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Exterior brick veneer details/ subsequent damage


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I'm not a big fan of the installation details on this building. This is for a 14 unit condo that I inspected today. Judging by these pictures, do you all think I am off base in recommending that the building owners hire an architect to design repairs? Or should I just recommend a competent mason to determine what needs to be done? (better be a good one either way).

Any input would be great......... (built in 1940's).

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The above picture shows what appears to be 30 pound felt that does not run all the way to the base of the wall. The brick is visible from the crawlspace, and the brick rests on the same stem wall as the rest of the framing (sill plate, etc.) My concern is that the WRB does not extend all the way down, and that even if it did, water would drain onto the framing.

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This picture shows the exterior wall. I think they may have painted the brick to help keep some water from seeping in through the brick. The brick appears to be resting on the foundation stem wall, at the same level as the substructure framing. I believe this is pretty common for older homes, but I don't usually run into extensive damage.

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The building was recently converted from apartments to condo's. Painting the brick may have been done to make it look better. BIA.org recommends that all spalled brick, and all deteriorated mortar be replaced prior to painting (sound reasonable?). There's quite a bit of spalled/ deteriorated brick that is painted over.

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I could push this beam up by hand, so I don't think it's doing much good. [:-bigeyes

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Here's another pic at the same area as pic 1 above (may be more clear)

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There's twenty some odd concrete porches that were poured against the wall sheathing, prior to the installation of the brick. I can't think of a good repair for this. To make matters worse, there are no eave overhangs on this property. There were repairs to the substructure areas at almost all porch areas. Funny thing is that extensive damage was just covered up when the place was insulated (new insulation for condo conversion). The guy who bought the building is a contractor and he is married to a Realtor. I don't think contractors are supposed to insulate over damage/ rot. In my report I am letting the occupants know that there is a pretty good potential for hidden damage to wall framing above the subfloor (only repairs I see are spot repairs of the subfloor, joists, sill plate, and rim joists)

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Pic of the brick installed on top of the porch areas.

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All of the new windows are inset to the brick sills. As soon as caulk fails, water will pour right in behind the brick. What would work here, maybe some pan / sill flashing? There are spots where the caulk has failed and some spots where flashing is back- sloped/ bent. Water will actually channel in behind the brick.

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Wall sheathing (no felt or flashing) is exposed beneath each exterior door.

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Another pic of an inset window. Note the poor sill slope as well.......

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I had to look that stuff over a few times; lottsa problems.

I'd probably phrase my report much more harshly than "there could be hidden damage". If you're getting into doing entire buildings, don't *****foot around with the problems. Tell folks these are substantial issues, because they look substantial. Painting over brick is always a mistake; it's not intended to be painted.

Folks think painted brick is some sort of fashion thing from the past. Well, it was, except the "paint" was often a lime wash. Lime and paint do different things to masonry; one helps, one hurts.

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I don't think I'd be shy about telling them they need an architect. There are so many issues with the original construction, and then toss the spot repairs on the pile... yuck. Someone needs to design appropriate repairs and provide oversight to ensure they get done, and that doesn't fit our job description.

Tom

If they don't get an architect, they might as well get a bulldozer.

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I just had a very similar inspection a few hours ago. The brick is cracked in all directions, horizontal, vertical, stepped etc, and all the cracks were filled with caulk and painted over again (all the brick is painted white). I also was "spoken too" by the agents boss. I was told not to talk to my clients and to just write the report with my finding and not to scare them. I'll post some pictures in a bit, I am still mulling over just what and how to say it.

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I also was "spoken too" by the agents boss. I was told not to talk to my clients and to just write the report with my finding and not to scare them.

I'd tell the agents boss to go **** himself.

I am still mulling over just what and how to say it.

I think I'd tell them in very certain terms they got a mess on their hands if they buy it.

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Hi Brandon,

Were you inspecting it for the HOA or for the buyers of a single unit?

If it's the HOA, I think I'd just tell them that in my opinion the brick veneer and the concrete stoops have been improperly detailed and this is channeling moisture to the structural framing and has caused extensive rot damage in the floor platform. Then I'd tell them that I believe I'm seeing just the tip of the iceberg, that there's a good chance that the rot has moved up into the exterior walls behind the veneer and that there's no way, short of tearing off all of the veneer, to know the extent of any hidden damage. Then I'd recommend they hire a competent and reputable contractor to determine the extent of any hidden damage, repair all hidden damage as necessary and then restore the exterior. I'd make sure that they understood that it is going to be very expensive; and, if done wrong or shortcuts are taken, will only cost them even more down the road.

If just a single buyer who is purchasing in that condo, I'd probably tell him or her that the exterior is done wrong and has caused extensive damage to the structure; probably much more than I can see, and that the damage I can see is so severe that it's hard to believe that the owner and/or HOA weren't aware of it. I'd tell the client that if the seller or HOA indicate that nobody was aware of any damage that severe that the HOA certainly won't get any gold stars for proper periodic inspections and maintenance of that structure. I'd make sure the client understands that fixing any damage just related to the client's prospective unit is probably not going to be the end of it; and, if the client purchases, the client can look forward to periodic emergency assessments to react to hidden damage that's eventually going to reveal itself. I'd tell 'em that if they have any running shoes handy that they should probably consider putting them on and sprinting away, unless the positives about the place far outweigh their concerns about condition.

