After over 25 years of figuring out why buildings end up as catastrophic mold and moisture building failures – there are some apparent truths that have remained seemingly unchanged.

 

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Buildings should not be designed in silos (but they still are). Despite advances in technical understanding and higher standards for building performance, like building envelope airtightness, the design task for the building envelope is still being completed in a vacuum of other critical disciplines. On a recent project, the facade consultant was asked how their design interfaced with the overall building pressurization requirements established by the HVAC design. The answer: “We don’t consider that in our design. They do their thing and we do ours.”

Continue Reading Three Forgotten Truths about Mold and Moisture Building Failures

Do You Know the Vital Signs for Avoiding Moisture & Mold Problems?

Will Your Brand Standards Cause You Headaches?

How Will You Recover Costs If You Do Get Into Trouble?

 

Sign up for our free July 10 webinar on “Hotel Renovations: More Than Just Minding the Dust”.

 

The time has come to perform that next renovation cycle for your hotel. You have successfully lined up your team of property staff, designers, and contractors. You are pleased with the fresh look proposed by the designers. Work is scheduled around your occupancy rate and the first wave of workers is let loose. You are ready for success – until the unexpected happens. Hidden moisture and mold damage disrupts your schedule, delays your reopening, requires redesign work, and increases the construction budget with a multitude of change orders.

If you had seen this coming, your entire renovation strategy would have been altered from the beginning. But could you have seen it coming? Most likely….if you had checked the essential building vital signs. A hotel owner/operator should assess these markers as the first step in any renovation to determine the potential for hidden moisture and mold damage. Understanding those vital signs, as well as the possible negative impact of brand standards, is critical for success.

Continue Reading Hotel Renovation: More Than Just Minding the Dust

moisture problems

Suppose there was a tool that could predict, before a single penny was spent on construction, the likelihood of whether your building would fail. Not only that, but this tool could also provide you with enough information to make significant design changes that would dramatically decrease any risk factors. Would you be interested? Of course you would.

At the risk of oversimplifying a complex process that contains multiple variables, we believe we have created such a tool. The following moisture prediction charts have been adapted from a mold and moisture manual Liberty Building Forensics Group developed for Disney Corporation in the early 1990s. Over the past two decades, they have been beta-tested on literally thousands of hotels, and have proven time and time again to be as true today as they were 20 years ago.

Although the charts were created with hotel guest rooms and wall cavities in mind, the general principles demonstrated would hold true for most buildings. Hotels just happen to be the simplest commercial building structure, so they were the easiest to beta test. Continue Reading The Incredible Predictability of Moisture Problems

Avoid Catastrophic Mold and Moisture Problems in Hot, Humid Climates Due to Air Barrier Standard Confusion

 

By George DuBose, CGC; Richard Scott, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP; and Donald B. Snell, PC CIEC

 

Imagine the following scenario: you just designed your newest project to meet the most current whole building air leakage standards, and your mechanical engineer subconsultant has designed an HVAC system that includes one of the latest energy recovery strategies. Both factors are intended to meet high energy efficiency goals, making you proud that your firm is doing its part (amongst other things) to minimize your impact on the climate change problem.

Continue Reading Till Death Do Us Part: Preventing a Facade and HVAC Divorce When It Comes to Air Barrier Performance

As the building and construction industry continues to come out of the hibernation that has been the norm since 2009, it unfortunately appears that it’s déjà vu all over again when it comes to water-related building failures. As new buildings are being constructed, the same design and construction deficiencies of the past are being repeated, leading to (often catastrophic) mold and moisture problems.

 

It may seem somewhat unbelievable that the industry still finds itself making these same basic mistakes time after time. After all, preventative solutions to these issues have been understood and well-published for many years.

 

Continue Reading Design and Construction Amnesia: We Have Lost our Minds and it is Causing Catastrophic Mold and Moisture Building Failures

 

Here is an all-too-common scenario: A design and construction team is awarded a new hotel project. The design and construction standards are passed on to the team. The team adheres exactly to the requirements of exterior wall design and HVAC system design only to discover during final stages of construction that the actual performance of the design is vastly different than expected.  Unsuspecting hotel design and construction teams need to heed the warning: “Rigid adherence to hotel design and construction standards without factoring in specific regional and climatic conditions can result in significant mold and moisture issues in new hotel construction.”

 

Continue Reading Clash of the Titans: When Hotel Design and Construction Standards Cause Catastrophic Mold Problems

The theory behind design and construction (D&C) standards is to provide assurances that the hotel is built to requirements that meet the brand’s expectation for aesthetic, operational, and building performance. D&C standards portray themselves as a repository of lessons learned and of what should be done (and, by implication, what should not be done) to make the hotel work. However, theory proves contrary to actual practice in this case because D&C standards are developed on a global basis. They typically do not take into consideration specific needs and limitations of regional climates. In fact, it has been found that these  D&C standards often don’t comply with recommended building practices for certain climates at all. These violations in the D&C standards have been shown repeatedly to result in extensive and costly mold and moisture problems in hotels.

 

In the case of a 140-room hotel in a warm and humid climate in Texas, the hotel began to experience significant mold and moisture problems that resulted in more than $5 million of damage claim against the general contractor. D&C standards for the hotel required that the mechanical system provide roof top units (RTUs) for conditioning of the corridors with 10% additional outdoor air for building pressurization. Liberty’s measurements of relative pressurization confirmed the cause of visual evidence of mold growth behind the VWC. With all HVAC systems operating (RTUs, PTACs, and toilet exhausts), the guestrooms were and wall cavities were under high negative pressure relative to outdoor air. Even with the toilet exhaust fans turned off, guestrooms were barely under positive pressure, and some were still under negative pressure (see Figure 1). Negative pressurization, as a result of misapplication of brand standards, results in drawing in of warm, humid air which leads to mold growth.

 

Continue Reading Brand Demands: Can These Be The Cause of Catastrophic Mold Problems?

The immediate future looks bright for South Florida as it basks in a revival of new construction. But Florida-based Liberty Building Forensics Group (LBFG) cautions designers, engineers, and contractors not to let history repeat itself.

 

A significant number of condo projects built in Miami in the early 2000’s ended in litigation due to building failures such as new product failures, humidity and mold problems, air conditioning failures, and even falling stucco off the building. Despite being a lengthy, costly, and hostile learning method, litigation is unfortunately construction’s only true form of feedback.

Continue Reading What’s to Prevent a Repeat of 2006 Failures in South Florida’s 2016 Construction Boom?

The mission of designing high-performance buildings that promote sustainable objectives has led to new success stories but has also revealed vulnerabilities for potential mold and moisture failures.

 

The interaction between a building’s HVAC system and envelope creates an unusually high-risk area. Any deficiency in either system can cause dramatic, building-wide moisture and mold problems. Through the emergence of high-performance buildings combined with the use of certain new green products, designers and contractors have inadvertently created high-risk buildings when, in fact, the goal should be to develop high-performance buildings with the lowest possible risk of failure.

Continue Reading New Online Course Demonstrates How to Design and Construct High-Performance, Low-Risk Buildings While Avoiding Catastrophic Mold and Moisture Problems