Windstorm Insurance Claims, Coverage, Experts & Litigation

Gina Lozier – Berger Singerman

  • About Gina Lozier
  • 2017 Hurricane Season Damages & Costs
  • Insurance Company Claim Mitigation Tactics
  • Why policy owners should have an expert on their side
  • When claims go to trial, etc.

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

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Derek: I’d like to welcome our listeners to the ”Everything Building Envelope” podcast today. My name is Derek Segal and I’m a building envelope consultant with GCI Consultants, a podcast to bring you great information about our industry today and I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of this. Today’s guest that we’re fortunate to have is Gina Clausen Lozier of the law from Berger Singerman. Welcome, Gina.

Gina: Hi, Derek, I thank you for having me here today.

Derek: Gina, great. Can you tell us a little bit about and the listeners about yourself and how your journey came to put you where you are today with Berger Singerman?

Gina: Oh, absolutely. I am an attorney who represents policyholders against insurance companies. I have been with Berger Singerman for almost five years now. I’m a partner there with the firm. Prior to being with Berger Singerman, I was a partner at a large statewide insurance defense firm, so I learned a lot about the industry from representing the insurance companies and all of the different coverage obligations and compliance issues, you know, the policyholders face every day. So now I’m able to use that information and my experience on this side to represent the policyholders against the insurance company. So I’ve been practicing for almost 12 years, very involved in the industry with the Wind Storm Insurance Network and FAPIA and different other organizations. So use all that experience as well and in my everyday work. And I’m excited to be here and talk about how the industry has changed over the past 12 years since I’ve been practicing.

Derek: Great. That’s all fantastic information, especially the fact that you’ve kind of, you see the picture and the challenges from both sides. And, you know, with that said, it leads into a very good question and I did a little bit of research before our podcast today. I don’t know if you knew this or if our listeners knew any of this, but 2017 was the costliest hurricane season ever accounting for an estimated $320 billion in damages, a total of 17 main storms and the 7 most active ever since record-keeping began in 1851. I mean, that’s dramatic. Conversely, 2018, we had not necessarily the most storms, but we had four category four between 2017 and 2018, excuse me, four category four storms to hit the continental U.S. as well as Puerto Rico. And you know, that’s, I think why, you know, this podcast today, it’s so important is because, you know, property owners out there are facing some of the biggest challenges ever. And insurance companies strictly are not making life easier and it’s important to know what you’re doing and have an experienced team in place to help you through the process. So, you know, with that said, you know, what can listeners expect when they report a claim? What do they have to be ready for? What should they have document wise? What are some of the challenges they’re gonna face out there?

Gina: Yeah, you know, Derek, those points that you made are really interesting, especially because I don’t think we even can realize the impact of the 2018 season yet given that Michael was in the not so recent past. So I can expect those numbers to significantly increase. And, you know, one of the other things that you had mentioned is, you know, people, the policyholders, insureds are making comments about how difficult it is to get the insurance companies to pay. And I hear that every day, unfortunately. I hear it from the residential clients that I have who are just trying to restore their home, so they can move on with our lives. And I hear it from the commercial developers who are dealing with multiple properties well into the eight million, you know, I’m sorry, the eight-figure claims that they’re also not getting paid.

So there’s really, you know, the carriers are doing this across the board. It’s not specific to any type of claim, you know, residential versus commercial or high end. It’s kind of a general consensus that things have gotten more difficult to get the carriers to pay for various reasons, which I think, of course, we’ll talk about today. But to focus back around to your point about what you can expect when you report a claim, one of the first things that we’re seeing now that may not have generally been a consensus of the past is that the insurance companies are hiring experts right out the gate. And there’s a lot of reasons for that that have evolved over the years since the 2004-2005 hurricane season. A lot of which has to do with the different policy language that has been approved by OIR.

But one of the first things we’re seeing is that the insurance companies are asking to send out an engineer. They’re sending out building consultants who may not necessarily be licensed, independent adjusters. They may not necessarily be licensed contractors. They are consultants who are sent out there to assist the insurance company in scoping and pricing the loss, you know, in conjunction with an independent adjuster or seeing a team converge on these properties and these inspections taking days and potentially then weeks, which unfortunately is kind of working almost sometimes to delay the claim as well.

Derek: Right. Yeah. I mean, yet you’ve got a homeowner or a property owner that’s stressed out, they’ve just gone through a life-changing event and they’re being confronted with this team defending on them. I mean, what I’m seeing out there as well is that some of these experts are coming from out of state California, Texas. Florida is a pretty interesting area because the code is very specific here and there are types of construction that are not the same as they are in a non-dream wind prone zone like Florida.

I mean, some of these people don’t really know what they’re looking at and they don’t know how to accurately evaluate this. Does this make it even more vital for homeowners and property owners to have someone like yourself and someone on their side to handle this process and make sure that the property’s full damage is accurately evaluated not only for the claim but for a property owner to make sure that they know exactly what happened to their property.

Gina: No, absolutely. It used to be, as I mentioned in the past, the insurance company would investigate a loss and issue a coverage decision and pay undisputed or then you would just fight over the difference in the amount or the coverage. It’s not happening like that anymore. So absolutely it’s vital, especially in certain circumstances to have a team of experts to counteract what the insurance company’s team of experts is doing. It’s funny you mentioned that having all these experts and consultants come from out of state. I was on an inspection last year following Irma and the building roofing consultants were from Iowa. And it was in December and it’s not too hot in Florida in December. But they were only able to stay on the roof for two hours because they said it was too hot outside.

So it’s little things like that that absolutely do make a difference because when the insured is opening up their property for an all-day inspection and you have the insurance company’s consultants not able to move forward with that inspection, it just delays things and it’s an inconvenience to the insurer and the property owners. But you know, with respect to having that team of experts, it’s absolutely important. And there’s a few reasons why, which I’m happy to go into detail why experts and consultants should be retained, and in most cases, should be retained early on in the claim.

Derek: Is this something, yeah. Gina, is this something that’s paid for? Like, you know, again, cost is an issue. These people have just incurred a loss. They’ve got to spend money to fix their property. How are they gonna be able to afford cost? Is the insurance company gonna stroke them a check out of the gate to pay for someone to fight them? I don’t think so.

Gina: No, I haven’t seen that. I would love that. I haven’t seen it yet, but you know, crazier things are possible. Typically, under a standard homeowners or residential policy, there aren’t many provisions that allow an insurer to recover those costs under the policy. If you get into litigation and you ultimately go to trial or you potentially have an extra-contractual claim, otherwise known as a bad faith claim, there are avenues to recover the costs of your experts and engineers and professionals. It’s a little different in a lot of the commercial policies, especially the ones that are issued by the London syndicate. A lot of times there are provisions in the commercial policies that allow for professional fees. And the professional fees are typically tied to costs that are necessary to investigate the cause of the loss or to quantify the scope of the amount and the damage, which it’s a great thing to have in policies especially when you’re dealing with, you know, a claim that’s well into the millions, these fees add up pretty quickly.

Now the caveat to that is a lot of those provisions will only kick in if you get expressed written authority from the insurance company to incur those fees. So it’s important to understand what that provision says in conjunction with your post-loss obligations because sometimes if you have a duty to give the insurance company itemized quantification of the loss and support for the causes of loss, you have to incur certain expert fees to be able to provide that information to the carrier that they’re actually requesting. So, you know, there’s really not a black and white issue on that, but you always wanna look at the policy to see if those types of fees are recoverable. And make the best argument that you can and preserve your right to seek those costs in the long run.

Derek: Yeah, that’s a good point. I’ve spoken with…in fact, there’s one situation, one story that comes to mind. It’s a loss that we inspected down in Candor where the insurance company sent out their engineer, their engineer basically came out to this condominium complex. He said one of the units actually a huge three fell on this person’s home. And they eventually, six months after Irma made it out, they sent an engineer. The engineer basically said there’s like $15,000 damages, nothing wrong with the home. Well, the homeowner decided to get a second opinion from an independent engineer and basically the home was condemned. You know, they went and they wrote a letter to Dade county basically saying that this home is unsafe for occupation. And I mean, that’s a scary thought because I think a lot of folks out there are under the impression that when insurance companies sends out an expert and quotation marks, this expert has a fiduciary obligation to tell the truth no matter if it’s black or white or gray. And I mean, that’s a scary thought when, you know, these people come out and to a normal homeowner and these people are not getting the right advice and basically, you know, they’re under a huge risk because their home could collapse. I mean, these engineers don’t they have any type of, and maybe you don’t know this out, sort of under some type of oath or don’t they have a fiduciary obligation to do the right thing, so to speak?

Gina: I mean, it’s kind of a difficult question just because it involves so many different aspects. But generally speaking, when the insurance company sends out the engineers, they’re doing so to determine the cause of the loss. And if you look at most of the engineering and consulting reports from insurance company’s experts, it will specifically outline if that is the limited scope of their involvement. And they’re not providing an opinion, most of the time, it’s to the proper method of repair or code compliance issues. So really, it’s such a limited view of the loss that is the homeowner property owners in the position that there is significant damage, especially if it’s structural, they do need to get a second opinion, an independent, you know, engineer, someone who can draw up the plans, someone who can submit the permit, someone who can supervise the work. You know, especially when you’re dealing with, like you mentioned, the code issues in the tri-county area here, there are a lot different than they are across the state of Florida even.

And I have found especially recently given the 2017 and 2018 storms with these higher end commercial apartment complexes and office buildings, a lot of times they were built in the ’60s and the ’70s, and they comply with the code in the ’60s and ’70s but now once you reach a certain threshold of repairs, the building departments are requiring them to upgrade all the life safety issues. And some of these are coming up to such a high level of repair that the ordinance and law on code issues are trumping the actual direct damages from the storm. And that can get really expensive and really technical. And so, you know, if you’re faced with that situation, you absolutely want to get a second opinion. And it’s a good thing that the homeowner, you mentioned with the tree went out and did that. Unfortunately, the property was condemned but it’s not something they…

Derek: Right. But then they actually had to move out.

Gina: Right. You know, it’s unfortunate.

Derek: Tragic. Yeah, good. Let’s move on. That’s some good information about experts and how they fit in. As far as policies today, I mean, my history goes back, I’ve been through several storm seasons. I remember 2004, 2005 used to be a lot simpler. Correct me if I’m wrong, policies were different. They were less stringent on what constituted direct storm damage. I think verbiage has gotten very much more difficult to actually prove. That’s one of the things is that your experience between ’04, ’05 versus, you know, now, are there any other trap doors or any other loopholes that, you know, homeowners need to be aware of that may come back to hurt them later on?

Gina: Absolutely. In my prior life as a defense attorney, you know, I grew up with the litigation following Frances Jean and Wilma back in 2004 to about 2010 and I handled hundreds, if not thousands of lawsuits. And that time on behalf of insurance companies and the policies were absolutely different then. So you’re seeing a little bit of a trend in some of the language that has been approved for a few different reasons. One of the biggest changes that has come about recently, and it’s more prevalent in policies now, even though it has been lingering around for a while, is what’s called this Wind Created Opening Provision or Apparel Created Opening. And what happens under that provision is it typically says we do not cover interior damage resulting from rain or wind-driven rain unless there is an opening in the building and the building could mean windows or roofs or building envelope, but just, it depends on the policy language. But they won’t cover the interior damage unless there’s first an opening that’s created. I’ve seen policies that actually say the opening has to be permanent.

So there’s all these little tricks that are in these provisions and they’re really important for one major reason. The major reason is, switches the burden to the insured to prove certain things. Under a standard, you know, most standard exclusions, the insurance company has the burden to show that this loss was excluded. But when you have exceptions to exclusions, meaning we won’t pay for this and unless X, Y, and Z happens, that language shifts the burden to the insured to prove something. Right. So if you get a claim in and it’s a hurricane claim and there is a provision that says, “We don’t cover the interior unless there’s a wind created opening,” you better have some evidence of a wind created opening. And that really starts with the consultants and the experts because if the condition of the property changes or the insured makes repairs and there’s no photographs or videos, that can really prejudice the ability to recover. And you know, unfortunately, insurance companies have and continue to win in court on this issue. And you know, they’re winning dispositive motions, they’re winning trials. And if that happens, there’s the insured will have no ability to recover. So these provisions are scattered and you know, the residential and the commercial and all the policies. So it’s very important to recognize those and identify them very quickly because if you don’t, it may be too late.

Derek: But now okay, so I’m a homeowner. I have water coming into my home. I can’t see the sky through my roof, so there’s no massive opening. But how did the water get in? I mean, isn’t a common sense, I mean, how could this water travel through a building by osmosis? Isn’t that enough that I had a leak inside to say this, the insurance company, how could the water get in? Obviously, there’s an opening somewhere. I mean, I don’t know where it is, but there’s an opening and I’m covered, right? Is this not the case? Is it not enough?

Gina: It’s magic. It just comes in through magic. You know?

Derek: It doesn’t make sense to me.

Gina: Unfortunately, that’s not enough. And the reason being when you have that more limiting language is, as I said, you have to show that there was some type of opening. It may not have to be permanent. It could be a temporary opening that occurred during a wind event or a wind storm. Whereas typically if you do have water coming into your house and it’s coming through because maybe your window is old and, you know, it’s kind of subject to deterioration and water came in, that may be covered under certain provisions as an ensuing law to the wear and tear. But if you have this more limiting provision, it’s not gonna be enough. And I agreed, it is common sense, the water had to come from somewhere. I had a hurricane, there was wind, water came in. But what you’re seeing is the insurance companies raising, you know, the failure to maintain the wear and tear, the old age, as the reason the water came in, not the wind allowing the water to come in. So that’s the difference.

Derek: Even more reason for a homeowner, let’s say, or a building owner, you know, before something happens on an annual basis to have an independent company inspect the property, document the condition so that they set a baseline. For example, doing a moisture scan on a roof so that you know, God forbid you have a hurricane, you have water get into the roof, the insurance company could say, “Well, you didn’t maintain it. How do we know the water wasn’t there a year ago?” And if you’ve got that proof, then I would think that’s something that would be very valuable to you as a property owner.