Then again, that's just me.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Painting over brick is always a mistake; it's not intended to be painted.

Hi Kurt,

The BIA.org website does say that painting over brick can help prevent water intrusion, when there are problems present. They specify clear coatings, and not colored for some reason. Here is part of their summary:

"Furthermore, clear water repellents

are not necessary on properly designed and constructed brick masonry. However, under certain conditions, clear

water repellents and other colorless coatings may be beneficial."

I know that the paint is not clear, but should act in a similar fashion.

I pulled this off of their technotes regarding painting brick as well:

"General Characteristics. Water-thinned emulsion paints, commonly referred to as latex paints, are relatively easy to apply. Water-thinned emulsions may be brush, roller or spray-applied. However, brush application is preferable, especially on coarse-textured masonry. Emulsion paints dry quickly, have practically no odor and present no fire hazard. They may be applied to damp surfaces, permitting painting shortly after a rain or on walls damp with condensation.

As a group, these paints are alkali-resistant. Hence, neutralizing washes and curing periods are not usually necessary before painting. Water emulsion paints possess high water vapor permeability and are known to have performed well on brick substrates that have been properly prepared."

I do agree with you that painting brick is typically a dumb thing to do, but it may be necessary/ helpful in this situation. There is no way that the HOA is doing to dump much money into the place. I can't see them tearing walls apart and doing massive repairs.

Are there any good resources out there that show old school brick veneer installation techniques (is this installation all that uncommon, or is it failing this time because it is so heavily exposed with no overhangs?) I'm trying to figure out what to write regarding the brick resting on the same plane/ stem wall as substructure framing. I will of course write it up as a concern, but a technical resource for back up would be nice. 90 percent of the perimeter crawlspace framing looked pristine. The areas that had most of the damage were at S and W. faces (weather sides), and of course at each porch area.

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I don't think I'd be shy about telling them they need an architect. There are so many issues with the original construction, and then toss the spot repairs on the pile... yuck. Someone needs to design appropriate repairs and provide oversight to ensure they get done, and that doesn't fit our job description.

Tom

If they don't get an architect, they might as well get a bulldozer.

Well said-- Thanks

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Hi Brandon,

Were you inspecting it for the HOA or for the buyers of a single unit?

If it's the HOA, I think I'd just tell them that in my opinion the brick veneer and the concrete stoops have been improperly detailed and this is channeling moisture to the structural framing and has caused extensive rot damage in the floor platform. Then I'd tell them that I believe I'm seeing just the tip of the iceberg, that there's a good chance that the rot has moved up into the exterior walls behind the veneer and that there's no way, short of tearing off all of the veneer, to know the extent of any hidden damage. Then I'd recommend they hire a competent and reputable contractor to determine the extent of any hidden damage, repair all hidden damage as necessary and then restore the exterior. I'd make sure that they understood that it is going to be very expensive; and, if done wrong or shortcuts are taken, will only cost them even more down the road.

If just a single buyer who is purchasing in that condo, I'd probably tell him or her that the exterior is done wrong and has caused extensive damage to the structure; probably much more than I can see, and that the damage I can see is so severe that it's hard to believe that the owner and/or HOA weren't aware of it. I'd tell the client that if the seller or HOA indicate that nobody was aware of any damage that severe that the HOA certainly won't get any gold stars for proper periodic inspections and maintenance of that structure. I'd make sure the client understands that fixing any damage just related to the client's prospective unit is probably not going to be the end of it; and, if the client purchases, the client can look forward to periodic emergency assessments to react to hidden damage that's eventually going to reveal itself. I'd tell 'em that if they have any running shoes handy that they should probably consider putting them on and sprinting away, unless the positives about the place far outweigh their concerns about condition.

Then again, that's just me.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Hi Mike,

The inspection this time was for the entire HOA.

Then I'd tell them that I believe I'm seeing just the tip of the iceberg, that there's a good chance that the rot has moved up into the exterior walls behind the veneer and that there's no way, short of tearing off all of the veneer, to know the extent of any hidden damage.

I'm going to recommend having them remove the drywall in areas along the interior to check the walls for damage. I figure the framing/ sheathing will be visible from there and will be less costly than removing bricks. Removing all of the bricks would not be such a bad idea in this case....................

Then I'd recommend they hire a competent and reputable contractor to determine the extent of any hidden damage, repair all hidden damage as necessary and then restore the exterior.

That's what I did on my first inspection report, which was for a buyer. I recommended masons, framing contractors, etc. look over the entire building because of what I was seeing. Instead, I was hired to re- inspect her unit only, once the owner/ contractor made some repairs. By the way, framing repairs were incomplete/ improper, but she closed anyways [:-bigmout

My original client bought into the place, and then had the HOA hire me to inspect the entire building. Seems a little backwards.

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Architects draw pictures. Engineers make homes stand the test of time. He needs an engineer.

Yeah, when you are talking about bigger firms you're probably right. Out here in the boonies, if we have a local architect he is very often an engineer as well. Unfortunately, the local guy with those credentials has passed away.

We have an increasing number of "home designers" in our area, most of whom have no credentials at all and couldn't draw a stick figure without their fancy software. Even scarier, I have had the misfortune of working several preservation/restoration projects run by a very big firm, and the only credentials of the project "architect" is that she married a real architect.

Tom

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