Cedaridge Services Inc.

April 19, 2005 16:31 ET

Non-compliant cladding systems pose hidden risk

Building owners need to heed warning posed by recent Ontario Building Code Commission ruling Attention: Business/Financial Editor, City Editor, Home/Garden Editor BEETON, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 19, 2005) - A recent Ontario Building Code Commission ruling should provide a warning to building owners and municipalities to take another look at the exterior cladding systems on some of the buildings constructed in the past few years, says an Ontario professional building envelope consultant.

There are changes to the Limitations Act in Ontario, shortening the time period designers and builders can be held responsible for defects. Procrastination could be costly, said Robert Marshall, P. Eng., LEED(r)A.P., president of Cedaridge Services Inc.
The commission ruling (No. 03-32-930) is the first ruling to deal with Part 5 (Wind, Water and Vapour Protection) of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) which is similar to the National Building Code (NBC). In the specific case, the commission found that the as-constructed face-sealed exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) used on an Ajax, Ontario, hotel did not meet the specific requirements of the OBC. It also found that there was insufficient information, studies or test results submitted to ensure that the system would perform up to the standards of the OBC.

The problem, in the Ajax case, was that the exterior cladding system was a hybrid wall system, said Marshall, who was the consultant for the municipality in the case. Specific concerns were the face-sealing is not well executed, lacks proper surface drainage, is missing flashings, and lacked any field review by a third party. As a result, the system would not necessarily prevent water from getting through the exterior cladding and there is potential for water penetration which could cause deterioration of the exterior building envelope. In addition, there was no provision for drainage behind the exterior cladding. With nowhere to go, the water could create an ideal environment for mould growth or other moisture related problems.

Similar difficulties played a prominent role in British Columbia's "leaky condo" crisis, Marshall said and that is why, for potential health and safety reasons, it is important to make building owners and municipalities aware of the potential hidden risk.
Both building owners and building officials should take a close look at cladding systems that have been put in place recently, he said. Some of these may comply with the code and others may not provide sufficiency of compliance with Articles 5.1.4.2. and 5.6.2.1. of the OBC and therefore may not be capable of delivering performance at a code compliance level.

Other residential buildings, like the Ajax hotel, may fall short of the mark. Articles 5.1.4.2. and 5.6.2.1. of the OBC, are similar to the requirements in the 1995 National Building Code, therefore buildings across Canada may pose a hidden risk. As the B.C. experience has shown, falling short of the minimum Building Codes can prove to be both inconvenient and costly in the long run.

For non-compliant buildings, the solution is to correct the problem before moisture and mould problems take hold, Marshall said, and the sooner those corrective actions are taken the better. The changes in the Limitations Act in Ontario allow only two years after a defect is discovered, or ought to have been discovered, to take action against a building's designer and builder. Marshall recommends a lawyer be consulted for legal interpretations and any potential actions.
/For further information: Robert Marshall Cedaridge Services Inc. (705) 458-9231/ IN: ECONOMY, TECHNOLOGY, OTHER

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