. When selecting products and materials, taking the time to review all available options will help make sure you pick the best solution for the job. When exceptional design issues such as unusual joint intersections arise, extra review is required to avoid potential problems. Following these guidelines will help you design optimal waterproofing solutions that keep your clients satisfied.