Growing Construction Demand Can Lead To Costly Shortcuts

Harmful Shortcuts With Air and Moisture Barriers

Don’t let increasing demand for buildings cause you to take shortcuts, especially with air and moisture membranes. The result can be very costly.

It’s a fact that when there’s an uptick in real estate sales, there’s a corresponding increase in construction and renovations. Nowhere is this more true than in New York City where condo and coop apartments are asking skyrocketing prices, and getting two or more multiple bids. The boom has spawned a new breed of New York entrepreneurs called expediters who hire themselves out to contractors, building managing agents, architects, and owners to pull up all the permits and file the papers needed before any reconstruction project can begin. The number of reconstruction jobs successfully filed grew from 72,288 in 2013 to 82,551 in 2014.

Since a large part of an expediter’s time is spent lining up at the Department of Buildings where one visit may entail visits to several different counters or windows, all with lines of their own, the number of days it takes to get the necessary permits has increased. This often corresponds to a delay in the construction schedule, and a rush to make up for lost time once work actually commences.

While there is no excuse for rushed, shoddy work of any kind, this is especially true when it comes to placing air and moisture membranes. If the building is not properly sealed, air, which flows from high pressure areas to low pressure areas, will find its way in through any available path, and with it any water vapor it may contain. In fact, air currents account for more than 98% of the migration of water vapor into building cavities.

Harmful Shortcuts With Air and Moisture Barriers

Since moisture seepage can result in cracking masonry, flaking concrete, and growing mold, it is of paramount importance that both air and moisture membranes of at least 10 perms, in commercial construction, be placed around the perimeter of the building, and that all seams and penetrations be meticulously and permanently sealed. Gaps of any size will increase the possibility of water seeping, and with it many of the problems recently reported in several buildings in Brooklyn NY.

No one can say for sure whether the contractors involved took any shortcuts, but the pressure to finish a job often results in short-changing the most important part of installing air and moisture membranes: the need to step back and inspect the membranes before covering them. Any small holes discovered should be repaired with polyethylene, caulk, or tape. Any area with larger holes should be completely removed and replaced.

The Brooklyn incidents should serve as a warning to all contractors. You may be under the gun, but don’t let increasing demand for buildings cause you to take shortcuts, especially with air and moisture membranes. The result can be very costly

Projects that use a fully adhered air and moisture membrane such as DELTA®-VENT SA can reduce the potential for costly problems. They can also be installed quickly to meet the tight timelines of today’s construction.