Gina: Oh, absolutely. I mean, normally you don’t have that type of proof. A lot of the buildings you see will have their 40-year certifications and those are often very helpful because of the process that the buildings have to go through and to document its condition. But if you own a lot of property and you have a huge risk to hurricane damage, you know, as part of your risk management program, it’s not that expensive to have a drone photo taken of the roof or that. And you know, most of the drones now can do the infrared right from the drone. So it’s saving the man-hour time of actually someone climbing up on the roof with an infrared camera. It’s an easy thing to do.

Derek: I often assimilate, you know, somebody maintain their property or their roofs to go into the dentist. We hate doing it, you don’t wanna go until there’s pain, right? And the pain is severe. So do you want a little bit of pain, clean your teeth now, or do you want a whole lot of heartache and pain later on where, you know, this affects your business and your life, especially with the way policies are written now? I mean, I think, you know, if property owners that own multiple buildings have a relationship with someone like you or GCI that’s already in the corner and checking out the building every two years, I mean it seems like after a storm you’d just be able to flip a switch. And any piece of paper they ask you for, you can provide very quickly and very accurately. And you know, what a lot of people don’t understand is that an insurance policy that they simply buy and throw in the bottom drawer is a contract that says it’s an insurance contract and you have obligations.

And I think there’s a misunderstanding or a discounting of what that actually means, a contract that they will enforce is, you know, it’s something that one needs to be aware of and be able to comply with very quickly. So with that said, I wanted to ask you something else that I’ve run across. And that’s the matching statute in policies which, for our listeners, matching statute means if my roof is damaged or my floor is damaged and that product is no longer available in certain policies, the insurance company is liable to pay for the replacement of the entire home or what have you because it cannot be matched and it’ll look like a checkerboard. Is that something that, you know, folks still can expect to happen or insurance companies both on commercial and residential claims is gonna be fighting these as well? I mean, what are you seeing out there?

Gina: As far as the residential, there is a statute that is commonly referred to as the matching statute. And as far as the residential, typically, you know, they might fight it because there’s other things that come into play as well because they’re gonna be arguing what percentage of the roof and one of the tiles can be painted, whether they can be found in the boneyard, whether they’re operating under an approved NOAA weather code comes involved, so it’s not ever gonna be very clean cut and then you have issues. Maybe not even the roof, but interior flooring, whether there’s a threshold, whether it’s aesthetic. I mean, there are certain policies now where for a while there, there was a lot of litigation overmatching of the interior tile floor. And a lot of policies have inserted limitations now saying that if the damage to the floor is purely aesthetic, we’re only gonna pay $10,000. So if it’s an aesthetic issue versus an actual functionality of the flooring system, there’s gonna be a huge debate over that, which again is where the experts and consultants come into play. Because if the usefulness and the purpose of the floor is somehow impacted by the loss, that’s not just aesthetic. So those are permissions that you need to look for in the policy. I mean, for the most part, I’ve seen those aesthetic provisions linked to flooring, but I can’t tell you whether there’s not ones out there that are also linked to roofing systems. So it definitely has something…

Derek: I know there are. I know there are. I had a situation in Texas which, you know, because in Texas we know hail is pretty prevalent everywhere, and in the San Antonio, Dallas area there’s a tremendous amount of hail and insurance companies got beat up pretty bad. And what happened was with all these metal roofing systems and what a lot of these property owners were unaware of is that there was a cosmetic exclusion in there which basically said if baseball hit your roof, baseball size hail hit your roof and it’s dented everywhere but the damage is only cosmetic, then we’re not gonna pay for the replacement. So I mean, your roof probably look terrible now. And if somebody was gonna come and buy your building or buy your home, they’re gonna ask for a huge discount because your home looks terrible and yet insurance companies are standing on the fact that a lot of these folks that were unaware of these cosmetic writers or exclusions in the policy were now basically left out in the field. And that’s very scary. I mean, metal roofs are very expensive. So I certainly think having evaluated hundreds of rooms that a metal roof that’s dented now is gonna hold residue after a storm because now all the water’s not gonna be able to drain off of that. Yes, it may not be directly damaged right now, but five years from now, you know, the corrosion, the surfacing of that roof may have been impacted and it may start rusting and now I have to pay out-of-pocket to have it replaced. So I know that’s a tough one for Texans to swallow, but it’s all about, you know, knowledge is power and it’s being aware of what’s in your policy.

Gina: No, absolutely. You know, I was looking at a client’s policy the other day for a specific issue, but as I was looking at it, it was a new renewal policy. I see in like, you know, this little corner of the policy that they exclude wind-driven rain. And you know, it boggles my mind, you think you’re buying a policy for hurricane coverage and, you know, interior water damage. And it may cover it, but to have those little exclusions hidden throughout the policy, you know, one of the things I always say is what you don’t know can hurt you because it is unbelievable the things that are in the policy and I bet everyone listening, most people don’t have any idea what their policy says. They don’t read it.

Derek: And also what happens is you get…like if you, for example, if you would farmers or all state or state farm or what have you, the year that you buy the policy, you get a full copy of the policy. Each, and correct me if I’m wrong because you may be the expert on this, each year I renew it, all I get are some basic pages and I don’t even know what’s being taken out or put in that policy. I mean, what kind of a deal is that? I don’t even know what it’s in my policy, yet I think it’s the same as the one I have in my drawer and it might be completely different. Is that the case?

Gina: Well, typically you’re gonna have the standard form and then once a year you’ll get whatever applicable endorsements or changes to the policies. On my last renewal, I got an endorsement to make sure the carrier knew that marsupial damage was no longer covered under my policy, which you know, just made me laugh because of the detail that they go into on these exclusions. But you can always ask for ask your agent or you can ask the insurance company for, you know, you prefer to get a certified copy. That way you know that it’s a full and complete version. Citizen is very good about giving certified copies. Other carriers, you know, kind of argue whether it has to be certified or not. But you know, it’s always a good idea before hurricane season hits to make sure you have a full copy of your policy and do it soon because if there’s any issues that you didn’t have time to address them with your agent.

Derek: So, yeah. You, so you got a note saying Marsupials were no longer covered, so you know that if a kangaroo jumps onto your roof, you don’t have coverage, right?

Gina: There’s no coverage for kangaroos. Yeah. Yeah.

Derek: Shoot, I mean that’s an important one to have I guess in Australia but maybe not here.

Gina: Yeah. I’m really glad they clarify that for me, so

Derek: Any other points you want to make? I mean, I think we’ve covered a lot. I think, you know, we’ve some real valid points for the listeners out there, how important it is to have, you know, a plan ahead of time so that you limit the stress and the anxiety later on. I know one other thing that has changed and I think maybe you can expand on this a little bit before we wrap it up, but appraisal is there. So I’m having a struggle with my insurance company. What are my options? Like what’s option A, B, and C and how has that changed over the past few years in your experience?

Gina: Yeah, and for those who are listening who don’t know what appraisal is, appraisal is an alternative dispute resolution process that is kind of specific to property insurance policies. And in the event that the insurance company and the insured don’t agree on the amount or the scope of the loss, each party selects an appraiser. They tried to agree on the amount of the loss. If they can’t, they appoint a third person called the umpire. And the decision of any two is binding. I mean, there’s a lot more to that, you know, depending on the facts of the case and what jurisdiction you’re in and everything. But essentially, that’s how it works, kind of an alternative dispute resolution process. Appraisal used to be pretty big and for a while a lot of carriers were getting hit what they believed to be pretty hard in the appraisal process, so they backed away from it a little bit.

Now, it’s back. It’s coming back now. You know, I just saw an article and I don’t know if it was a Sun-Sentinel or The Palm Beach Post talking about how Citizens is offering to cover certain costs of the appraisal to get claims resolved, where typically the insured has the obligation to pay their appraiser and half of the umpire. So it could be an option depending on the case. It’s typically a lot faster than litigation. It’s a little bit less of a headache because you don’t have to be involved with depositions and discovery in court, but the decision of two people is binding unless there’s some type of extraordinary circumstances, which normally are fraud or, you know, some type of misrepresentation, it’s hard to overturn an appraisal award.

You know, when I’m seeing a lot of in the larger-layered policy, which are typically, you know, people who have Lloyd policy developers who have master policies in many properties under it, there’s a lot of arbitration provisions. A lot of times, those arbitration provisions could potentially preclude your ability to file a lawsuit. It just obviously depends on the policy language, how it’s written. But if you don’t know that and you think you have the ability to file suit and maybe there’s an argument that you don’t, that’s quite a huge surprise to any property owner.

Derek: Well, that tells me that they need someone like you to make sure they know what their options are and what the consequences of each are before they make that decision. I mean, making an educated decision versus a knee-jerk decision sounds like a pretty vital thing to be able to do. And having you in their corner would make a difference real quick. So after appraisal, I got a good settlement. I mean, and you know, we spoke a little bit about ordinance and law. Do I just expect the check for all these different coverages immediately? Can the carrier hold back any depreciation for any part of this or do I get, for example, if the payment is split between, you know, coverage A and then ordinance and law, can they hold anything back? Am I gonna be required to have completed the work as it would be, you know, in a normal claim recovery or how does that process work?

Gina: For the appraisal award, payment of the appraisal award, the timing is gonna be governed by the policy. The policy has a lost payment provision which says, “We’ll issue payment within so many days after the filing of an appraisal award with us.” It’s normally somewhere between 30 and 90 days. Depending on the policy, as far as the ordinance and law coverage, most policies do require that that be incurred or that the repairs are being made. So, you know, often, and I can’t say that this is all the time or all carriers do it, but sometimes an insurance company will just pay the whole appraisal award to be done with the claim or to try to get a release to give some consideration for the insurer to release the entire claim. Other time, they want the documentation of incurred expenses or they wanna see that the repairs have been made. It really is gonna depend on the policy. It’s gonna depend on the carrier.

What is interesting that the law did clarify in the recent years is that an appraisal award is sufficient evidence of the amount of loss to allow an insurer to file a bad faith lawsuit, which you know, the bad faith lawsuit is for extra-contractual damages that may not be covered under the policy. So it used to be that the theories were you had to go to trial and get essentially a judgment or you had to get a judgment through the court system. But the case law has clarified that significantly to say that an appraisal award is enough. So carriers are often hesitant to go to appraisal because of the threat of bad faith. So in the event that there are damages such as, you know, law and ordinance damages that could potentially be outstanding, sometimes carriers may be motivated to resolve it so they can wrap up everything and know that there’s not a bad faith lawsuit coming.

Derek: So the property owner can file suit even after appraisal for bad faith if they feel they’ve been treated unfairly.

Gina: Yes, as long as they…I mean, a prerequisite to any extra-contractual lawsuit is the filing of a civil remedy notice which a civil remedy notice is a statutorily created document. It essentially puts the carrier on notice of what they did to act in bad faith. And there’s categories of statute sets out. And then the insurance company has a certain amount of time to cure those allegations. If you don’t file the CRN, you absolutely do not have a right to the bad faith lawsuit. It’s a statutory prerequisite that you wanna make sure it’s done. But generally speaking, yes, the appraisal award is gonna be a sufficient award, sufficient document to allow you to proceed further if necessary.

Derek: Yeah. Right. Is there anything else you wanna bring up before we wrap up or I think, I mean we’ve discussed quite a bit. That’s been some great information for the listeners. Anything else you feel we need to know and that, you know, would help us down the road? And you know, a lot of people, I know of tons and tons of homeowners and property owners that are still waiting for their first dollar after Irma. Can they still call you? I mean, are they done? Can they hire you now or how does that process work and how do they get in touch with you?

Gina: No, absolutely. The time’s not out to file the hurricane claims at this point. You do have certain notice provisions under your policy. So if you have not filed a claim for whatever reason, it’s really important to figure out what your damages are and get that filed as soon as possible. Generally speaking, you know, you have to give notice promptly, but the statute of limitations does not run out on the hurricane claims. And there’s a lot. And I have a lot of claims, especially the larger commercial ones that are still being adjusted by the insurance company. And I think a lot of that has to do with the volume of claims and the amount of hurricanes we’ve had over the last couple of years. It’s been a stress on the industry for sure. But depending on your policy, you likely can file a lawsuit or demand appraisal or arbitration or mediation.

There’s a lot of different ways to resolve a claim. It’s just, you know, it may not always be a rush to litigation or to file suit. It really depends on the insured and what they need to get their life or their business back in order. For some people it’s, let me just get paid and move on. Some people wanna go all the way and have their day at trial. But there are a lot of options to get things resolved. But if you think that you know what you’re getting from the insurance company isn’t sufficient, I absolutely recommend talking to a professional to see if there’s anything that can be done.

Derek: Yeah. Then they should just give you a call. How do they, should they email you? What number or how do they reach Berger Singerman and how do they get to you?

Gina: Well, my direct line is 561-893-8711, that’s 561-893-8711. You know, we have offices in Boca, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Tallahassee.

Derek: Fantastic. Yeah. And I know I think you may be presenting again at the Windstorm Conference coming up in Orlando at the end of January, which I’m looking forward to. I know there’s gonna be a lot of good information and experts on hand there, you know, in our industry. So with that said, you know, thanks so much for being with us today and sharing your experience and vital information with our listeners. For you folks out there, thanks so much for joining Gina and myself today. Please visit us on the web at and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and be sure to check out some of our cool videos and where you’ll actually see us in action doing some forensic testing on windows, doors, and roofing. And we’ll definitely bring you, you know, valuable information in the future. Just stay tuned and thanks so much for joining us today and thank you, Gina, for being a part of “Everything Building Envelope” podcast today.

Gina: You’re welcome. Thanks again for having me.

Roofing and the Wet Suit Waterproofing Membrane System

Matt Leslie – Poseidon Sales

  • About Matt Leslie & the Roofing Industry
  • Wet Suit Membrane & its many uses
  • About Neptune Coatings
  • Wet Suit Durability
  • Building Envelope Applications

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

*** Subscribe to the show and leave us a Review on ITunes!

Derek: Welcome to the “Everything Building Envelope” podcast. I’m Derek Segal, and I’m a building envelope consultant with GCI. We’ve got a very special guest today. Matt Leslie is joining us. Welcome, Matt.

