I’ve Been Decked Again

December 16, 2013

By Greg O’Sullivan MNZIBS, FAMINZDip. Bus. Stud (Dispute Resolution), LEADR Panel (med) Arbitrator, Mediator, Registered Building Surveyor, Branz Accredited Adviser
At times when I talk about remedial work I feel like I am shouting into the wind. However, if shouting sometimes reaches the ear, then shout I will …

It never ceases to amaze me when I come across people who are prepared or willing to undertake remedial or improvement work using what they call a new “super product” and forgetting about simple basic facts of construction.

There is no better part of a property to examine this than closed in decks. Whether the deck is 12 floors up in a commercial building or hanging on to the architecturally designed sides of an eastern suburbs seaside property, the same problems arise.

What am I talking about? It’s simple. Often I have seen decks built and satisfactorily waterproofed with a butyl rubber. They had the edges of the butyl rubber flashing under doors, windows or balustrade surrounds.

Later, a repair occurs and someone chops off the butyl edges with a knife and leaves the bottom edge to flap free. Add to this the latest miracle waterproofing compound, which is laid across the original substrate and has absolutely no connection to butyl rubber.

The result is simple – water that comes in through doors, balustrades and other points and used to be directed out by the butyl rubber, is now left free to drip and run inside, causing extensive damage. The Seekers song “When Will They Ever Learn” comes to mind frequently when I see these sort of remedial muck-ups. This primitive aspect of construction behaviour is nothing short of amazing.

Before employing anyone to do waterproofing, ask questions about flashings to the surrounds. Ask about underflashing the ranchsliders or french doors. Ask if they are going to take your membrane behind the wall cladding, and how.

Tradespeople may be competent at laying ceramic tiles and various types of membrane, however, unless they understand the basic design principles of correct side and bottom drainage flashing details, they are unlikely to get it right.

It always pays to ask about the effect on other elements in the building. And before you listen to anyone who tells you to replace butyl rubber because it fails, be careful. Though failure has occurred to some joint adhesives, that type of material has given good service to the industry over many years.

My call is, “let’s get it right”. I constantly say to people, I don’t mind a free five minute call if I can help you get it right. Unfortunately, my experience is that minor defects can lead to major repair costs.

To contact Greg, email [email protected]


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