Douville & Co are home inspectors who give a very useful Condo Manual to their clients when hired to do a condo building inspection.
The manual explains building envelopes and explains Wall systems which are classified as rainscreen, concealed barrier, face seal or mass wall.
The building envelope, also called the building enclosure or environmental separator, is the entire assembly of the exterior skin of a building, including cladding, sheathing papers, windows, doors, joint sealants, roofs, balconies and decks.
A building envelope consultant is a specialist (usually an engineer) who evaluates building assemblies.
Rainscreen system relies on deflection of the majority of water at the cladding, but also incorporates a cavity that provides a drainage path for water that penetrates past the cladding. Rainscreen wall systems have been used in the new generation building construction principles since the late 1990′s. An example of a rainscreen system that has been used for generations is brick veneer walls, which incorporate an air space between the masonry and the wall framing.
Concealed Barrier is a cladding assembly such as vinyl or wood siding that relies on the building paper or house wrap to provide the primary defence against moisture and air infiltration. These are sensitive systems when subjected to continual wetting from rains, and performance will vary depending on maintenance and construction detailing.
Face Sealed walls is a strategy where the performance depends on the ability of the exterior surface of the cladding, windows, doors, and associated sealants to shed water and prevent water infiltration. This wall system is commonly associated with stucco cladding.
Assemblies using a faced sealed strategy are proven to be unreliable when exposed to the extremes of the weather because installing and maintaining perfect and durable seals at all joints and intersections between assemblies is very difficult.
Mass Walls are generally cast or poured in place concrete or masonry. As long as this type of wall remains free of holes or cracks, and does not allow water to absorb and migrate through its thickness, it will serve all the required functions of protection from precipitation. Crack sealing repairs, sealant renewals, and paint/sealer recoating are typical maintenance procedures on these systems.
Building envelope reviews are recommended approx every 3-5 years. The review can be performed in several ways, visual observation, moisture meter probe testing, cladding removal, exterior test openings, and/or interior test openings. A detailed report outlining the findings and recommendations is provided.
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