How Water Damage Hurts Property Values, Especially During Property Transfer

Property owners have a love-hate relationship with water. We need water to be available in many parts of our building. We love a beautiful water feature outside including perhaps a pond and fountain. We know that well-constructed property handles the water that falls from the sky in the form of rain or blows and flows in during storms.

However, we are too aware of the many ways that water can damage our investment. Here’s a list of some of the expenses that arise when water damage is visible in a property about to be bought and sold.

  1. Seeking an estimate. The first expense that is certain to come up to address water damage is an inspection and repair estimate. The prospective buyer will want a comprehensive inspection. An inspector with integrity is expensive, and will take as much time as is needed to not only determined how to repair the damage but to also address and correct the source of the water. Just the estimate can cost hundreds of dollars.
  2. Billing for interior repairs. When the initial estimate is complete, the buyer will also want to assess or subtract the estimated amount of repairs. This can include inches of foundation, framing, drywall or other wall or ceiling surfaces. It can also include inner wall surfaces if the source of the water is outside of the property. These repair costs include not only materials and supplies, but compensation for the workers.
  3. Billing for exterior repairs. Of course the most expensive repairs are those which include dealing with water along the foundation. Exterior repairs can then include digging out the affected area, regrading, water management including drains and pipes, and landscaping when the work is complete.
  4. Rounding. In building and planning, there is always the chance for the unexpected event or the need to address something that was not seen originally. For this reason many estimates provided by buyers include significant rounding. The unofficial explanation is “just in case.” This habit, if not carefully checked and asked about, can end up taking hundreds of dollars from the seller’s pocket.
  5. Seeking a competitive estimate. If the buyer’s estimate seems too high, the seller may want to invest in a competitive inspection and repair estimate. While this seems to add to the overall expense, it might actually save money in a major or expensive repair. This is especially the case if a contractor is already employed by the seller, because their time will be factored in to the overall business. A competitive estimate might help pay for itself of the buyer can be shown reasonable places where their estimate is too high – or if one or more of the buyer’s assumptions for costs do not match local averages.

Develop multiple layers of protection against water

Perhaps the most fulfilling part of working as an engineer, architect, builder, or contractor, is getting to create a new building. Knowing that your work contributed to creating a structure that will last a lifetime is very satisfying.

Doing everything in your power to make sure it lasts a lifetime or more is an essential part of the entire project.

This definitely includes protecting the foundation against water and water damage.

Trusted and experienced builders know that you can’t simply choose one method of waterproofing and expected to work. Nature is inventive. Nature finds ways. The prudent builder knows that the best offense is multiple defenses.

Here are some of the ways you can defend your foundation from water.

An external coat, sealant or membrane

Perhaps the most comprehensive approach to keeping water away from your foundation is similar to the approach you would take if you were going outside in the rain. You would put on a waterproof membrane, in this case a coat.

Well you can get a coat for your foundation too.

These waterproof barriers can wrap around your entire foundation and be sealed together to create a continuous waterproof wrap. Because they can be sealed together at the ends, these barriers can work much like a coat for your foundation.

In some treatment options, such as split-level foundations or construction on a hill, these can selectively be applied to the problematic side(s) of a building. This approach is less effective and is seldom recommended.

Water drainage and insulation

Even when a foundation is sealed against water, it is still smart to reduce the amount of water that ever makes it to the foundation. Responsible waterproofing companies deal with this by capturing water just below the surface and redirecting it to rainwater pipes downhill from the construction site.

These are often a combination of waterproof mats and water carrying pipes that team up to quickly funnel water away from the foundation.

The comprehensive approach additionally uses sloping away from the foundation so that surface water never even makes it to these other treatments.

Waterproof concrete

A more experimental approach is to try and make concrete that is waterproof. Though some companies claim to have perfected this approach, the naturally permeable nature of concrete, including its dependence on holes to keep it relatively light, means that concrete remains subject to the elemental force of water.

Water vapor can still penetrate and cause trouble when it condenses or – worse – freezes.

If you are looking for ways to protect your foundation from water, look to experienced home and industrial builders to provide a mix of solutions designed for your project.