Matt: Thank you, Derek. It’s good to be here.

Derek: Excellent. I think you’re gonna get a lot out of today’s podcast. It’s gonna be exciting. Matt’s got an innovative, excellent product to talk about. And before we get started with that, Matt, would you tell us a little bit about how you came to be where you’re at today in the industry and your journey, you know, to get to this point.

Matt: Sure. Sure. Of course, that’s a 40-year journey, which I’ll do my best to cut down into a few seconds. But it started long ago in the mid-’50s when my father was in the business. And so I grew up in the family, in the industry. And then in the early days, I was in the supply end of the roofing industry. Was in that for several years, 15, 16 years and then transitioned into the contracting end and I’ve been doing that for as many years since. A couple of years ago, I became aware and familiar with this product we’re gonna talk about today by the name of WetSuit that has led my partner and I to opening up Poseidon Sales and we’ve kind of carried the torch of WetSuit in promoting its benefits and uses around the country.

Derek: That sounds really good. I must say, for those of you that don’t know my background, having been in the roofing end of the industry since 1992, you know, new products and new technologies is always an exciting attribute. And we’re always looking for, you know, something just a little bit better, especially given the way the weather has been over the last few years and the intensity of storms. So with that said, and I am holding a sample of the product, WetSuit, real interesting name. It brings to mind scuba diving, swimming in the ocean. Any info on how the name came about? Was the guy in the diving industry or how did the name come to be WetSuit?

Matt: Yeah. That’s a good question. I don’t have an answer for that particular origination of the name. But it’s an interesting story in that the gentleman and creator and founder of this product and company, Neptune Coatings, the manufacturer of WetSuit, he was already retired, chemist by profession and had already retired, and was continually hearing from his friends during his weekly golf outings that they were having trouble keeping their balconies watertight over the long term. And he finally got tired of, you know, hearing their complaints. He said, “Guys, give me a few weeks. Let me see if we can create something for you.” And frankly, out of his garage, was born the product WetSuit. So not so much aware of where the name came from, but the story behind the product is amazing. And he literally produced the product for several years out of his garage for his buddies.

Derek: Garage?

Matt: Yeah.

Derek: Wow, that’s amazing.

Matt: Yep.

Derek: So yeah, I spoke a little bit about weather ability and I think, you know, all of us can agree that over the past two years, I mean, we had… I think we started off with Harvey that hit Texas. We went from there to Maria that, you know, impacted Puerto Rico. We then got Irma that pretty much impacted the entire state of Florida. And then Michael, obviously, really created some serious damage up in the panhandle of Florida. And I think we can all agree that, you know, the intensity, the duration of these things, the amount of rainfall has just been astronomical. I mean, we’re looking for a product that can stand up to nature’s fury which seems to be kind of always on the increase. How is this product different to other products and how is this gonna give me more peace of mind and a property owner the peace of mind, you know, during these weather phenomenon that happen, to know that his building is in good shape and he has nothing to worry about?

Matt: Well, it’s interesting because the storms have actually created an opportunity for WetSuit. WetSuit, when it was created in 2001, it was created as a long-term solution for a total building envelope, waterproofing, and roofing solution. The product can be used from below grade to roofing and everything in between, but it was created as a long-term solution. But as a result of the storms and some problems that are inherent with the storms and their damage and then the repair that’s subsequent to that, we’re finding that as an example, high wind event might just pull off a portion of a roof. Maybe just a corner of a couple of hundred square feet, but conventional methods have somebody run out there and drop a blue tarp over the entire roof area, which typically is several thousand square feet and, of course, it’s costly to cover such a long area.

They’re penetrating the good roof with several hundred nails to hold the tarp in place, and then the tarps are not resistant to ultraviolet rays and strong winds and they end up getting blown off, you know, after the initial fix and then they’re back up there doing the same thing again. Where with WetSuit, we’re finding that the contractors can go in and spray just the affected area, which might be a couple of hundred square feet, not a couple thousand, they can get in, get out quick, make the building watertight. The product adhesion properties are above and beyond anything in the business. I mean, the downside to WetSuit is once it gets on something it stays there. But for wind events, that’s a good thing. So they can run in and fix a smaller area, do it much faster and the product is UV stable over the long period of time. In laboratory testing, we’ve shown no degradation from ultraviolet rays over a period of as much as 35 years.

Derek: That’s impressive.

Matt: Yeah, it really is a remarkable material.

Derek: So with storms, you know, obviously you mentioned one type of storm, which is a high wind event. Obviously, the other catastrophic-type events that we’ve been seeing a lot more of, especially out west in Colorado, and usually we see that around Texas and Oklahoma and Kansas. But we’ve been seeing more and more of it. I think Colorado, Denver got hit two or three times over the last year by massive hail. Is this something that will, you know, be able to absorb these large hailstones, these hard structural hailstones? Is this something that WetSuit can stand up to and resist?

Matt: There’s a multitude of physical properties with WetSuit that put it above and beyond anything in the business and, of course, we’ve been through every test requirement by either ASTM or Factory Mutual. Specifically to your question about hail, we’ve passed Factory Mutual’s most severe hail test with no impact at all. It’s an extremely durable, flexible material. And like I said, resistant to, you know, the effects of sun over the long term. These hailstorms create a huge problem in the roofing industry and, frankly, WetSuit is completely unaffected by these things.

Derek: Fantastic. So, okay, now that we found out, you know, some of the positive benefits, I mean, is this thing… I mean, how do we put this down? Does it come in rolls? Do we have to get a crane to lift these rolls up onto the roof? I mean, being that it’s such an innovative product I would think it’s got to be unique in the way that this thing goes on. And it’s got to be, you know, better and easier to install. Is that the case or do I now have to hire, you know, double the labor or how am I going to put this product on the roof?

Matt: Well, they continue to say how amazing the material is or what a phenomenal product it is. It goes so far beyond just the product itself. The process, the logistics required in the application, this material, the crew size and the skill set required have been significantly reduced or minimized or made more efficient. Not necessarily by design, it just evolved that way over the last 18 years. But specifically with your first question about the process of application, it’s a spray application. There’s specialized equipment that’s not very expensive, just specialized because of the pressures that are required, which are very minimal, by the way, which is unusual for a spray application. But it’s a spray application, it’s extremely fast in its application, but your typical roof assembly is going to consist any more of a single-ply membrane that’s approximately 60 mils thick.

Now, they’ll vary by a little bit, by five mils, plus or minus, but basically your 60 mil thickness in a membrane is your most popular solution. WetSuit goes down in a single-pass spray application in a 60 mil application. So we have some continuity there with what the market is accustomed to, but WetSuit, because it’s a spray application, is seamless. And over my years in the business, I have found, you know, roofs will fail and leak at certain conditions, whether it’s a rooftop piece of equipment, or a transition from roof to wall or conditions like that, similar to that. However, what the common denominator in all of those conditions is the seam and it’s the seam that fails, not the membrane itself. And so by virtue of the fact that WetSuit is a seamless membrane at 60 mils, we’ve eliminated the fail point. And so now all of a sudden there is no fail point in the roof.

Derek: Right. That’s very beneficial. I gotta tell you, you know, being that I’ve been on, you know, hundreds and hundreds of roofs, what I’m seeing more of now and that you make a good point is that in a lot of cases, you know, now that the world is so technologically advanced, there is more equipment up on the roof buildings typically, we’re building up more and not out because we’re running out of space. And so really you have only one place to put all your building system equipment and that’s up on top of the roof, and I know I’ve been involved in some roof projects where it’s an absolute nightmare. You’ve got, you know, 300, 400, 500 roof penetrations, you’ve got cellular equipment, internet equipment and…

Matt: Yep, they’re a mess.

Derek: That becomes a real issue because if you’ve got a leak around a pipe that’s coming through the roof and you’ve got, you know, sensitive equipment downstairs, that’s a nightmare you want to try and avoid. I definitely get that.

Matt: Yep, and that brings to mind a project that we recently completed or at least one of our contractors recently completed in Orlando. It was a pedestrian deck. So it was a… Basically, I like to refer to it as party central in an apartment complex. And so they had five different planters and they were full planters. They were false planters that had a steel grate over the top that they put their artificial turf on and some other architectural features, but the support to that steel grade was a two-inch square leg. Well, in five planters we had 300 penetrations in about 1,500 square feet.
Now, that’s just a ridiculous amount of penetrations in any roof system.

And, of course, the fact that it’s, the application of WetSuit was seamless on a square product which, you know, the people that aren’t in the roofing industry don’t understand the difficulty of getting that watertight and keeping it watertight, especially with all the structural movement that’s going to take place in any structure of any height. So not only is it seamless but because of the elasticity and the elongation of the material, which is, by the way, 2,000% elongation, the movement is irrelevant, it’s of no impact to the WetSuit product. But for the construction industry, here’s the single strongest benefit, is those 300 penetrations would take, oh, probably 20 or 30 minutes each penetration and 100 to 125 man hours and those 300 penetrations will complete in five hours.

Derek: Wow, that’s huge, because I don’t really understand that.

Matt: Tremendous efficiency in the application process, it’s seamless so we’ve eliminated the fail point, the elongation, just kind of laughs at any structural movement. And then also, you asked or kind of touched on a moment ago, Derek, about the issues of logistics and machinery. This product, it can be sprayed through up to 500 feet of hose and it can be sprayed vertically up 100 feet. So as long as we’re working on, let’s say, a 10-story building or less, we’ve got one very small staging area down on the ground, we haul one hose up with one spray gun and we get anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 square feet of surface area sprayed and waterproofed in a day’s work with just a three-man crew as compared to about a 10-man crew with your conventional methods.

Derek: You’d never get 15,000 square foot done in a day anyway on a normal roof, there’s no way.

Matt: If there’s any penetrations at all, absolutely impossible. Maybe a third of that. It’s not really a fun fact, but I’d like you to make it that way. This is a water-based material that’s spray applied and it cures to a rubber membrane in three seconds. So here’s another benefit to the tradesmen. Typically, they’re looking at a weather forecast and early in the morning there might be a forecast, especially in the South Florida market where we know we can almost set our clocks by the afternoon rain. They know that there’s a potential storm coming through and they’re very nervous about whether they send the crews or not, and then what type of work the crews do and how they expose the building to a re-roofing element. Well, frankly, with WetSuit curing in three seconds, this is fact that we can spray WetSuit right up to the moment of rain and have no re-emulsification, have no runoff and what we’ve touched is watertight the instant it’s sprayed. Again, that’s just a fun fact that three-second cure of a water-based material, but man, it provides unbelievable protection.

Derek: Okay, I’m sold. I wanna ask you one real important question for me. We’ve all heard over the last year, two years, global warming, some people think it’s fake, whatever. But I’ll tell you one thing that is a fact and that the oceans are filling up with plastics, single-use plastic, the landfills are filling up. I mean, there’s some stuff we just can’t deny. And for me, you know, the environmental impact is really critical to us and the future generations. Will this product help to protect the Earth and how will me choosing WetSuit help the environment and change the path that we seem to be on, you know, if we continue to use single-use plastic and throw debris and old roofing systems into our landfills? Tell me what benefits they will be to the long-term environmental well being.

Matt: And boy, that’s a huge problem. The amount of debris and tonnage that goes into our landfills from old roofs that have to be torn off and taken to the dump is mind-boggling. It’s billions of pounds every year. And there are occasions when because of the existence of trap moisture in an existing roof system, that there is no option but to remove what’s there, it’s just good roofing practice. However, most cases, the roof does not need to be removed. However, building code throughout the country says that you can only put two roof systems on any building and that’s really more of a weight fact. So if we get into a situation where there’s two existing roofs, the industry nationwide says get rid of everything that’s there and go fill that landfill.

With WetSuit, because it’s a liquid applied product, 6 ounces per square foot at 60 mils, because it’s considered by the building departments as a maintenance item, not a roof system, although it performs better than every other roof system, it’s not considered a roof system. That requirement of tearing two roofs off is not necessary with the application of WetSuit. So we’re going to have a huge impact, reducing the impact on landfills because of the amount of tear off that’s not required. So not only is it a landfill benefit, but this product has zero VOCs. For those listening that maybe don’t know what VOC stands for, that’s volatile organic compound, and that means fumes. There are no fumes coming off of this product. It’s a water-based material.

Derek: Yeah, we’ve both stood around. In fact, I drive down the street and I can smell a roof going on, you know, a mile away.

Matt: Yeah, for sure.

Derek: I mean there’s carcinogenic fumes going into the air, there’s a…

Matt: Here’s a scenario that happens, more often than not is, they’re working on a roof on a hospital and somebody forgets to turn off the intake and the glues that they use for some of the systems have a tremendous amount of a VOCs, volatile organic compounds, and they have a problem inside the entire hospital because of these VOCs. So this happens. Well, that’s a non-factor again, with WetSuit. Now, not only is it healthy from the standpoint of VOCs, this product has been approved as a tank liner for drinkable water. So it is of no consequence to the people working with it. It is of no consequence to the inhabitants of a building that’s getting the product applied to it, has a monster impact on our environment and the people that live in that environment.

Derek: Well, sounds like this is the product of today and the future. I mean, because we really… I must tell you I was recently up in the panhandle and I literally saw buildings and roofing systems that peeled off like a sardine can. The way these storms are going and might I add Irma and Harvey, Harvey was more than 52, 53 inches of rain in Houston. We’ve got to come up with better products and there’s a lot more being thrown at us and we need to be ready to defend ourselves. And I mean, the roof, as far as I’m concerned, is probably the most important building component out there because it protects everything from the top down. You know, most often people are more attuned to putting a fresh coat of paint on a building or putting some new plants and flowers around a building, and a roof is really not something they can see. So it’s out of sight, out of mind.

Matt: That’s so true.

Derek: Having seen Panama City and Panama City Beach, one really grasps the importance of a product that can withstand even a Cat 3, Cat 4 storm, because really everything depends on just how good that product is. So with that said, I mean, I’m gonna go run out right now pick up a bucket myself. I mean, can I just go to Home Depot? I need some of this stuff.

