Washingtons Fall Weather

Article written by Marty Smith

Every year around Fall we are flooded with calls. Owners and managers did not take care of the problem that came up last rainy season: the rain has started and the leak is back. They might have hung some new dry wall, done some painting, and hoped the leak was just an aberration. There might have been some caulking on the windows of the building. There might have even have been a roof patch or two installed. Might have had the parapet caps inspected and replaced. Because masonry restoration can be a big ticket item, avoidance can be turned on full blast.

Our company does work for one unnamed property manager that has replaced the dry wall on the inside of an exterior masonry wall every year for the last five. The owners refuse to spend the money to fix the problem, and the problem is obvious to me. My analysis is free. The work can be expensive. However, what does it cost when the interior framing rots, or you keeping losing tenants, or there is a large spread of black mold in the unit beneath the leaking level?

The design of a brick veneer building is such that there is a dead air space between the brick and the wood substrate. The substrate has building paper (60 minute or tar paper) on it. On an old brick building, sometimes the living units don’t show any signs of water at all, but the sill plates on top of the foundation are rotting. Usually this will show up as water in the basement. A lot of the time the basement is unfinished, and there is a drain in the floor…so why worry…right?

I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I have given the owner or manager a six figure estimate for repair – which will go on top of the general contractors six figure estimate for repair – when it all could have been avoided with a relatively smaller five figure repair, or restoration a few years prior.

I understand that it is a shock to hear that it will cost $35,000 to stop the leak, or that it will cost $250,000 to repoint your 10 unit building. I get it. It is quite tempting to plug that leak with bubble gum and worry about it tomorrow.  If you can’t get it done today, do what you have to do to stop the water, bring in your people, make a plan, and solve the problem, don’t just deal with the symptom.

If you have been following my articles at all, you will remember my advice to get, and keep a relationship with your primary contractors. More than anything, they will keep you steered in the right direction as far as the maintenance of your buildings. Create a regular program. Build relationships with vendors. Earn their trust as they earn yours. Bring in other opinions when desired, or necessary. Most importantly, know when you are dealing with a symptom, and not addressing the problem.

VanWell Masonry’s Restoration division has over 100 years’ cumulative experience in Western Washington, restoring and preserving masonry structures. From commercial to multi-family and single family – we will analyze it all. For inquiries, please email: info@vanwellmasonry.com or call: 360-568-6400.

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