How Are We Going to Stop It?

A rant by Paul Evans – AIW President


I feel it necessary to call out those in the construction industry who are building

defective buildings right from the ‘get go’ and walking away, leaving a massive trail of

distress, destruction, disheartened public.

As a remedial builder and specialist waterproofer we are seeing more and more building with defects that are younger than ever before. An example of this is a $7mill house that is less than 2yrs old and is leaking like a sieve. The simplicity of properly tanking a retaining wall would have prevented a massive strip down to get to the walls and the subsequent expense that the owner has to fund many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yep, you guessed it, the builder has liquidated (heard that one a few hundred times recently). I am not privy to the details of the contract, etc., so I can’t say how or why the builder has disappeared. I see this problem as one of lack of knowledge on what water can do and relying on concrete to be a barrier for water ingress prevention.

It is also lack of respect for waterproofing in general. This shows up right from the concept. It is often disregarded in specifications and a simple note on drawings to say ‘waterproofing as per manufacturers’ requirements’, which just another way of stating, ‘I don’t know what it will take to waterproof this building so I’ll handpass it to the builder and it’s his/her problem then.’

This is not always the case now that this issue is getting some traction. The specifiers, engineers, architects, surveyors are all now being focused on to take responsibility for their part in the design process. If it’s wrong or not dealt with properly then the repercussions are starting to come back and hit them.

All too often waterproofers are requested to carry out works with products that may be unsuitable or poor quality and then they are required to uphold a warranty on their works. Do you tell the garage what brand of oil or grease, coolant, brake pads, clutch plates they should buy to put in your car? NO. There are recommendations as to the correct types of grades and capabilities of service, but the actual product is left to the garage to buy. Why then is it different in the waterproofing game? Who is the best judge of what works and does not work in a particular situation to achieve a long-term durable membrane, then what might be suitable in the vastly varying climate conditions we experience across Australia? Who has their finger on the pulse as to what is available and what backup should they receive when planning or purchasing products for waterproofing? Who knows what will bond and stay bonded (if that’s the system chosen)? Who is the very last person in the line that is asked about all the above questions? I almost don’t need to write it … do I … the waterproofer.

As industry professionals we need to turn the tide of ‘oh-that’s the way it’s been for years’, attitude and see what we can do to change it.