How Water Creates Cracks in Foundations Over Time

In many climates, water is the most destructive force of nature acting on buildings. Wild major events like flooding and hurricanes rightly capture headlines with billion dollar damages to properties, daily freeze and thaw cycles are a typical homeowner’s seasonal enemy.

This is largely due to an important property specific to water: when it gets cold it shrinks until the point of freezing. When it freezes, it expands. This property, true down to the very molecule of water, allows it to do damage on a massive scale.

Water freezing, melting, dripping in cracks, and then refreezing can literally reshape mountains over time. Sometimes tons of rock suddenly shear off the side of a mountain because of the slow work of freezing water.

It is this force that should cause the property owner to be very respectful of the power of water. Here’s a glimpse at how water breaks rocks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XnCTcjNpuc

Respect water by defending against it

Since water can create the Grand Canyon and wear down mountains that were once as large as the Himalayas, the average homeowner needs to be respectful of its power.

The best way to safeguard your property from the freeze thaw cycle is to not let water get into or against your foundation. As the video above showed, that repeated cycle can open large cracks. However, long before the foundation to a building would ever crack and crumble, smaller cracks would allow water in to damage the property.

These small fissures, sometimes invisible to the eye, can cause untold damage. Small groups of fissures in a concrete base can set the stage for a catastrophic failure when a larger weather event happens. Concrete, softened by tiny freeze-thaw cycles, can suddenly give way, allowing standing water to rush in.

Worse, and less likely, a section collapse in the foundation could leave the structure weakened. This is a very rare occurrence though.

When examining your property or thinking about the transfer of property, it is wise to consider all the places where your building comes in regular contact with water. Every one of those places is a potential weak spot. It is easy to forget the portion of the building that is out of sight including the foundation below ground level and less visible portions of the roof and eaves.

In many climates, these areas need regular visual inspection to ensure that they remain impregnable against water.

Major Medical Problems Caused by Mold

As we have discussed elsewhere, mold can be a hidden hazard in any indoor environment. It can cause a wide range of problems. Most often the result of mold in the environment is that one or more people in that space develop mild allergic symptoms.

 

Mold, however, is frequently blamed for some serious conditions which have led to hospitalization or even death.

 

Medical evidence and research suggests that these more serious situations are never caused by mold alone. Upon examination, many of these cases were made worse by underlying or pre-existing conditions. People with these conditions, when exposed to mold, can experience a sort of domino effect of symptoms, where one immunological response triggers another.

 

 

The “black mold” myth

 

“Black mold” especially has a bad reputation. It has been blamed for breathing problems, seizures, comas, and even death.

 

In reality, though, most common molds appear black. And while some molds prompt more allergic reactions in others, the difference usually lies in the person exposed to the mold, and not in the type of mold.

 

Many people each year are exposed to various types of molds and they experience no ill effects. For some people, however, the reactions can cascade into each other.

 

 

Underlying conditions

 

People with certain underlying conditions are more susceptible to the ill effects of mold. We know that these conditions can be irritated by mold and other allergies, and can trigger reactions that can be, in severe cases, life-threatening.

 

  • When people with asthma are triggered by an allergen like mold, their lungs can quickly become overwhelmed. Mucus in the lungs can block their ability to get enough oxygen to the rest of their body, causing a serious medical condition.
  • Auto-immune disorders. People with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis can find that the mold reaction triggers additional reactions or flare-ups. Often these symptoms are more than just irritating – they are painful, and impair a person’s ability to do work or go about their daily life.
  • While age is not necessarily a health “condition”, it is important to note that very young or very old people are more susceptible to harm from the allergic reaction to mold.

Solutions to mold allergies

 

While a person suffering any of these symptoms could and should treat them with an over-the-counter medication, this is just a short term solution.

 

The most important thing to do is to locate and get rid of the mold. If you cannot find it and treat it on your own, especially if your exposure is causing a reaction that could hurt your health, contact a mold removal specialist.