Matt: Well, no. You can’t buy it off the shelf and here’s the reason why. We, Neptune Coatings and Poseidon Sales are committed to high quality, finished, installed assembly. And as a result of that, we are very tough on our contractors in the training process, in the warranty protocol process and just the entire process of applying the material. Not because it’s difficult, but because it’s so important to just do things the right way. So we’re pretty dogmatic about what we require as far as training, education, proper quality control. So no, you can’t just buy it off the shelf. So there’s some benefit there, but I did want to address also your comment about, you know, the storms and the wind events.

We have, as I mentioned before, the amount of testing that Neptune Coatings has done through ASTM and Factory Mutual is substantial to say the least. One of those series and batteries of testing has to do with wind resistance performance. And another fun fact about WetSuit, one of those tests was with the WetSuit material applied directly to concrete. Now Factory Mutual’s equipment has a certain capacity, they can measure up to a certain point and then the equipment just can’t measure any more than that. In the testing of WetSuit’s adhesion on concrete, we couldn’t reach failure. In fact, we took the testing up to Factory Mutual’s capacity. Didn’t reach failure. And so FM says, “Hey, you’re good to a 1-990 rating.”

Derek: What does that mean?

Matt: Well, and that’s where I was headed. I don’t really know exactly what it means. But here’s what I do know. Back in the day, when we started measuring things under this, you know, this 1-something standard, we started with a 1-90, and the industry kind of accepted that to mean that that would be good for a Category 1 hurricane of 90 miles an hour. Now, that’s not the exact science behind it. And I like to say this, I’m not really a propeller head so I don’t get into the scientific side of this. I trust those that do know what they’re doing and I trust their conclusions. But we’re now designing systems to about a 1-150, maybe a 1-180.

Derek: But yours is 900?

Matt: Nine ninety.

Derek: That’s crazy.

Matt: And did not reach failure.

Derek: So that’s nine times the design strength.

Matt: Pretty much. Pretty much.

Derek: The industry standard.

Matt: And here’s another thing on that same subject. When it comes to roof failure by wind event, in other words, a blow off…

Derek: Mm-hmm.

Matt: Most of the time it’s not the roof membrane, that’s the problem. It’s the edge of the roof that has a piece of sheet metal and that piece of sheet metal has an edge to it, has a face to it and there’s a gap between the metal and the building. And that little tiny gap when the wind is whipping around there at about 120 miles an hour, that wind grabs that edge of metal and that’s the weak point of the roof and it peels it off from that point.

Derek: How is it different with WetSuit? [inaudible 00:23:44] I was just about to ask.

Matt: WetSuit is a self-flashing, self-terminating material and system. It can, if the architectural and design community will accept it, it can eliminate 100% of the sheet metal requirements in the construction of a roof. Without the sheet metal edge for the wind to grab, the wind will have… Not only does it have unbelievable adhesion to surfaces and substrates, but it allows us to produce a finished product that the wind has nothing to grab.

Derek: Well. it sounds like you guys have thought of everything. That’s kind of the way I started the podcast was just prefacing the podcast by saying that it was gonna be interesting and exciting and really, you know, blow the minds of a lot of people out there that, you know, are used to the same old same-same old, and the same challenges and stresses that come, you know, with roofs. I think at the end of the day… I mean, what we all want and what I want, is I would want as a building owner is one thing, peace of mind.

And that comes with, you know, knowing that storm is coming and knowing that you’ve done everything you need to do and you have the best product possible, especially given the fact that, you know, during Irma and Michael and Maria and Harvey, I mean, we as property owners, we all think we put our insurance policy in our drawer, we’re covered. You know, no matter what happens, I think it’s been painful for a lot of property owners to learn that you really only find out if you’re covered after something happens. I mean, you might think you’re covered, but there are a lot of trap doors in that contract of insurance that’s sitting in your drawer and if there’s anything better.

Yeah, that property owners can do above and beyond, and this system may even save them money because from what you say, I mean, goes on quicker, it doesn’t require as much manpower, you know, I can’t see why, you know, someone wouldn’t want to get some more information to find out about this. But I just wanted to say that this has been one of my best podcasts ever, [inaudible 00:25:50] called WetSuit. I encourage you folks to find out more about it and see if it’s something you’d be interested in finding out for your property.

Well, folks, I think you can all agree that I said at the beginning of the podcast, this was gonna be fantastic and really interesting. And I hope that you got a lot out of this, as much as I did. I’d like to thank Matt for being on with us. Matt, do you have any final thoughts or information you want to give to our listeners?

Matt: In closing, I’d like to tell a quick story. Of course, I’ve introduced this test data and product data around the country to dozens of designers and architects and engineers, consultants. I’ve asked them consistently to dig into the test data and share with me what they think the, if, in fact, there’s weaknesses. We’ve certainly not talked about any weaknesses today, and I’ve asked that they share weaknesses. And so far, they’ve all come back with a denial meaning that they couldn’t find anything.

I did have one humorous response from a consultant. Oh, gosh, about a year ago, he said, “You know, we really couldn’t find any weaknesses or any weak links in this product or its application and so forth.” But he said, and he said, very sincerely said, “But I would give you one piece of advice.” I said, “Well, what’s that advice?” And he said, “Don’t tell everybody the whole story because it’s too good to be true.” And I couldn’t help but chuckle. I said, “Well, I’m sorry, Sean, but I’m going to have to tell the whole story because number one, it’s my nature and number two, we expect to probably change the entire market because of it.”

Derek: Wow, that’s amazing. That sums it all up. And again, you know, I think this was a great podcast. Now, Matt, how do people get in touch with you?

Matt: Well, they should call me personally. My phone number is (561) 870-2259, or they can study some of the product data on our website which, of course, is

Derek: Fantastic. Thanks, that sounds great. Thanks to all of you, our valued listeners, our most important resource and please, you know, join us again for these informative podcasts. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and check out our fantastic website and cool videos that you can find on And once again, this is Derek Segal with GCI consultants. Thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to bringing you a bunch more fantastic, innovative and interesting podcasts. Thanks.

FAPIA, Hurricanes & Insurance Claims

Jimmy Farach – President of FAPIA

  • About Jimmy Farach of FAPIA
  • What are some of the differences you see between the 0/4 0/5 hurricanes and Irma related to the way the claims process is going?
  • What types of damages are you seeing from Irma vs the storms of the 04 and 05 seasons?
  • Do you feel the involvement of a claim advocate such as yourself makes a difference in the way a claim is handled and the result?
  • How have you changed the way you approach claims, assess damages and investigate the loss for Irma?
  • If there were 3 or 4 critical points you could stress to a property owner now after Irma or for any future storm such as Irma, what would those be?
  • Do you see any differences in changes in weather patterns and storms over the past 10 years or so?

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

*** Subscribe to the show and leave us a Review on ITunes!

Derek: Welcome to GCI’s podcast today with “Everything Building Envelope.” I’ll be your host today. My name is Derek Segal. I’m a building envelope consultant. My special guest today is Jimmy Farach. Jimmy is a public insurance adjuster and also current president of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. Welcome, Jimmy.

Jimmy: Thank you so much, Derek. Good afternoon.

Derek: Glad to have you. I think for our guests, Jimmy, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey along the way to becoming who you are today and the president of the association?

Jimmy: Thank you again for having me. Yeah, my career in the insurance plans business started a bit after Hurricane Andrew, back in 1992. I was studying construction management in Florida International University in Miami, Florida. And I got to meet an independent adjuster in one of my courses. And I was introduced to what I do today and been doing for the last 25 years or so, which is negotiating and documenting property claims. So it was a nice foundation to have the construction management background and general contracting background. My father’s an architect so I’ve been around building construction since I was born.

And a little bit later down in my career, in 1999, 2000, I secured my public adjuster’s license here in Florida, and subsequently secured licenses in several other states around the country. And during that time, in 2008, Derek, I got interested in joining a committee for the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, and got more involved, and was asked to serve on the board. And it’s been a great experience in the last 10 years. And I just, as you had mentioned, been elected president. It’s an honor to be president and serve our public adjusters in Florida.

Derek: Excellent. That sounds really good, Jimmy. I got to tell you, I’m really excited about today because there’s a tremendous amount of good, valuable information, the questions that I have that I think will truly help people understand the business and what the challenges are today given, you know, the recent storms we’ve had. So with that said, I’m curious to find out, you know, what you think on the types of damages, you know, from perhaps the storm we had recently, Hurricane Irma, your seeing out there versus the ’04, ’05 seasons, I guess, the strongest storm we had, which was Hurricane Wilma in ’05. What types of damages differences are you seeing out there?

Jimmy: Well, yeah, a good question. So yeah, back in ’04, ’05, there was definitely 4 to 5 storms that hit Florida from different angles. Obviously, one from the West Coast, and then we had Hurricane Irma…I’m sorry, excuse me, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma and Jeanne and Frances. But the one thing that sticks out in my head right now from this storm and the difference is the slow process. Claims, seen and getting consultants down to the properties has been very slow, very sluggish. And I guess one of the reasons is the timing where, you know, just 3 weeks prior to Hurricane Irma on September 10th, as we all know, on August 17th, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and it was a very, very large storm. And as we saw on the news, Houston was flooded. It’s so terrible to hear what…you know, there was rescues and, you know, life and basically humans and pets that were endangered.

And then Irma hit three or four weeks after, followed by Hurricane Maria. So the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast in Florida were impacted. And I think one of the main things that is very relevant is Hurricane Irma affected the entire state of Florida. I mean, it was a massive storm, as we all saw on the news. It had made its path and basically clipped the Lower Keys, and then the west coast of Florida, basically covering the entire state from east to west, and from south to north. And it’s amazing how it went up to the Central, and I-4 corridor, and Orlando, Tampa, even in Jacksonville and Dayton Beach. So I think that’s one of the main points and one of the main differences that I see, the intensity of the storm. So what are you guys seeing as far as the difference at GCI?

Derek: Yeah. Obviously, we’re out there quite a bit, like yourself. I think, you know, one of the things that sticks out in my mind, difference-wise from the ’04, ’05 versus this year, or 2017 as well, which, you know, a lot of storms hit Texas as well, is that Irma was such a slow-moving storm. You know, Wilma and all the others were obviously stronger in intensity, but Irma was very impactful in the sense that it was such a prolonged event, in some periods it lasted up to 18, 19 hours of cyclical winds, torrential rain up to, you know, 15 to 20 inches of rain. And even though the winds weren’t as strong as of Wilma, we’re seeing a tremendous amount of damage out there just because of the duration of the storm and the geographical size of the storm. And so, in my mind, this was a much bigger event for the entire state than simply, you know, an isolated event. And the damage is a little more subtle, but there was definitely a lot of damage to windows, doors, roofing systems, and the entire building envelope that I’m seeing.

Talk a little bit about, you know, some of the way the claims are being handled. I know this is kind of a bias question, but do you feel your role as an advocate for a property owner or a property manager makes a difference in the way these claims are going? Or do you think they’re fine just handling these things on their own?

Jimmy: No, I think absolutely we make a difference. Again, policy holder advocates and protecting the consumer, and more importantly on these emergency claims such as a hurricane. And again, as licensed professionals, we’re there for the policyholder during these difficult times of putting together a very cumbersome claim, whether it’s commercial or residential, as far as other different coverages on their dwelling and then their respective inventories, or loss of use, or even on a commercial policy, you know, putting together the business income loss, or loss of rents. So absolutely, we make a difference and we…because the client or the policyholder, you know, after a difficult time, I mean, they’re taking care of, number one, their families, their businesses, in some cases their clients. And we, you know, as policyholder advocates, come in after to pick up the pieces and make them whole again and put it together, so that way the insurance company would make them whole on a loss that they suffered.

Derek: It’s obviously a pretty emotional time for all these people as well. I mean, I know I have been through it…

Jimmy: Absolutely.

Derek: [inaudible 00:07:13] myself. I mean, the last thing you’re thinking about is, “How do I evaluate the damage?” You’re happy to be alive, you’ve never been through something this traumatic, your home, which is your castle or your building, is damaged, and you feel like the rug’s been pulled out from under you. And I know from experience that it’s a very emotional and scary time. So to have someone like you or ourselves involved, just takes that pressure off so these people can really concentrate on their families and just recovering, you know, emotionally and physically from this almost, you know, traumatic event that they have. It’s almost as bad as losing a loved one because it’s almost like something has invaded kind of your private space.

Jimmy: Yes, I would totally agree with that statement. I think, furthermore, you know, for the typical policyholder, I mean, most consumers, obviously they have their coverage and it’s required by their mortgage company or their lender. And let’s face it, they’ll shelve the policy. And a lot of these policies, as we all…you know, for the audience out there, the policy is an actual contract between the insured and the insurer. So there’s many conditions and post-loss obligations. And I think that’s where we step in as professionals to assist the policyholder on providing the burden of proof of the damages. And when I say the burden of proof, you know, putting together the respective estimates, and getting experts involved such as causation experts. And again, what do I mean by causation expert? An expert such as your firm, Derek, GCI that could document and show there was a breach in a roof, or as you said earlier, in a window, door opening, building envelope.

And I think additionally, the time constraints, some of these policies have some time constraints that are very sensitive if the carrier requests certain documents or requests certain proofs of loss, documents proving the amount of your loss, what is the insured claiming, what’s the dollar amount. And again, that’s our job to appraise and assist and document the claim from A to Z for a policyholder. So, as I said before, it could be very cumbersome and very difficult to do this. On top of the added pressure of, as you just mentioned, Derek, the emotional stress of securing your property, and obviously sometimes moving from harm’s way and basically leaving the state, as a lot of Floridians did this past fall.

Derek: Right, yeah, absolutely. I totally agree with the way you see it as well, I’m seeing same thing. Is there anything that you do differently now when you’re, say, first coming onto a site where it’s potentially been damaged or affected by a storm, the way you investigate or assess damage today versus 10, 12, 13 years ago? Or have you always done it your way? You know, obviously, since you have the background in construction and your dad’s an architect, have you always done it the same way, or do you do it differently now than you have done it? Or what’s your experience?

