Ex­perts can keep the house dry in win­ter

Golden rules for pre­vent­ing leaks

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

UN­QUAL­I­FIED wa­ter­proof­ing contractors and in­ap­pro­pri­ate ma­te­ri­als are re­spon­si­ble for most build­ing leaks, say the ex­perts.

Ad­dress­ing a trustees’ meet­ing or­gan­ised by the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Man­ag­ing Agents (Nama mem­bers are re­spon­si­ble for the run­ning of sec­tional ti­tle schemes) at the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, Peter Jack, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the multi-dis­ci­plinary con­trac­tor In­dawo, said his com­pany’s wa­ter­proof­ing teams were at this time of year reg­u­larly called out when it rained.

“In May, June, July and Au­gust we find that wa­ter­proof­ing re­pairs in­crease by some 300 per­cent,” he said.

“Most of these re­pair tasks should never have been nec­es­sary and could have been avoided. Most of­ten the orig­i­nal in­stal­la­tion and spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the wa­ter­proof­ing was not han­dled by qual­i­fied peo­ple, or the main­te­nance had of­ten not been car­ried out as spec­i­fied by the man­u­fac­turer.

“If the orig­i­nal in­stal­la­tion is done in­ef­fi­ciently or with in­ap­pro­pri­ate ma­te­ri­als it will de­lam­i­nate, crack or lose ad­he­sion very quickly.”

Three main types of ma­te­rial were used in wa­ter­proof­ing. These were bi­tu­men, which was par­tic­u­larly suit­able for flat roofs; acrylic com­pounds, which were ideal for para­pets and walls; and “ce­men­ti­tious” coat­ings, which had many uses but were par­tic­u­larly known for their abil­ity to give a good sur­face on walk­ways. Some of these coat­ings in­cor­po­rated ad­di­tional lay­ers such as polyester cloth, but al­most all of them were tried and tested and, if prop­erly ap­plied, would per­form well.

Once in place the wa­ter­proof­ing treat­ments had to be main­tained ev­ery two to five years, depend­ing on which ma­te­rial had been se­lected. If proper main­te­nance wasn’t car­ried out, they would start to leak.

“If wa­ter pen­e­trates into a steel re­in­forced con­crete struc­ture it will rapidly cor­rode the steel and cause spalling, or crack­ing of the struc­ture, which will in time make the whole build­ing com­pletely un­sound.

“In many cases, how­ever, the wa­ter will not pen­e­trate through to the steel but it will come up un­der painted sur­faces. No mat­ter how well these coat­ings have been ap­plied and how good the paints, these will even­tu­ally peel and flake as a re­sult of the sub­se­quent un­der­ly­ing mois­ture con­tent not dealt with in the wa­ter­proof­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tion or ap­pli­ca­tion.”

Jack said prop­erty own­ers could en­sure that the orig­i­nal in­stal­la­tion and the later main­te­nance of the wa­ter­proof­ing were done pro­fes­sion­ally if they used mem­bers of the Wa­ter­proof­ing and Roof­ing As­so­ci­a­tion Cape, whose mem­bers all also be­longed to the Mas­ter Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

“As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers are all tried and tested wa­ter­proof­ing prac­ti­tion­ers with skills not pos­sessed by the av­er­age build­ing con­trac­tor. In al­most all cases they will sub­mit full spec­i­fi­ca­tions as well as guar­an­tee­ing the work they do. Also, if there are any com­plaints against them, the as­so­ci­a­tion’s com­mit­tee will do all it can to put mat­ters right. For all these rea­sons it def­i­nitely pays to use the as­so­ci­a­tion’s wa­ter­proof­ing contractors”

A large re­cent con­tract han­dled by In­dawo was a seven-storey block of flats, Lyn­wood Gar­dens in Ke­nil­worth, where, in ad­di­tion to wa­ter­proof­ing, con­crete spalling re­pairs of the type de­scribed above were car­ried out over a pe­riod of 24 weeks and V-joints in­serted in the brick­work. In­dawo is now busy with the park­ing deck for Os­tende flats in Sea Point, which was orig­i­nally wa­ter­proofed 24 years ago.

“Mod­ern wa­ter­proof­ing sys­tems are ef­fi­cient if ap­plied and main­tained cor­rectly. Re­gret­tably, there are still a great many in­ef­fi­cient, un­qual­i­fied peo­ple do­ing this work,” said Jack.

Call Peter Jack on 021 941 5000 or e-mail peter@in­dawo.biz.

LAY­ING IT ON: A 4mm ‘torch on’ bi­tu­men wa­ter­proof­ing prod­uct be­ing ap­plied by one of In­dawo’s qual­i­fied teams.

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