Common Ailments Caused by Mold

Mold can be a hidden hazard in any indoor or outdoor environment. It can cause a range of health problems. These can sometimes be very minor, like simply being irritated because of an unpleasant smell. However, mold can also cause major health problems which could lead to hospitalization and even death.

 

The minor irritations and annoyances caused by mold are many. Usually the symptoms of mold allergies are related to breathing, with issues in the nose, throat, and lungs. Sometimes these symptoms show up in other body systems, such as the skin.

 

The most common irritations are explained briefly below. If one or more people are experiencing these symptoms in your home or work environment, and you cannot trace the cause to other common allergens, it is time to hire an expert to search for hidden mold in the walls or ceiling.

 

Breathing-related reactions to mold:

 

  • Runny nose: a sudden continuous stream of mucus from your nose is a common sign of mold allergy
  • A sore throat: usually also caused by mucus running down the back of the throat, the allergic sore throat shows up several hours after initial exposure
  • Sinusitis: this inflammation of the sinuses usually shows up as painful pressure beneath your cheeks is an allergic expansion of the lining of your sinuses
  • Wheezing: mold reactions can also cause bronchial swelling in your breathing tube or lungs, which can cause a wheezing sound as you breathe
  • Coughing: allergic coughing is not deep or productive. Instead, these are small, constant coughs as your breathing system works to clear excess mucus from your windpipe
  • Sneezing: your body tries to clear the allergen and the mucus from your nose and mouth by sneezing

 

Non-breathing-related reactions to mold:

 

  • Headache: this is commonly triggered by sinusitis, where swelling in uncommon places strains the body’s reactions to the mold
  • Mild rash: rashes can show up in different places in different people, but are most common in areas of exposed skin, where direct contact has been made with mold in the air
  • Watery eyes, or red eyes: mold in the air can also come into contact with your eyes, and your bodily defenses will make your eyes weepy and they will turn red with irritation

 

 

If you suspect mold is present, take action

Of course, all of these reactions are worse if the person experiencing them has underlying conditions such as asthma, eczema, or any of a range of auto immune diseases.

 

If you are experiencing these symptoms regularly, check your environment for the presence of mold, and consult your doctor to address the symptoms until the mold can be removed.

Four Key Qualities in Choosing a Waterproofing Company

When choosing a waterproofing company for your residential or commercial application, there are four important areas to review. You want to make sure your builder or contractor has a wide range of experience, the products used are backed with a warranty, the installers are certified in their work, and that they address the water problem with several solutions.

 

Making sure you have the best answers in all four areas will help guarantee that your final project is not only beautiful in the short run, but is functional and dry for years to come.

 

 

Commercial and residential experience

 

Do you want the waterproofing company you choose to have as much experience as possible. While being a specialist may sound ideal, the reality is that experience itself is the best teacher. Companies that work in residential and commercial sites simply have more experience keeping water away from buildings.

 

You want to select a builder or contractor who will bring all of their experience to your project. The foundation work to keep your building dry for a generation is no place to cut corners.

 

While residential and commercial applications are different, the enemy is the same, and all of the experience matters.

 

 

Products backed with a warranty

 

Experts in protecting foundations know that some products work better than others. Let’s face it, when you’re building a house you don’t want to choose the product that your cousin Irv says will probably work.

 

You want to choose a company that only uses products with a warranty. This means they have tested the product and are willing to stand behind it.

 

It also means that if something goes wrong, this company and this warranty will protect you from some or all of the financial liability to make it right.

 

 

Certified and trained installers

 

In water control, there is no space for error. Covering 99% of an exposed wall means that this wall is susceptible to water infiltration and damage.

 

For this reason it is crucial that the contractor or builder you choose has installers that are certified and trained as much as the industry can provide certification and training.

 

The company you hire should be quick to point out their training and certification experience.

 

 

Offer several solutions

 

The reality is that protecting a foundation or other exposed area of a building from water means implementing multiple solutions that work in concert. The company you choose should offer to do more than one solution.

 

Instead of merely covering one side of one wall with a product, your contractor or company should talk with you about redirecting the water before it ever gets to that space.

 

This could include drainage, sloping, water runoff solutions, as well as waterproofing treatments for the foundation itself.