Jimmy: So, yeah, as far as changing the ways, we all have our ways of conducting business and approaching a claim. And granted, yeah, I have to say that in 10, 12 years, I mean, the industry’s changed a lot. And again, personally, I’m very humbled to be where I’m at, and I stress to even our membership at FAPIA and they’re proactive, and we learn every day something. These policies are…you know, insurance policies are changing, Derek, constantly. There’s a lot of erosions of coverage, there’s exclusions. And I think it’s very important to stay relevant to the market.

But to answer what you asked me, I think it has changed in a way where now, in 2018 as opposed to 2006, ’07, or after the ’04 and ’05 storms, yeah, we’ve had to rely more on the experts. And again, as I said earlier, we have the burden of proof for the insured that, yeah, there was physical damage as a result of this storm, and proving that physical damage. And what I mean by that? Obviously, on a case like on a roof where, let’s say it’s a commercial building, Derek, and it’s a flat roof, and the insurance company’s inspecting the loss but they don’t see removal of the actual material or a peel back, as we call it in the industry. Now you have to go to step two or option B, which is obviously do some further testing, moisture surveys, some core testing to prove the physical damage.

And again, I think it’s important to rely on experts that could document this. And again, it’s very simple. To me it’s basically if the insurance company is doing it and they’re bringing out their consultants, both building consultants and engineers, it’s prudent for us as policyholder advocates to have our team of folks to do it and present our side of the claim.

Derek: Right. And obviously, you know who the right experts are to bring out since you’ve been in the industry a while, and you can short-circuit that for the insured as well.

Jimmy: Correct.

Derek: So, you know, I think you bring great value to the client and to this person that’s stressed out, full of anxiety, and is looking for peace of mind in someone like yourself. That’s great. Here’s a good question for you. I mean, looking into the crystal ball for the future, or even now,we’re
12 months downwind, so to speak, of Irma. If there were three or four things you could tell or suggest to a property owner or property manager to do now that we’re a year post Irma, or for any future storm, if there were three or four critical things you could tell them or advise them on, what would those be and what would you stress to those owners and those insureds?

Jimmy: I would say, number one, definitely have the property inspected, at least have an overview, again, of the entire envelope, the roof covering, the walls, any thermal imaging to see if there’s any water intrusion to the attic or walls or ceilings. So that’s number one. It’s always, again, a good idea to have it inspected. Let’s say even if it doesn’t merit to put in a claim, but at least the client knows and is rest assured that everything’s okay. And obviously, window openings and doors, garage doors, etc. And number two, I think it’s always important for the insured to have…or policyholder to have a relationship with professionals such as, you know, a public adjuster, their general contractor, and even a restoration contractor should be on call [SP] as a team in case of an issue, you know, whether it’s the…

Derek: You mean before the storm? Before the storm [crosstalk 00:14:15]

Jimmy: Oh, absolutely, yes, before the storm, right. Yes, to have a plan in place where, you know, they would be able to mobilize in case that they have to tarp a roof, board up some windows, or obviously the actual contractor would be already well aware of the property. And the insured would feel a lot better knowing that they’d already vetted that company correct, and they had the references and had a relationship for future business.

And I think number three would be document, document before the storm. What I mean by document? Obviously, have photographs, have video specifically of personal property, of inventories, of any valuable items such as furs or any collectables, furniture, electronics, etc. And then, obviously, and the property as well, the roof, and showing the condition of the home or the business or the commercial building prior to the loss. And even a step further, Derek, have an inspection showing that, you know, like a moisture survey showing the roof is in great shape. Now, after a storm is where you show that there was a difference, and there was direct physical damage to the property. So I think that’s number three, documentation.

And number four, I would say have a yearly or every two…twice a year, excuse me, speak to your insurance broker or agent to go over the coverages, and make sure that you’re up to date on replacement costs to what the current market price is, and that you specifically look at the exclusions, specifically wind storm exclusions for hurricanes and name storms, and deductibles, and make sure that the agent is giving you all those options. So I think those are four critical points for any consumer or policyholder to do.

Derek: You mentioned the term “replacement cost.” If a property owner has a claim, he is going to get compensated by the insurance company. Does the insurance company… What is replacement cost? I’ve heard that term, I’ve heard of actual cash value, I’ve heard of replacement cost. What is the fee gonna be, what check is he gonna get, and what are his obligations are gonna be? Like, what’s that process look like?

Jimmy: And a good point, again, that you’re mentioning, Derek, because, as I stated a few moments ago on differences between ’04, ’05 to now, specifically for residential losses. Replacement cost, back in ’04, ’05, the insurance companies were paying replacement costs. And obviously, replacement cost is today’s cost of replacing that particular item, so like a roof of…you know, it’s not what you paid for it when it was installed, it’s today’s replacement market price. As opposed to now, fast forward to 2018, insurance companies, that’s been removed off the policies for them to have to pay replacement cost upfront to the insured, rather they only own the ACV. And when I say ACV, it’s the actual cash value.

And simple arithmetic there is you have a replacement cost and then you have what we call depreciation. Over the years, obviously roofs deteriorate or they have a useful life. Right? Windows and cabinetry. So they would remove the depreciation. Usually, it’s based on a percentage, like 20%, 30%. I’ve seen even up to 50% on roofs. So imagine that, you have a replacement cost less 50% so the insured is actually getting 50% of the money upfront to start the work. So it puts them in a pretty tough position to amend [SP] the work.

Derek: He signed a contract for 50% more of the cash that he’s actually getting.

Jimmy: Correct. And they’re sort of, like, you know, have to say, financing the project and then they have to submit the receipts later to recover the depreciation. So on some policies it is recoverable. But I just wanted to…I’m glad you brought that up, Derek, because it’s an important topic, absolutely.

Derek: So that sounds like it’s vital to get your ducks in a row, so to speak, well in advance of any storm, understand your policy, have your building evaluate so that you have a baseline condition that you’ve stated what the condition of your property was.

Jimmy: Correct.

Derek: Not simply by just taking a couple photos of the outside, but actually have somebody visit your property and do some testing to make sure everything’s sound. And then maintain all your records so that you can give the insurance company what they’re asking for as required by your contract with insurance. There’s a lot more to this than just filing a claim and going on your way. It sounds like you’ve got a lot of homework to do, and you need people who are knowledgeable and can help you throughout the process.

Jimmy: Absolutely. And again, as public adjusters, public insurance adjusters licensed by the state of Florida, this is all we do is focus on documenting and processing property insurance claims. So yeah, you hit the nail on the head by, you know, what we just talked about archiving and having as much information to provide to the carrier when the event does happen, when there is a catastrophic [inaudible 00:19:06] hurricane event. That way there’s no misunderstanding on some of those.

Derek: So there’s no loopholes or triggers that you can make a mistake with, and then lose out on something that you’re actually entitled to, which obviously does happen and it can be even more traumatic than it really needs to be.

Jimmy: Yes.

Derek: Great. Well, I think this has been a fantastic podcast. To sum it up, I think it’s vital to have some people on your team well in advance to the storm to dig into the knowledge that’s out there. And if it’s something that you need help with, then to reach out to Jimmy or GCI. And certainly, you know, I think both of us are blessed to be in this business where we feel like we can make a real difference in people’s lives, and help them through this trauma and scary time in their lives. So from all of us at GCI, I just wanna thank you for coming on and being our special guest as the only guitar-playing president of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.

Jimmy: Wow. Yeah, that’s a surprise to the audience, right? That would be only bass guitar and electric guitar player in the 25-year history of FAPIA. But thank you, it’s my pleasure.

Derek: Great. Well, I really appreciate you coming on. And I look forward to…

Jimmy: Right. And if I could just end it with one note, Derek, and you just mentioned that it’s [inaudible 00:20:30] a central theme and common denominator is we are helping the citizens of Florida and the property owners of Florida that when they’re in this unfortunate position, pick up the pieces, and again, put it all together, that we’re there helping the client. And once you put that first, everything falls into place and feel good about it because obviously, yeah, we are serving the community, we are helping the residents, our neighbors. So again, it’s been my honor and pleasure to be here today on this podcast, and I wanna thank GCI for the opportunity.

Derek: Thanks so much, Jimmy. And we look forward to seeing you for many, many years to come. Take care of yourself.

Jimmy: Thank you, sir.

Derek: Thanks, everyone, for joining us at GCI for our podcast with “Everything Building Envelope.” We look forward to providing many more like this valuable and informative sessions where we can help. Thank you.

Strategic Projects Division and Testing Methods

Jason Bondurant – GCI Consultants

  • Strategic Projects
  • Water Testing Methods
  • Hurricane Recovery
  • Water Penetration in Buildings
  • Results & Solutions
  • Consultants versus Contractors
  • Elimination of Problems

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

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Chris: Welcome to today’s “Everything Building Envelope” podcast. I’m Chris Matthews, Vice President and Senior Consultant for GCI Consultants, and I’ll be your host for today’s podcast. My guest today is Jason Bondurant, Director of Strategic Projects from GCI. Hi, Jason.

Jason: Hey, Chris. Thanks for having me.

Chris: Glad you’re here today. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Jason: Well, I’ve been a consultant for GCI for about five years now. Right now, working in the Strategic Projects division which is mostly dealing with problems with existing buildings and things like leak investigations, like we’re going to talk about today, due diligence, condition surveys, various services for existing buildings, essentially.

Chris: And I have told Jason several times, I think he’s got the most fun job in GCI, as far as I’m concerned. Because he goes out and sees lots of different things all the time, different types of problems in all different types of buildings, all different types of envelope systems. And then he gets to really do the detective work to figure out what the problem is and how to resolve it. And to me, he’s, kinda, putting it all together, everything we do at GCI. So, Jason, we get a call from a client with a problem at a building, why don’t you just run through with us what your process would be then once you get that call?

Jason: So, specifically, that call is usually related to a leak through the envelope of a building. And this has been especially a huge problem we’ve been dealing with in South Florida since Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Basically, the structures, down here, were exposed to water driven by winds in a way that they never may have been exposed to before. So it was an extreme test for all the buildings down here and a lot of the buildings didn’t past the test, and there were a lot of leaks down here. And so when we first get that call, I guess, the first thing we try to do is learn what we can over the phone from the potential client about what’s going on.

Is it hurricane related? Has this been a recurring problem? You know, what’s, kind of, the history of the issue? You, kind of, want to start by finding out what is the history of the issue, and what is the history of the building. And usually, I’ll ask them to send us some drawings if they have any drawings or any other documents about the building. And the reason why we like to look at that is we like to see, you know, what is the overall design concept for the structure, are we dealing with exterior wall problems? What’s on the exterior wall? Is it stucco typically for buildings in this area? Or is it metal panels? Or what is the construction?

And then the reason why we like to look at that is because we want to determine how that system is managing water. Typically, down here, it would be a barrier-type wall system if we’re looking at a wall problem. So all the water is, basically, getting deflected at the exterior surface of the wall, or are we looking at a system where it’s a rain screen system and it’s draining water, you know, different types of envelope systems will manage the water differently. So we like to figure out what is the overall design concept. Then, typically, what we would do is have an onsite meeting with the client and have them show us the problem. What we’re looking for is any evidence of water leakage, water damage at the inside of the building.

A lot of the times, when we go in, it’s not actively leaking, so we’re just looking at any evidence of prior leaks. Then obviously, we would want to look at the exterior of the building and see, you know, what are any possible deficiencies with the exterior of the building that could be causing that?

Chris: I was just gonna say that a lot of times when I’m doing those kind of things, the information you get because you’re dealing with people who may not specialize in looking for sources of leaks in a building, it could be a little unclear sometimes, those initial impressions you’re getting from the people at the site.

Jason: Yeah. An anecdotal-type evidence and you could get a different story from different unit owners. And sometimes if it’s not a residential building, you might not get much information at all from the tenants there, if they’re not paying really close attention to the leak when it’s happening. So, yeah, it can be tough. And sometimes, we don’t have a whole lot to go on, and that’s why, you know, it’s important that we do the visual inspection and look at everything for ourselves and not rely on the owner’s reports. Although, that obviously is useful to us. And then the most critical step is really the next step, which would be where we’re performing some kind of testing.

And the reason why that’s important is because really, we can go out there and we can look at it and we can say, you know, “Well, the ceiling joint over here looks like it’s in pretty rough shape,” you know, that could be it. Or, you know, you look over here, well, there’s a stucco crack over here, that could be a problem. Or, you know, the window looks suspect. And, you know, we could say all these things are questionable, but the only way to really know for sure is to do some kind of testings.

Chris: And when you do that testing, I know your experience like mine is what, kind of, proves to you that looking at those suspect conditions isn’t always the answer. Because, you know, I know you found like I have that you do this testing and sometimes it’s not the most obvious visual thing that ends up being your problem.

Jason: Yeah, exactly. And honestly, sometimes when you’re dealing with these issues, the problem may not be something you can see visually. If you’re looking at a deck or waterproofing system that may have pavers on top of it, you can’t visually see the waterproofing membrane down there. Or if you’re dealing with some kind of a rainscreen wall system, you know, you can’t see the weather barrier behind the exterior cladding. So this type of testing is what we use to, kind of, further isolate different areas and try to pinpoint, okay, is it this? Is it that? Is it the window? Is it the wall? Is it the deck?

So it’s very useful, the testing. And the testing can…it can vary by a lot, you know, it’s typically some form of water testing. And there’s lots of different methods we use. You know, if we’re looking at a deck, we might do some kind of flood testing. If we’re looking at a wall, we might just do some kind of rudimentary hose testing. Or if it’s a window, you know, we have our various methods for testing windows and doors using the exterior spray rack and things like that. So we do a lot of water testing when we’re evaluating these leak-type issues.

And then occasionally, even do some more invasive testing where we’re actually pulling things apart and, kind of, digging more into what’s beneath and what’s going on, especially like I said, if we’re dealing with, like, plaza decks, where we can’t see the water proofing. Or if we’re dealing with walls where we can’t see the weather barrier. You know, things need to be opened up for us to do our job, basically. And sometimes that can be challenging to convince a client that it’s necessary to do that.

But our whole approach to this is, we need to do whatever is necessary to really be able to pinpoint the problem. Because we know that if we’re not able to find it, and we recommend something that’s not actually the main source of the problem, then we’re gonna be getting called back later because the problem is still going on. So there’s a lot at stake for us too with all this, and we wanna make sure we get it right the first time.

