Have you ever thought while enjoying a barbeque or a good sunny summer day on your balcony that the floor you are standing or sitting on was not safe? Did it cross your mind that the nice finishes on your balcony contain nothing but rotten wood members.Precision Forensics Inc. (PFI) was retained to investigate a similar situation where the damage occurred to a four-story condominium building.

The insured filed a claim in which they reported staining, cracking, and bulging of the “Exterior Insulation and Finish System” finish (EFIS). A contractor was retained and arrangements were made together with PFI to expose the framing members for a single series of three stacked balconies. When the EFIS was removed, the extensive wood rot was identified in numerous beams, columns, and decking members. Contrary to the exterior walls of the building, a waterproofing membrane was not installed to protect the wood members from water damage. The exterior insulation was installed by means of horizontal glue strips and mechanical fasteners. Water penetrated the EFIS finish and was entrapped behind the insulation causing the non-protected wood members to rot.

PFI reviewed the architectural and structural drawings of the building. It was found that a detail for a waterproofing membrane was not provided for the balconies. Column and beam flashings and tie-ins were poorly designed, and installation criteria for EFIS were not provided. Damage to the balconies was attributed to the missing waterproofing membrane and poor design.

PFI was further involved in quantifying the structural damage to each set of balconies and provided structural repair recommendations. Damage and construction inspection reports were provided for each balcony, and compensation and coverage required from both the insurance company and the condo board were determined. In 2017, PFI also prepared detailed building envelope drawings with new tie-ins, flashings, and cant wood strip details to facilitate water drainage was provided.