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Strategies for Stopping Water Infiltration Before, During and After Construction

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One of the biggest losses that can occur during and after construction is water damage. By the time water damage is evident, it will have already caused significant problems in a construction project. Vast or minimal, water damage can wreak havoc, creating project delays, decreasing profitability, and increasing needless insurance claims.

Mitigating water damage losses is a priority for any construction firm. To avoid project delays and costly mistakes, here are strategies to prevent water damage across all phases of a construction project.

Understanding the causes of water damage

Multiple factors can contribute to water damage. And when these correlating factors converge over time, significant damage and losses can occur. With water damage potentially taking years to become evident, it is best to understand the potential causes of water damage.

Causes typically include:

  • Drainage system failure
  • Unsecured building openings
  • Inefficient material storage
  • Site drainage problems
  • Foundation and structural element problems
  • Water delivery system failure

Addressing these causes at their source across all phases of a construction project ensures prevention from the roots of each factor. Understanding water damage symptoms and keeping an eye out for trouble spots minimizes potential issues.

Failure to acknowledge potential hot spots can exacerbate the issue, leading to further damages and losses.

Pre-construction assessment

Before starting a construction project, be sure to take several measures to eliminate potential problems. Designing a Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) program to address water damage will ascertain a certain degree of success during execution.

Reviewing construction designs to address potential faults that could lead to water damage is essential. Plans and specifications must also be reviewed and, if necessary, hire waterproofing experts to establish areas susceptible to water infiltration.

During site research, establish protocols for proper drainage, securing a drainage process that draws water away from excavations and structures. Provide adequate retention ponds to retain water runoff and release. Retention ponds ensure your building site addresses stormwater attenuation and any other natural weather phenomena.

Discourse must also take place to discuss materials, methods, compatibility with local conditions, and code compliance. Evaluating materials such as construction grouting enforces an understanding of interrelation and compatibility, furthering the elimination of potential design problems.

Lastly, consider the application of pumping systems to prevent flooding from stormwater attenuation or system failure.

Active construction measures

Adherence to the QA/QC program is critical during the active construction phase. The QA/QC program must be reinforced company-wide. This includes subcontractors working on the building site.

During the ongoing process of construction, it is necessary to maintain a high degree of inspection, auditing all processes and reporting any issues as they arise. Improvements must be implemented to maintain quality control and risk mitigation. Constant awareness of key risk factors reduces water issues.

A dedicated team should be onsite during the active construction phase to identify potential deficiency problems or any water protection issues. This construction defect team should be led by the project’s Quality Director to enforce improvements and track construction progress.

A disaster plan should be formulated in the case of an emergency, such as severe weather or structural failures, to mitigate further risks. Delegation is important to ensure all duties and responsibilities are covered in such an emergency. This list of duties and responsibilities should include specific courses of action to address all possible emergency scenarios.

Post-construction considerations

As water damage occurs over time, with leaks gradually appearing years later, a punch list must be established in the event that water damage manifests post-construction. This punch list will address specific items that may require repair, from construction defects to workmanship inadequacies.

Maintaining a team to address water-related problems prevents further water damage from occurring, and guarantees that all water issues are resolved with determined efficiency.

Post-construction, the project should be inspected semi-annually, preferably after summer and winter as both seasons present several severe weather phenomena that can cause site material deterioration, leading to potential water infiltration.

Preventative maintenance should be employed and all resources and tools, like mechanical grout packers, made available to the post-construction team to ensure safety isn’t compromised.

Water-related issues should be addressed with immediate effect. Taking the necessary action when and if issues arise ensures that the project is closed out properly.

Conclusion

Vigilance across all phases of construction is critical to minimize and prevent water infiltration. While water damage can contribute to significant problems to a construction site, the good news is, with careful consideration and the implementation of water risk management, water losses can be prevented.

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