Chris: You don’t wanna just…and I’ve seen some people whose approach or maybe the first approach on some of these buildings where people have a problem is just to, kind of, put a giant band-aid over everything and hope that the problem goes away. But what you’re saying is we’re not gonna take that approach. We’re gonna dig in and know for certain, here is what the problem is, and here is how to fix it.

Jason: Right. And if the client doesn’t wanna go that extra step for the destructive testing, let’s say, then we’re still gonna help them the best that we can. But we’re gonna be clear about, you know, these are the unknowns, or these are the potential results that could come from taking that approach, basically. But what I was gonna say was, actually, a lot of the times when I’m getting involved in these types of issues, this is not the first attempt that they’ve made to try to resolve the problem. Typically, when a building owner has a problem with their building, they’re gonna call a contractor first.

You know, I understand completely, you know, it’s gonna be less expensive. You know, they figure, why do I need to hire a consultant to help me with this problem? And in some cases, you know, if you are hiring a really knowledgeable contractor, then they should be able to resolve that issue. But in a lot of the cases where we’re getting involved, there have been, sometimes, multiple prior attempts to fix the problem that have been unsuccessful. So that’s why we take this whole approach because we don’t want our clients to be in that position by the time we get done. You know, we want this to be the last time that they have to go through this process for this problem.

And, yeah, usually by the time I get there, that’s what we’re seeing, is we’re seeing sealant that’s been smeared all over the wall or on the deck somewhere to try to mitigate water that’s been coming in. And sometimes it’s done by facilities personnel that may not be the most knowledgeable about the envelope of the building, and they’re just doing what they can. Or sometimes they just don’t have the budget, so they’re just doing what they can to try to mitigate the issue. When in some cases, we’ve even seen those attempts actually worsen the problem before they start to correct it.

So I’m thinking about things like flashings where their ceiling over, you know, drainage channels in the wall or underneath the window to try to keep water from getting in there because it’s leaking inside there and then they just make it worst. And I know you’ve seen a lot of stuff like that.

Chris: Yeah. A lot of people have the idea that mortar caulk is the better thing. So as you said, you sometimes…these that you go out to, they’ve already got three layers of caulk on there from people trying to, you know, put the band-aid on it. It can have no affect or as you said, if it’s over in a location that’s intended to let water out, you end up just holding more in and making it an even more severe problem. So you do your water testing. You do your destructive testing. You find out where the sources are. And then what’s your next step?

Jason: At that point, obviously, we’re gonna provide a report to the client that’s documenting all the prior steps, you know, reviewing all the project documents, evaluating the design, the service history, the inspection, testing. And we’re saying, okay, you know, “This is everything we’ve done. This is what we’ve come up with. Here’s a report, it has pictures.” You know, typically, it has some section details where we’re tracing a leak path through the building, trying to, you know, show them as best we can, you know, this is what we think is going on. And at that point, obviously, you know, the client is most interested in, “Now, okay, what do we have to do to resolve the problem?”

So, typically, what we would do at that stage is we would get a contractor involved and mock-up some kind of repair based on, you know, what our findings with the leak investigations. And if it’s a window leak, as an example, we would have a contractor come out, pick maybe one or two windows on the building and mock-up what we’re recommending would be the repair for those windows. And then, kind of, the final step before we determine, okay, this is the final scope for the repair procedure is we would wanna test that repair. So in the case of a window, we would perform another water test on that window to make sure that it’s no longer leaking.

So that way, everybody has confidence at that point, that okay, we did testing when we first got there. We tested the existing conditions. We found out this is how it’s leaking. We recommended a repair. Then we did testing after the repair, and we said, okay, you know, it’s no longer leaking in that way. That gives everybody confidence, the contractor, the client, and GCI that this repair is successful at addressing this problem. So that, kind of, comes full circle then and now at that stage, typically, the client would hire the contractor to do the repair on all the similar conditions on the building. And then sometimes we would be involved in that process, overseeing that work and sometimes not. But that, kind of, closes the loop on the leak investigation at that point.

Chris: Sure. And as you said, it could be just one location, or it could be a situation where the same problem’s occurring in a hundred different places on the building. And the level of oversight in the repair process could be different depending upon the owner’s budget, how many problems they have, those kind of things.

Jason: Each project we deal with is completely unique. And each client we deal with is unique. So our process, even though we have a very specific method, it’s gonna be tailored to the individual circumstances that we’re dealing with and the individual client’s needs.

Chris: And that goes back to what I was saying, is the variety in the work that you do because as you said, “Everyone is unique.” Unique problems, unique building, unique arrangements in situations with the owner’s budgets, type of building, residential versus office, all those kinds of things, as you said, you have to have a protocol, but you have to have the knowledge and confidence to be flexible in how that’s applied as well. So talk to us then, what’s some of the common problems that you see in these water leakage-type situations that we get involved with?

Jason: So like I mentioned, the majority of these types of leak investigations we’ve been doing since the hurricane, you know, we’ve been doing quite a few. And the majority of the issues that we’ve been looking at since the hurricane, I would say have been window and/or wall issues. And the reason why, is just with the wind-driven rain from the hurricane, driving this rain into the windows and the walls in a way that they were never exposed to before. So with the windows and walls, the main things that I’m seeing, obviously with the walls, stucco issues, which, I think, most people would expect. But I think that people would be surprised as to just the amount of water that can make its way through a little crack in the stucco.

Obviously, we demonstrate that through our leak investigations, but I think people would just be shocked to see the water that’s pouring in through some of these stucco cracks. With the building construction down here in South Florida, any of those cracks that you see is basically a compromise to your building envelope and that’s water that’s getting into the wall. And there’s stucco cracks on probably, say, the majority of buildings in South Florida. So that’s a big one. Glazing window issues is another big one. Again, in South Florida, here, the buildings that we’re dealing with, there is no flashing underneath the windows, so any leaks through the windows itself are getting into the wall system.

And so, you know, we’re looking at…and in some cases, these are just older buildings that we’re looking at. So the window products, you know, maybe they’re gasket glazed at the exterior, the gaskets have deteriorated, they’ve shrunk. Now, you have a lot of water that’s getting into the window and the window can’t manage it. So we see a lot of that type of stuff to. Sealant joints in general, anywhere where there’s sealant joints in the windows, in the wall, the issue with the sealant joints is they’re just so dependent on the workmanship from the individual contractor and the individual person that’s applying those sealants. So any little deficiency in sealant is gonna be letting water into the walls and around the windows, down here. I don’t know, do you have any other ones that you see, typically?

Chris: Well, sure, yeah. And I think as you were saying the severe weather conditions that we’ve seen recently have brought about a lot of the kinds of problems that you described. But I know you and others in GCI have done other investigations in other areas where it doesn’t take the severe event, it’s more the combined long term wetting of the walls, where you see problems that may result from sealant joints or underlying problems that you were talking about earlier with weather barriers, those kinds of things. All of the different parts and components of the walls that have to work together to keep the water out, we often see that some areas where those aren’t joint together, integrated well, and the water finds the way in through that path.

And what you were saying really struck, you know, hit home to me, in that it doesn’t take much of a void, crack, or a small void, or what have you can really end up in a lot of damage. The good thing about the South Florida construction is the CMU walls, in that, even if they’re wet, you’re usually not gonna get deterioration of the structure itself. But we get into other areas and some of the other types of projects you’re working on where it’s wood-framed or metal-framed walls and, I think, your experience like mine has been then you can have a lot worse than just water problems, you can actually be getting into structural damage to those kind of walls.

Jason: Just to add to that, just in general, the issues that we’re seeing could be related to the original installation or the original design of these buildings, or they could be related to differed maintenance and maybe prior remediation attempts being unsuccessful and things like that. So, I mean, we do these types of leak investigations on newer buildings and older buildings. Though the actual cause, or in terms of who is responsible varies by quite a bit.

Chris: So those are, kind of, some of the vertical issues, you know, walls, glazing systems, those kind of things. But I know you also get into horizontal issues with waterproofing, roofing, terraces, those kinds of things as well.

Jason: Yeah. And the waterproofing and the roofing issues can sometimes be the most damaging just because of the exposure at being on a horizontal surface. It’s gonna be exposed to a lot more water, especially if the drainage is not ideal on these decks. And that’s one of the main things that…or one of the first things that we look for when you have leaks through a waterproof deck. What is the drainage like? And the key there is making sure that you have drainage at the finished surface and also at the waterproofed surface. And this is another area where a lot of people don’t really understand how these types of components function where, you know, if you have waterproofing on a structural deck and then you have a topping slab, a lot of people don’t understand that, that that water is meant to get beneath that topping.

And when it does, you have to make sure that it’s designed and has a place for that water to go. That’s something that we look at a lot with plaza deck issues. And these can be some of the difficult to deal with, too, because it’s usually the most invasive to try to actually investigate these problems because we have components on top of the weather resistant layer that are concealing it, so they have to be removed in order for us to see it. So definitely, with waterproofing we see a lot of drainage problems. A lot of problems where the waterproofing is not integrated well with other components, so where the waterproofing transitions to the walls or where it transitions to windows and doors.

This is a big problem on new construction, especially because we’re just finding a lack of coordination between the individual trades where it comes to these types of transitions. Roofing issues, same type of thing, the main issue we see there where the roof is tying into the exterior wall, parapet walls are a big source of leaks. And also, just differed maintenance on the roof is another big problem. I think building owners should understand that preventative maintenance especially on something like a roof is well worth the investment, and it’s gonna prolong the life of your roof considerably.

So in a lot of cases where we’re looking at issues with the roof or with the waterproofing, you know, maybe nothing’s been done, no work’s been done up there for 20 years, and it’s really no surprise to us when we get there that it’s leaking because they just haven’t done anything to maintain it. And that’s something else that we try to stress to our clients through these whole processes. You know, what can they do in the future to try to avoid getting into this situation again.

Chris: Right. Because a lot of people with buildings just feel like, okay, you build it and you forget about it, and it will all be fine forever. But what we know is that, there is two things. It has to be built right in the beginning, and then it has to be maintained because nothing lasts forever.

Jason: Yeah. The owners have that responsibility to maintain it.

Chris: Exactly, right. Whether they know that or not, we help to educate them if they don’t, that you’ve got some ongoing responsibility here. Even after we come in and find the solution to your problem, there is going to be some ongoing maintenance required. In the intro you had also mentioned, in addition to the forensics where we look at buildings with problems, that you’re also doing due diligence inspections for real estate transactions.

Jason: And it’s not just that but also just general conditions surveys for building owners, which is another area where we’re talking to owners about maintenance, and we try to educate them about that because this is another type of task that we’re involved with where we’re seeing a lot of differed maintenance-type problems. But, basically, what these condition survey, due diligence-type inspections are is, it’s more general, I would say, we’re not focused on an individual leak problem as much as we’re kind of assessing the whole envelope.

So sometimes we would be called in, like you said, because someone wants to purchase a building, and they want someone to do a survey to see, you know, what are the problems, what is the likelihood that there’s gonna need to be serious maintenance on this building within the next few years. And so, typically, what we would do is, again, a visual inspection of the building. We’re looking at, what is the general condition of the envelope of the building, the walls, the roof, the waterproofing, the windows.

Again, we’re looking for things that could potentially cause moisture intrude through the envelope, or we’re looking at things that could potentially be a structural concern. But just, kind of, giving an overall survey and then, typically, providing recommendations for repair, either in the short-term or sometimes in the long-term, where we may say, “Well, you know, the roof is in fair condition now, it seems to be performing, but you’re gonna wanna think about replacing it in the next 10 years.” Let’s say, so. That way, the owners can take that and budget for that or use that in their decision whether or not to purchase the building or in their negotiation to purchase the building.

Chris: Sure. And similar too if you’re buying a home and you have a home inspection, this is valuable information for people spending millions of dollars on large building real estate transactions. They need to know. They need to know if there’s a problem right now. And then also, as you said, budgeting for what needs to be done on this building over the next 5, 10 years if they buy it and own it. And that’s obviously a very important factor in these purchased decisions that our clients in that area are making.

Well, thanks for your time today, Jason. I’m sure our listeners gained a lot of insight and advice regarding the strategic projects forensic work that you do. If you’d like to speak with Jason, you can call GCI at 877-740-9990. I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. GCI Consultants looks forward to bringing you continued interesting topics and guest to continue to talk about matters that affect the building envelope. Thank you. And I look forward to talking with you again soon on the “Everything Building Envelope” podcast series. For now, this is Chris Matthews signing off.

Construction Industry Legal Services

Paul Gary, ESQ – The Gary Law Group

  • About The Firm
  • Notice of Defect & What to do
  • Florida 558 Notices
  • Opportunity to Cure – Right of Repair
  • Documentation needed to avoid insurance issues
  • Product Warranties & Importance
  • Water Leakage Defects & Contractor Inspections

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

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Will: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s podcast. I’m Will Smith. I’m the president of GCI Consultants. I’m going to be your host today. I’m very happy that we have with us an old friend, Paul Gary of the Gary Law Group in Portland, Oregon.

Paul’s firm has an extensive history of providing legal services to the construction industry. So welcome, Paul.

Paul: Thank you, Will. Nice to hear from you. I’m happy to be here.

Will: Great. Can you give our listeners a little bit more information about yourself and your firm?

Paul: We are located out, as you mentioned, in Portland, Oregon. Really have for the past…well, let me put it this way. In 1992, I got involved with construction issues and working with window and door manufacturers, and have been doing that ever since in the last probably 10 years mostly with regard to representation of window and door manufacturers, but in the context of exterior cladding issues and construction defect issues.

Will: Great. And that fits right into what the topic is going to be today. I’ve asked Paul to talk with us today about what do we do when we get a notice of a defect related to a construction project? Now, in Florida, we’re kind of used to hearing about what we call a 558 Notice.

And I know that Paul’s firm has even been involved in some of these cases here in Florida, but I believe other states have provisions that are similar to a 558 Notice. Is that right, Paul?