 

If the company you choose provide satisfactory answers in all four of these areas, you can be confident that you will be getting the highest quality waterproofing available.

The Cost of Mold Removal

A common nightmare for builders is the discovery of mold in a recent project. The cost for mold abatement can be immense in both time and money.

 

Mold abatement can cost up to $25 per square foot. However, this cost is not limited to the areas covered with visible mold. Often contracts require the builder to do abatement in areas adjacent to observed mold, as mold in one location indicates that the environment was right for mold to grow elsewhere. This means that costs can multiply quickly.

 

The inspections themselves – requested by the client in advance and required by clients and the law after the work is completed – can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

 

And there are even cost beyond time and money. When mold is discovered on a construction site or in a project done by a company, that company’s reputation takes a hit.

 

So your best investment is in prevention.

 

Prevent mold by keeping water and humidity out

 

To prevent mold, select contractors who are trained and certificated in using the best methods to prevent leaks, drainage, and trapped vapor. These contractors will talk to you about their training and demonstrate certification in best practices to prevent mold.

 

More importantly, they will take proactive steps to mitigate the conditions in which mold can grow in the first place.

 

Keeping a foundation dry through effective drainage and water management is important. Also,  using the best waterproofing materials helps to ensure that water that makes contact with your building will be kept out.

 

Prevent mold by ensuring adequate ventilation

 

Of course, moisture can get into a building site in lots of different ways. The foundation is a common route as ground water or rainwater finds its way through the tiniest cracks. However, on construction sites, moisture is just as likely to build up from rainwater blowing in through unsecured tarps or where the roof is not yet installed.

 

In these cases, waterproofing materials alone are not enough. Care must be taken to allow adequate ventilation. In an open construction site this typically is not a problem as ventilation occurs naturally where there are no windows or walls. However in more constricted areas builders choose to add temporary ventilation until HVAC units are installed, inspected, and fully functional. This helps ensure that water won’t build up, leaving a place for mold to grow.

 

Prevent mold by using products that fight mold

 

Construction and waterproofing experts are also aware that there are products they can use that fight mold. This includes paints and stains created with fungicides in their formula. A final step in a project that involved a lot of humidity can involve a specific treatment with a fungicide to make sure that no mold was allowed to fester as a potential time bomb.

Mold Abatement Certification

When you identify a mold problem, you need to take immediate action. This can involve trying an over-the-counter product, using dishwashing gloves, and perhaps sponges and wipes you have under your sink.

 

But is this the best way to do it?

 

In many cases, this immediate action will address most of the problem. However, often where there is visible mold, there is invisible mold and related problems. If you are a homeowner or renter, this might be enough. If you are a landlord, and you have more than just your own health and well-being in mind, you might choose to hire someone for mold abatement.

 

That person should be a certified and trained mold abatement specialist.

 

What is a mold remediation certification?

 

In every state there are expectations and laws for the procedures to remove mold. This is because mold can be dangerous not just to the resident or occupant of the area where it was found, but to the person(s) removing it.

 

This training includes specialized instruction on the proper tools and methods to address various kinds of mold.

 

Mold remediation certification includes training and identifying types of mold. There are some common types of mold that are less harmful than others. Sure, all kinds of mold are undesirable, but some are actually dangerous to human health.

 

Knowing the difference between regular and hazardous mold is an important part of the training and certification process.

 

Additionally, there are common household products that are often used for mold abatement. But not every over-the-counter product is the right product. Some only address part of the problem.

 

And there are some molds and situations where the right response is removing everything that showed signs of mold, so the answer is construction, not treatment. Knowing the difference is part of the training.

 

Additionally, experts are trained on how to treat the contamination without spreading mold spores and otherwise exposing people to further concerns.

 

Finally, understanding the laws and regulations in your area is another part of the training. There are specific requirements for how to do mold abatement, and whoever owns the property is responsible for following these rules completely.

 

If you are seeking to get mold abatement certification, or are seeking someone who has it, you can start by checking out CHC Training, where they offer state-by-state information about taking and completing the training.

 

You can also verify that the person you have contacted to do the work has this certification at their site.

