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The Building Envelope is the most important aspect of your property’s maintenance because so many things depend on it working well and staying intact. Ongoing inspections and proactive decisions can fix short-term problems and prevent long-term disasters due to neglect. Time spent on regular maintenance and repair on your building envelope can save you thousands of dollars down the road.
MBC Group provides helpful tips on how to be a proactive Board by working with a qualified professional to conduct annual building envelope inspections.
Are there any places that could be vulnerable to leaks or gaps in the foundation? Does the roof need to be repaired? Have the window wells been sealed and properly installed? As a property owner or manager, there is a long list of possible issues to address when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of the occupants in the building, especially if routine maintenance and inspection are not conducted. This not only puts you and the inhabitants of the building at risk but also leaves the building and all its structural components susceptible to further damage.
What is a building envelope?
The purpose of a building envelope is to uphold the structure of the building and to protect it from the effects of heat, air, water, and moisture. It is also meant to guarantee the comfort of the inhabitants within its walls, keeping energy consumption and utility bills at a minimum.
“A building envelope is a safeguard between the outside world and an indoor environment.”
Poor workmanship from the construction company, fewer quality materials, or poor design can result in defects of a building envelope right from the start. After construction, major weather events or natural disasters can also cause a great deal of damage, which if not taken care of immediately can result in major issues down the road.
What can you expect from a building envelope inspection?
An inspection can include looking at roofing, exterior finishes, exterior doors and windows, concrete foundations including stairs and steps. This happens in conjunction with a review and analysis of all available documents such as original design drawings, maintenance and repair records, and tenant complaint logs. Sometimes, moisture and humidity instruments, thermal imaging, and hazardous materials testing may also be required during these inspections. A report is then provided with a summary of findings and recommendations.
When is a building envelope inspection needed and how often?
The time to call the experts is at the first sign of damage in places like exterior walls, parking structures or garages, windows, balconies, foundations, and stairs or steps. This can look like leaking, material breakdown, or cracks. Don’t take the power of observation for granted. Complete regular walk-around inspections of the property are highly recommended, to watch for these signs, as well as either inspecting or encouraging owners to inspect crawlspaces and attics.
Regular assessments protect not only the integrity and durability of the structure but also ensures that its occupants are safe when dealing with any type of structural building, especially aging ones.
Determining the required frequency of building envelope inspections is based on the age of the building as well as the history of repairs, damages, replacements, upgrades, and other elements.
It’s necessary to build a plan of action, and this is something a qualified engineer can help with. More so, they provide the tools for you to be able to make an educated decision on the direction you are taking to address how you need to manage your specific property going forward.
Who should be completing building envelope inspections?
It is critical to hire someone qualified to conduct these assessments and to advise you on the best course of action when it comes to building envelope integrity, as well as continuous attention and maintenance needed on your property. The right Engineer is well-educated in these systems and has a lot of background and experience to be able to reinforce the recommendations they make to you.
An Engineer will give insight into the priority of required actions for your property. They can help you, your board, or any other involved parties understand the more technical aspects as well as the bigger picture. Engineers are there to equip you with the information and tools to enable you to make informed decisions that will reduce your costs and liability in the long term.
NOTES FROM MAGNUM YORK
We would like to thank MBC Group for providing this great content. As a trusted member of the MYVendor Program, we know that their safety is a top priority when it comes to assisting our Property Managers and Corporations on annual checks to prevent structural defects from happening and to prevent further damage or deterioration of construction components.
Their advisory team of architects, engineers, appraisers, and environmental specialists have seen firsthand the damming consequences and expensive repairs faced by building owners once these unintended losses are not quickly and efficiently reversed.
- To learn more about MBC Group, visit: https://www.mbc-group.ca/
- Protocols for building condition assessment: https://nrc-publications.canada.ca/eng/view/ft/?id=1cc8c8a9-b8de-4fe4-a928-3632c5466ffd
- REMI Network – Building Envelope Condition Assessments: https://www.reminetwork.com/articles/building-envelope-condition-assessments/
- Barricade Building Products – 16 Key Components of a Building Envelope Inspection Checklist: https://barricadebp.com/news/building-envelope-inspection-checklist
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