Staying Ahead of Trouble Building Exteriors Need Regular Checkups, Too

Remember the old jingle, ‘it takes a licking and keeps on ticking’? It was the famous tagline from the Timex watch advertisements. The gist of the ad is that no matter what you threw at it, a Timex watch kept working.

If you think about it, a building’s exterior is almost like a Timex watch. Each year, Mother Nature throws its best curveballs – intense sun, high winds, fierce rains, heavy loads of snow and ice, and frigid temperatures – at the outside of your condo buildings. Don’t forget the pollution, dirt from such animals as pigeons and, of course, any items that accidentally hit the exterior. The exterior continues to stand and takes it all in. Well, almost. A building’s exterior can take a lot of abuse, but after time, it does begin to show wear and tear and needs some TLC.

“New England is located in a very harsh climate made up of many different regions,” says Jeff Barnes, building envelope consultant at Atlantic Restoration Corp. in Woburn, Massachusetts. “The areas that make up the seacoast see more wind and salt/sand damage from extreme weather events such as Nor’easters. The western and northern regions go through harsher freeze-thaw cycles, which can put severe strain on the components that make up the building envelope.”

The Root of All Evil

Due to this harsh climate, Russ Fernandes, principal/senior vice president of Becht Engineering BT, Inc., in Boston, says that most common problems are probably storm and/or weather damage to roofing and siding.

“Water is the root of all evil when it comes to buildings, so such damage must be identified and repaired in a timely manner,” he says. “Lately, we have been finding problems with wood decks and balconies, especially on buildings built in the 1980s or early 1990s. Many were not properly constructed to begin with and, given their age and exposure to the elements for that period of time, are becoming problematic. During spring inspections, we also find asphalt paving and concrete that has been damaged by the elements.”


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