Paul: That is right, Will. And yeah, we’ve had a number of these down in Florida. Nevada has chapter 40. California has what’s still called Senate Bill 800, and so it’s a phenomenon that emerged some years ago and is pretty prevalent now.

Will: And what is that notice? Is it really a lawsuit?

Paul: The notice is not a lawsuit. We actually wrote the Oregon notice and opportunity to cure statute. And bear with me for an anecdote, I remember being at a hearing in the State Capitol and representative from the industry that I was with said, “You know, the last time I was sued, I had…the first notice I had that there was any problem was entitled summons and complaint.”

And there’s something that’s just not right about that. And the way to tap the brakes, so to speak, and put a check on a situation like that is to have a statute which requires notice, an opportunity to inspect, and an opportunity to make an offer to perform or do some corrective work if it’s called for as a precondition to the right to file a lawsuit.

So that is what 558 is, chapter 40, Senate Bill 800, and Oregon chapter 701.

Will: Okay. Let’s say I’m a contractor or a material supplier, a manufacturer, whatever, let’s say I get one of these notices. What do I do now?

Paul: Will, that is a pretty open-ended question, and I’m happy to answer it. There are some things that you always want to do. And then as you gather information, you’ve got more specific choices to make. But perhaps to me, the first thing to do is get your own information.

You should have been given notice of project name or address, dates, parties’ names, and get your own information from the sources that are available as to what your involvement was at that project, and whether or not there have been any problems. If you have a product manufacturer, what product is involved? And products have strengths and weaknesses.

And begin to build your own context because the information that you receive from what I’ll call the other side, and a notice and opportunity to cure situation, is all filtered. It’s all tailored to make it look like you have a liability. So you have to get out there and do some work , to do your own investigation.

At least that’s step one to me.

Will: Okay. This notice of opportunity to cure is really…it’s telling me that I have the option to go out and fix something. Is that right?

Paul: That’s right. You have the right to request or demand an inspection in a lot of situations. Initially, a visual inspection. Get out, get on the ground and see what’s there, to be followed if need be with an invasive investigation as you very well know because we’ve done a bunch of them together.

Will: Yeah. Now, let’s say I’m a contractor and I get this notice or anybody involved in the construction process and I get this notice, you mentioned preparing yourself and documentation. What kind of documentation do I need to get? What should I get together?

Paul: I’d want to know what my product is, whether or not I have any contractual entanglements. In other words, do I have any contracts that apply to this project? Because those commitments form a background, whatever the contractual terms are, form a background to your notice and opportunity to cure.

They don’t go away. They’re still part of the situation. Find out whether or not there have been any complaints. And let’s say you’re a product manufacturing and you sell through distribution, contact your distributor. Find out if there have been any problems, any issues at this project or at similar projects involving the same parties. Because believe it or not, you often will get one of these and it’s not your product and it’s not your work.

It’s easy to send out one of these notices. It takes a little bit of diligence to make sure, first of all, am I really involved in this job? And secondly, then, have there been any signs of any problems? Because you’d like to know that before you get out there.

Will: What about product warranties and construction warranties? It’s pretty common in the construction industry that they offer like a one-year warranty or something like that. Are these warranties really important and how does the Notice of Claim, how does that affect all of this? What if it comes in after the warranty period expired?

Paul: Well, if a Notice of Claim comes in after the warranty period has expired, there are other legal theories that are normally available to a property owner who’s really got the primary responsibility to give the notice that’s part of this program. And if there’s a latent defect or if there is damage to other property, the law gives claimant an opportunity to bring tort claims which are different than contract or warrantied claims.

Is the warranty important? It’s absolutely important and I’d be happy to talk about that as we go along here.

Will: So if it’s let’s say a one-year warranty period and that one year has gone past and I get a notice, that doesn’t just mean that as a contractor, I’m off the hook because one year has gone by.

Paul: No, that would be a mistake to treat it that way.

Will: Yeah, okay. And talk a little bit more about these warranties. You said there’s other information you can give us about those.

Paul: Yeah. Well, this is a theory or an approach that we’ve developed. And candidly, it’s summed up by this simple comment. You can’t sue me for something I’m willing to do. You can’t sue me for something I’m willing to do.

So if you do have a warranty and let’s say the warranty is not expired and you offer to perform under the warranty, the lawyer who represents the party that issued the notice and is intending, this is really a precursor to litigation, is intending to sue you, they don’t want you to do the work. They want a check, they want money.

And by offering to do work, whether it’s in the chapter 40 context or the 558 context of notice and opportunity to cure, or simply under a product warranty, you are offering to do something. You’re tendering performance. And if the claimant won’t allow you to perform, that obligation may be excused.

We use it all the time. You can’t sue me if I’m willing to do the work that can exist in warranty or outside of warranty.

Will: It’s very interesting. Let’s talk a little bit…you mentioned earlier about making a demand or a request that you perform an inspection. So let’s say I get served this Notice of Claim , and how do I go about making this request to do an inspection?

And what am I going to be looking for? Let’s say the claim is, as you and I have seen many times and they often involve water leakage, how does the contractor know what to look for when they do this type of a property inspection?

Paul: Well, if the contractor is not confident, if it’s a significant project and the contractor is not confident that they understand their work well enough to be able to go out and look at critical areas around the work that they have done and observe the condition and get a pretty good sense of whether or not there’s a problem with what they did.

If they don’t feel like they can do that, they really need to get some expert assistance to help them because you get one visual inspection normally, and those eyes have to be trained to be able to identify, are there signs of problems?

Will: Do you find that these notices are kind of vague when they come in? It says they have a problem where…do they get specific about the problem or they just generally say we have leakage or something like that?

Paul: They’ll often say, “We have leakage,” and be terribly vague. And most 558 and most of these statutorily-driven schemes require specifics. And someone has to understand the basis on which, in our case are hypothetical, the 558 notice is given and look at the rules.

And if the person sending the notice didn’t follow the rules and didn’t provide the specifics, that’s your first response to them. You haven’t given me an adequate notice. I’m not recognizing this as an adequate notice. And whether it’s from a statutory scheme, Will, or a contract, always stop and look. If I’m not reasonably informed of what they believe the problem is, that in and of itself is a problem and you have to go back to the claimant with that.

Will: Okay. So now, and theoretical here, I’ve gotten a notice. I’ve responded to it. I did all my due diligence, got all my background information, got my documents in order. I went out there and did my inspection. Now, how do I respond to the 558 as a contractor or a material supplier?

Do I just shoot off a letter in my letter head or what do I got to do?

Paul: Yeah. The form of the communication is mostly by letter, but you really have to have a template of what are all the time deadlines and to make sure that you follow those. And then you have to get enough information so that you know whether or not to make an offer.

And normally, you can make an offer to do work or you can make an offer to write a check or pay money. And if that is accepted, then the claim against you, assume you go ahead and do the work, at least the claim against you pursuant to that notice is satisfied.

Will: So it sounds to me that no matter what, if I’m a contractor, a builder, a material supplier, and I get one of these notices, my best defense is to get legal counsel involved.

Paul: Yes. Unless it’s such a small item that you believe it’s not worth it or you’ve had an awful lot of experience in doing this yourself, you really do need to have some guidance. You spend a few bucks up front, pays off in the long run.

Will: All right, well, I think what you’ve given us here is excellent information. I really appreciate your time today with us, Paul. It’s been very helpful and I know our listeners gain a lot of insight and advice on handling these types of notices. But before we go, what’s the best way to contact you or your firm?

Paul: Oh, thanks, Will. Our website is My email is And God rest her soul, I used to explain to my mom that I name everything after myself so that she thinks I’m successful.

Will: Good move. Excellent. All right. Then, Paul, thank you so much. Again, I hope everyone enjoyed our podcast today. We really look forward to bringing you other interesting topics and guests as we continue our discussion about matters affecting the building envelope. Again, thanks to Paul, thank you to our listeners.

I look forward to talking to everyone soon, once again, on the Everything Building Envelope podcast series. And if you want any more information, you can also contact GCI at, or you can see the entire series of podcasts at So thank you for now. This is Will Smith signing off today’s broadcast.

Thank you.

Roof Systems, Hurricane Preparation & Recovery

Derek Segal – GCI Consultants, LLC

  • Roof Consulting
  • Hurricane Preparation
  • Vendor Relationships
  • Investigations
  • Maintenance
  • Warranty & Insurance

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

*** Subscribe to the show and leave us a Review on ITunes!

Check out our Roof Consulting Services

Chris: Welcome to today’s “Everything Building Envelope” podcast. I’m Chris Matthews, Vice President and Senior Consultant for GCI Consultants, and I’ll be your host for today’s podcast. My guest today is Derek Segal. Derek recently joined our GCI team as an experienced and sought-after roof consultant. Welcome, Derek.

Derek: Thanks for having me today, Chris.

Chris: Sure, glad to have you on board with GCI and on our podcast. Why don’t you fill in our listeners with a little bit about your background, Derek?

Derek: Thanks, Chris. Yes, career started more than 25 years ago in South Florida. I was president of a pretty prominent commercial roofing company in Fort Lauderdale for 13 years. Licensed, state licensed, and qualified for the company. In 2006, my role transitioned more to a roof consulting focus. I felt property owners needed an advocate for them to help them make better-educated decisions about the long-term care and management of their roofing systems.

After the 2004/5 hurricane seasons, there was a tremendous need for an expert that had some experience with, you know, storm-related damage and how to help these property owners accurately evaluate and present their damage to insurance companies and different industries to make sure that they got, you know, the money they needed to recover from these hurricanes. And so I already developed a keen eye for that forensic-type inspection. And that’s why I really wanted to come on board with GCI and, you know, help make a difference in the long run.

Chris: Great, and we’re sure glad to have you. And we’ve seen after Irma more widespread effects from a hurricane than Florida has experienced in many, many years, and seeing that, especially in your area, in the roofing. So following that landfall of Irma back in September of 2017, what are some of the steps an owner or manager could take regarding their roof and the effects of the storm?

Derek: Well, that’s a great question. And I think the one thing that comes to my mind is really that the preparation for any type of storm or any type of high wind event or abnormal condition is to start your preparation well before.

And, you know, what I mean by that is not an hour before or a week before, I mean months before, by having someone create a relationship with you that knows your roof, has the historical information about your roof, knows who the manufacturer is, knows if you have a warranty and what’s required for that warranty, and someone that can make sure that everything is tuned up and in good shape prior to a storm so that recovery or dealing with issues after the storm become much more simple.

So try to create a relationship with someone prior to a storm. Because, you know, I use the analogy of a doctor. The best time to go and see your doctor is before something happens. Why? Because that gives that doctor and you some type of relationship. And the worst time to look for an expert or somebody you can rely on is really after a storm event like Irma. Everybody’s running around trying to deal with chaos and everything after a storm, and really it is a stressful situation. And the best time to have that relationship and develop these ties to experts is prior to the event.

So, you know, here’s something I would do right before a storm, is have your roof checked, make sure everything’s tightened up, you know, equipment is secure, and perhaps even have a moisture test of your roof, if it’s a flat roof, every couple of years that you have a baseline condition. After the storm, call your expert out. Take as many photos as you can. And by the way, you should take photos before a storm as well. And have that independent expert get up on your roof and do a careful visual inspection. And perhaps if it’s a flat roof, again, do some basic moisture testing.

Because the fact that there’s no water pouring into the building shouldn’t be a reason for complacency or thinking that nothing happened on your roof. You have an obligation for your roof warranty, and also for your insurance company, to make sure that you protect your property. So, again, I want to stress, again, create these relationships before an event. Have your team in place ready to go so that the recovery from that storm becomes much easier and less stressful.

Chris: Sure. And we see that in a lot of areas of the building envelope in that some building owners, managers, are very diligent about maintenance and upkeep of the systems, and some feel like, you know, they were installed in the beginning and we’re never going to worry about them again. And in our experience, the people who stay on top of the systems and maintenance typically do a lot better when the storms or other severe weather events come.

So many folks are of the mindset that if there’s no leak after the storm or things look relatively normal, nothing’s necessary. What are your opinions about that mindset?

Derek: I would say if you don’t see a leak in the building, you should probably be more concerned than if you do see a leak. And what does that mean? Again, you know, out of sight is out of mind. Nobody wants to look at the roof. Everybody’s looking at landscaping, and what fell over, and what fences got damaged. But don’t be complacent.

A lot of time, especially if it’s a flat roof, the structure underneath the roof can actually hide a lot of defects. Some roof deck types will actually provide some waterproofing function that can hide or delay leaks into a building that could actually make things much worse for you. So the fact that there’s no leak does not mean you should not have that roof very carefully checked, again, by an expert trained in a post-storm effect on your type of roofing system and someone that can look under the hood to make sure that there’s nothing hidden or concealed that may come back and actually be much more difficult and more expensive to deal with later on.

Not to mention that it’s your obligation as a property owner to have your property checked and prevent any additional damage from happening. Because two years down the road if you get a leak and you finally call your insurance company, that may actually hurt you in the long run, because you do have that obligation to make sure that, you know, nothing untoward happened to your property, either visibly or hidden, that may make things much worse.

Chris: Sure. Yes, and I can speak from experience on the wall system work that I do that some of that hidden damage can be so much more severe, and especially if it’s allowed to continue over a long period of time.

Derek: Yeah, you may actually also have some biological growth that could happen under that roof, or in a wall, that could actually lead to health problems. So, again, you know, I can’t stress enough the fact that you need to have somebody experienced that can perhaps use some equipment to look under the hood and make sure that there’s no issues.

Chris: Sure, yes. Great advice. So when the storm comes and someone does do the right thing, does contact, hopefully, you and GCI to come out and do an inspection, what’s that going to involve?

Derek: Again, I think, first of all, depending on how proactive you’ve been prior to the storm will kind of determine how easy or how simple, you know, the after-effects will be. If you have a relationship with GCI or some other professional expert that already is intimate with your property, knows who the manufacturer of the system is or was, knows how your roof is attached, and knows what maintenance issues you’ve had prior to the storm, knows what roof equipment you have up on that roof, will make things much easier.