 

The safest option is the best option!

What Landlords Need to Know About Mold and the Law

As a landlord or a renter, you need to know the laws around mold in rental properties. Having this information can help keep you safe and legally protected.

 

Most states do not have laws about mold and mold control specifically. However, laws around maintaining a safe and healthy habitat can apply to certain types of mold. Mold, in addition to causing an allergic reactions in many people, can also be hazardous to people’s health whether or not they have an allergy.

 

You can learn more here about mold and mold-related concerns.

 

In general, the law obligates a landlord to keep a safe and healthy premise for a renter. This does not mean that the landlord is responsible for cleaning up a renter’s mess while the renter still occupies the property. This means that mold created by activities of the renter are not necessarily the landlord’s responsibility.

 

The renter’s responsibility: If a renter fails to do routine cleaning, such as cleaning tub and tile in a bathroom, or drying up spills from regular washroom or kitchen activities, the landlord is not obligated to address those problems for the renter. It is the occupant’s responsibility for routine cleaning.

 

The renter must also report mold or concerns promptly in order to trigger the landlord’s responsibility. For instance, if a leaky roof creates a moldy spot in a bedroom ceiling, a renter should not wait to report it. Claiming that a spot has been present for months in a space where the landlord is unlikely to see it does not obligate the landlord.

 

The landlord’s responsibility: A landlord must respond promptly to a renter’s concerns about leaking water or mold spots on ceilings or walls. Leaks from pipes or exterior water are not the renter’s responsibility. These types of concerns must be addressed the same day that that they are brought up, or as soon as reasonably possible.

 

The landlord should also do a visual check of the property periodically. This can happen on a pre-scheduled date, or it can happen organically when they are called into a space to work on a reported problem. For instance, if the landlord must repair the washing machine, that’s a great time to do a visual inspection of the washroom and other adjacent spaces, and bring concerns to the renter’s attention.

 

This searchable database can help you learn more about the laws in your state. Protect yourself by knowing and following these legal guidelines.

The Cost of Mold Removal

construction-waterproofing

A common nightmare for builders is the discovery of mold in a recent project. The cost for mold abatement can be immense in both time and money.

Mold abatement can cost up to $25 per square foot. However, this cost is not limited to the areas covered with visible mold. Often contracts require the builder to do abatement in areas adjacent to observed mold, as mold in one location indicates that the environment was right for mold to grow elsewhere. This means that costs can multiply quickly.

The inspections themselves – requested by the client in advance and required by clients and the law after the work is completed – can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

And there are even cost beyond time and money. When mold is discovered on a construction site or in a project done by a company, that company’s reputation takes a hit.

So your best investment is in prevention.

Prevent mold by keeping water and humidity out

To prevent mold, select contractors who are trained and certificated in using the best methods to prevent leaks, drainage, and trapped vapor. These contractors will talk to you about their training and demonstrate certification in best practices to prevent mold.

More importantly, they will take proactive steps to mitigate the conditions in which mold can grow in the first place.

Keeping a foundation dry through effective drainage and water management is important. Also, using the best waterproofing materials helps to ensure that water that makes contact with your building will be kept out.

Prevent mold by ensuring adequate ventilation

Of course, moisture can get into a building site in lots of different ways. The foundation is a common route as ground water or rainwater finds its way through the tiniest cracks. However, on construction sites, moisture is just as likely to build up from rainwater blowing in through unsecured tarps or where the roof is not yet installed.

In these cases, waterproofing materials alone are not enough. Care must be taken to allow adequate ventilation. In an open construction site this typically is not a problem as ventilation occurs naturally where there are no windows or walls. However in more constricted areas builders choose to add temporary ventilation until HVAC units are installed, inspected, and fully functional. This helps ensure that water won’t build up, leaving a place for mold to grow.

Prevent mold by using products that fight mold

Construction and waterproofing experts are also aware that there are products they can use that fight mold. This includes paints and stains created with fungicides in their formula. A final step in a project that involved a lot of humidity can involve a specific treatment with a fungicide to make sure that no mold was allowed to fester as a potential time bomb.