Building envelope inspections are a cost-saving strategy many property owners often overlook. It might seem like an unnecessary cost, but it is a great proactive measure that saves money in the long run.
What is a Building Envelope Inspection?
A building envelope inspection helps identify deficiencies that lead to costly exterior and interior damage. The condition of your building envelope deteriorates over time, impacting its appearance, value, energy efficiency, and comfort level. Inspections are conducted by a consultant – and at times with the assistance of your preferred contractor. They inspect all components of the building’s exterior to assess the current condition, recommend required repairs, and offer insights into future failures.
How Does the Inspection Save Money?
Inspections address the three key components of the envelope: 1) Air Barrier, 2) Weather Barrier, and 3) Heat or Thermal Barrier. This includes:
- The wall system, junction of the foundations, knee walls, thermal resistance, thermal envelope insulation, and air barrier
- The windows, doors, and skylights for proper sealing, integrity, and performance of all parts
- The rim joists’ air barrier and insulation
- The shafts and penetrations opening to the exterior
- The garage and parking spaces
- The HVAC air barrier criteria and exterior exposures
- The roof
- Sealing of HVAC supply and return register boots penetrating the thermal building envelope
- Façade materials such as masonry, curtain walls, etc.
- Other considerations specific to the building
Monitoring damage allows you to keep ahead of further damage, limiting the investment required over the building’s lifetime. The intent of the investigation is to identify the need for repairs, ensuring they are conducted in a timely manner.
What Impacts the Cost of Building Envelope Inspections?
The cost depends on the type of building. For example, high-rise buildings require swing stage access, scaffolding, and other types of equipment, whereas a single-story building does not. As well there are safety considerations involved, such as overhead and fencing protection that impact the cost. Remember, the higher the building, the more it costs to repair damage caused by envelope failure. Therefore, the potential savings tend to outweigh the inspection costs.
What Happens Once the Inspection is Complete?
Any issues discovered are listed with the work required, recommended timing, and costs. All recommended repairs are designed to prevent further damage and save you money down the road.
Why are Building Envelope Inspections Strategic?
There are several reasons inspections are strategic:
- Expertise: Your consultant understands all elements of envelope fatigue and will look for opportunities to avoid costly damage in the future.
- Protects the building interior: Spotting exterior damage in the early stages prevents costly secondary damage to the building interior.
- Cost-effective: Prevention is always far more cost-effective than taking a reactive approach to maintenance. For example, failed waterproofing causes major structural damage to concrete structural slabs. If the waterproofing is repaired, you avoid rapid concrete deterioration that can lead to possible collapse.
- Repairs versus replacement: You can budget effectively when you understand the progression of issues. Inspectors point out when your ongoing repairs cost you more than replacement.
- Mitigate liabilities: Inspections avoid building catastrophes that lead to possible litigations.
- Reporting: Inspections provide reports and records to keep your maintenance on track.
- Longer life: Repairs prolong the life of both your building envelope and interiors throughout its life stages.
Qualified building envelope inspections are highly strategic as they protect your assets, sustain property value, and improve building performance during its lifetime.
If you would like more information about building envelopes and inspections, speak to the experts at WellDone Inc., a building restoration company specializing in building improvements for commercial and multi-unit residential buildings throughout the GTA.