So let’s look at it from that perspective first. If I’m that expert and I’ve already been on your roof, I know exactly what to look for, how to get up onto the roof, where perhaps the more critical areas of damage are. And damage can be twofold. There’s what’s called direct damage, which is actual lifting up of the roof or on a sloped tile roof tiles that are missing or tiles that are broken. So direct damage is actual direct impact that your roof sustained.

And then the second type of damage that, you know, we need to be concerned about is what’s called indirect damage, and that’s where flying debris may have rolled or caused equipment to fall over, or some other consequential damage might have occurred. That’s what’s called an indirect damage.

So step one is call your expert that hopefully you already have that relationship with. That will also put you at the top of the list, because, keep in mind, things are so busy after a storm. Get that expert out there as soon as possible. Once we get up onto the roof, what we would do is focus on the more susceptible areas of a roof, which are…typically on a flat roof it would be the corners or the edges of the roof. We would inspect those very carefully to make sure that there’s been no loss of attachment of the edges of the roof. And then we would also check to see sometimes that the corners actually lift up and air gets up underneath the roof. We would check for that.

And on a tile roof, I would say the most obvious things are tiles that have flown off the roof, tiles that are broken. And some of the other things we would look for would also be if your tiles are screwed down or mechanically attached or nailed. These tiles can crack in the corners, because what happens in the high wind is that they lift up, and then they come crashing down when the wind subsides, and they actually contact with one another and actually break in the corners.

So we would get up on the roof. We would perhaps do that thorough visual inspection. If on a flat roof, we would, again, do some moisture testing to make sure there’s no hidden moisture underneath the roof. And then based on what we find, we would either come off the roof and say, “Mr. Property Owner, you can feel safe. Your roof’s in good shape,” and that will give the owner peace of mind. Or we can identify some issues that perhaps need some more careful attention, and then recommend some other testing or inspections that need to be done, and actually hold their hand all the way through the process. So that’s kind of what we would do, you know, from the time after the storm to kind of when the next phase may be required.

Chris: Okay. When you talked about some of the types of damage which may be visible, tile damage, cracking, damage to a flat roof, are there some other examples of visible or hidden damage that may have happened during the recent hurricane?

Derek: Yeah. I mean, you know, a lot of time what can happen is flat roofing systems are adhered either mechanically or with some type of adhesive down to the underlying materials, which could be an insulation board or the structural deck. Now when air gets up underneath the roof, it’ll lift the corner, which will still stay lifted, but the actual center or the field of the roof will set back down as if everything is fine.

And something we really look for is what’s called wind uplift. And oftentimes, you won’t even notice that the roof is actually no longer properly attached. And there are some tests that we can perform called a wind uplift test where we use a device to actually determine how securely the roof is attached to make sure that there’s been no delamination or deflection of that roofing material that could, you know, be detrimental to the building later on.

Some of the other damage we’ve seen that may be hidden underneath some roof tiles is that these nails or screws, when the front of the tile deflects or lifts up, it’ll actually torque the nail up. And when the tile sets back down, that nail, which is concealed under the tile above it, is now not seated properly. And so this may not lead to massive leakage into the building. But what’ll happen over time is water will now be able to work its way in around all these little nail holes that you can’t really see. And by the time we catch this a year or two later, half of your structural decking may have actually rotted.

So it’s really something that you should make certain you have a relationship with someone that has extensive training, especially in high wind zone areas, that knows where to look, how to inspect it, and also, again, I can’t stress enough, someone with whom you have a relationship with prior to the event.

Chris: So in this tile situation that you’re describing, the storm comes, lifts the tile. It’s almost prying the nail out of position like you would with a claw hammer removing a nail. And then so are you saying then the tiles could just lay right back down and look like there was no problem at all?

Derek: Absolutely. In fact, they will. They will lay back down. The only thing that’s now changed is that, once we actually get up underneath the course of tile that’s above the tile that’s had the problem, we’ll be able to actually find where that nail has now backed out or is no longer seated properly in that hole within the tile. And these little holes now are obviously passages for moisture to continue to leak into the building that may be unnoticed for years.

And when that next storm comes along, I mean, I guess you can kind of imagine what’s going to happen is all these tiles are now going to fly off the roof. Which if you didn’t locate this damage in the prior storm and then an insurance expert comes out, they may determine that this may have, in fact, happened years before, and you may have a big problem.

So even if you think there’s no damage to your roof, you need that expert out there to make sure you don’t have damage. And if you do have damage, that he notifies you to let your insurance company know so that you protect your right and you make sure that you can recover financially from these very traumatic events.

Chris: Sure. And that one hits home for a lot of people. We have a lot of tile roofs in Florida, for sure.

Derek: Correct.

Chris: Well, so, obviously, buildings with tile roofs. But what are some other building types that may be more likely to have damage?

Derek: Well, here’s the thing. The most critical buildings, I would say, wind speed at ground level may be 70 miles an hour. But if you have a building that’s 30 stories up in the air, the wind speed and uplift pressures increase incrementally substantially once you get up, you know, above 30-40 feet. So any building that is obviously not at ground level but is a high-rise building is more susceptible to damage.

A building that’s closer to the ocean, or east of U.S. 1 in the HVHZ, which is the High-Velocity Hurricane Zone, wind zones which are, you know, anywhere between 130 to 150 mile per hour 3-second gust, so close to the coast, and then obviously buildings that are of some age, which perhaps were not built according to the most stringent Dade County codes, I would say, need extra special attention, because, you know, these buildings are more susceptible to that type of damage. And, obviously, a lot of these buildings have older windows, which obviously are also much more susceptible to being affected by the wind.

So, again, it’s a high-rise building, it’s a building that’s closer to the coast, and I would say it’s a building that’s, you know, not a new building. I would say a building that’s 10 years plus in age I would pay extra special attention to. But that doesn’t mean you should not focus on newer buildings as well, because we’ve seen extensive damage to those as well across the state.

Chris: Sure. Yep, we’ve seen it, as you say, more in the older buildings, but in a storm like Irma, both new and old affected pretty dramatically.

Derek: Right. I think one thing that I mentioned early on in the discussion is what you’re looking to have at the end of the day is you’re looking to have a baseline condition of your property. And if you can do that prior to any storm event, you have some baseline condition of your property to make a comparison to. So you have an expert come out, document the condition, document any moisture or any issues you’ve had, and really help you address any risky or areas that look like they could, you know, be adversely affected by a storm.

Once you’ve taken care of that and you have your baseline condition, then that expert you worked with has something to compare it to after the event, and that will really go a long way to help you recover quickly, financially, and physically from that type of event. The more you can do prior to the storm, the easier it will be after the storm.

Not to mention that you also have a roofing warranty in place. So you also have to find out what that manufacturer requires you to do to maintain your roof and also what they require you to do after a storm event. Maybe you need to contact the manufacturer. You need to make sure that you fulfill whatever contractual obligations you have so that you don’t influence negatively the outcome or the recovery that you could have done a better job being more proactive with.

Chris: Sure, and that’s great advice for every aspect of the building envelope. Building that baseline before the storm so that you’ve got something to compare to afterwards.

Derek: Correct.

Chris: Thanks for your time today, Derek. I’m sure our listeners gained a lot of insight. I know I did, on your advice on roof assessments. If you’d like to speak with Derek, you can call him at 877-740-9990. I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. GCI Consultants looks forward to bringing you continued interesting topics and guests to continue to talk about matters that affect the building envelope. Thank you, and I look forward to talking with you again soon on the “Everything Building Envelope” podcast series. For now, this is Chris Matthews signing off.

Construction Project Management

Donald Kipnis – Development Service Solutions, LLC

  • Broken by design
  • Benefits to professional owner/Association representation and project management
  • Replacing a contractor
  • Bidding versus Best Value – is low bid the lowest cost???
  • Contractor Insurance & bonding

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

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Paul: Hello everyone. Welcome back to the “Everything Building Envelope podcast.” This is your host Paul Beers with GCI Consultants. And I’m really excited about today’s guest, an old friend, Donald Kipnis. Welcome Donald.

Donald: Thank you Paul.

Paul: So Donald is the founder and CEO of Development Service Solutions, LLC, which otherwise known as DSS. I’ve worked with Donald a lot. I’ve known him for quite a long time. We’ve worked together on construction projects, existing buildings, things like that. Donald, maybe tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

Donald: Sure Paul. I have degrees in both science and building construction. My father was a mechanical engineer. And in 1982 I went to work with a local general contractor, and ended up purchasing the company in an LBO, a leveraged buyout in 1985. My partner and I ran the company until 2004 when I joined a local developer. After about two and a half years of facing the onset of a downward development cycle I started my consulting company, Development Service Solutions, with the goal of representing developers, hoteliers, and anyone else who would have me. I ran solo for many years but in the past three years have doubled the size of the company each year and I’m happy to say we’re now 16 people as of last week. Over half of our team has master’s degrees in architecture, but we actually don’t design. Two of our team members are attorneys but we don’t practice law. Two are general contractors but we don’t act as a contractor. And we actually have one individual who has a master’s degree in Real Estate Development, but we don’t develop properties, we support developers. And we have one professional quantity surveyor, and yes, we do verify values and quantity.

So now we’re in a position where we see projects from beginning to end through the entire acquisition, design, procurement, contracting, and development construction cycle and delivery, which puts us in a position to give specific input at different phases of the project and bring value to our clients.

Paul: And what are some of the kinds of projects that you are… You can name them or not, however you choose. What are some of the kind of projects that you’ve been working on the last few years?

Donald: We have been fortunate to work on projects such as The Surf Club and Surfside, The Carlton [SP] Betsy hotel on Ocean Drive. We were the owners rep for 1111 Lincoln Road, the Clevelander Hotel. We are currently on Ransom Everglades doing their STEM and La Brezza building. We’re working on the Cisneros property, which are luxury homes on Douglas Road. We’re in Wynnewood doing Wynnewood Park. We recently finished Eve, which is 195 units, a multi-family 62,000 feet of black box retail, and we did that job together. We’re on Lincoln Road doing retail, we finished 530 Lincoln Road. We’re on 800 Lincoln Road and we’re looking at Park Central Hotel, we’re working on that, which is a redevelopment of four buildings as well as the South Seas Hotel on 17th in Collins.

Paul: Yeah. So, I can see how things have been growing rapidly and doubling in size. Sounds like you’re keeping very busy. Let’s dive into the project management, and actually owner representation and… What would you call…I mean, if you were gonna give somebody the elevator pitch, what would you call it what you do?

Donald: We represent our clients’ best interests by adding value through proper design, procurement, and execution of their development project.

Paul: So let’s dive into the design part. I know we’ve talked about this before and one of your really cool terms I think you say it, things are broken by design. Can you talk about that a little?

Donald: Sure. This is something I’m passionate about because there’s so many places that go wrong in the development process. So we look at it as either broken in the design on the plans or broken in the relations between the parties, which is typically done by choosing the wrong team or in the contract documents themselves. And I’ll give examples of each of it. So something’s broken by design, a good example was 1111 Lincoln Road where a structural engineer came into town, was used to designing bridges and highly complex structures, made a structure that cost twice as much money as what we know how to build here, which is a reinforced concrete post-tension structure. When we converted the hybrid steel design to a typical structure for South Florida, reinforced concrete post-tension, we saved 50% on the cost of the building and several months on the timeline. But that’s a simple broken by design. And it can happen in air conditioning systems where we just had a very simple design [inaudible 00:06:12] with an HVAC engineer on a 36-storey building and he was putting in hot water for the cooling tower. And we said, “Well, why don’t you just use heat strips and heat pumps for cooling?” And we changed the design and saved a lot of money. So even if you low bid something which is designed extensively, it costs more than negotiating something which is designed efficiently and effectively. And that is a concept that we have been able to successfully communicate to our clients and we have many more case studies of that.

When we look at broken by contract it might be that there isn’t a proper termination clause dealing with a contractor or that the owner and its design agreements didn’t get their copyright use of the plans done properly in that provision and the architect owns the sole use of the design that the developer or owner has paid for. So that can create problems for the developer along the lines.

Paul: And then, how about the relationships?

Donald: So there are two ways to build. I think in the governmental section we find that everything is low bid and it becomes adversarial, and a contractor has to make his money through claims and change orders. And that’s the antithesis of what we wanna do. We try to build teams of people that wanna work together, that respect each other and respect the value of the other party. And by doing that, it’s a much more effective job. It typically cost less, you get better quality work, and it’s delivered faster with less claim.

Paul: So Donald, I think back to one of the early jobs that you and I worked in with DSS, Yacht Harbor in Coconut Grove. And that was way over-designed and you had a lot of things that you’re talking about. You went in and really brilliantly I think and got things sorted out. We were fortunate enough to be involved as well. And, you know, we took basically a project that was over budget and needed another money, and all this kind of stuff, and got it all sorted out and did a really good job with it. Brought contractors in, everybody was on the same team, you know, with relationships, all that. And ultimately they were delivered a really quality project that was affordable. You know, a really good example of all this.

Donald: Yeah, that was great for everyone involved. All of the relationships are intact with the team that was there. We were able to simply bipartite what was a contract with a major sub working under the contractor into two separate contracts with a cooperation provision in the contracts. So it was multiple prime with the association. And the initial general contractor removed his 10% mark-up on a $2 million subcontract and that simple mechanism of having two contracts saved the association $200,000. So it’s just knowing what to do and when to do it that results in great efficiencies.

Paul: And it worked beautifully.

Donald: It really worked well there. To say that there were no change orders, wouldn’t be the truth, but everything was managed well. In the rebid of that job we saved over a million dollars, and by the end of the job the condominium association was able to replace a million dollars of glass windows that they had never intended to replace. So that was a really wonderful outcome for the home owners who ultimately, you know, paid the bills for these condominium repairs.

Paul: So let’s talk a little bit how independent third party representation, the benefits that are passed on the professional owners or associations and project management.

Donald: We’re able to bundle the skills of analyzing logistics, business terms of contracts, scope of work, schedule analysis, how to optimize schedules, alternate schedules, scrutinize design, and create competitive RFPs, Request For Proposal for pricing, for design, for construction, all under one operation so that our clients get best value and the best product in the end. And we’ve done that by having expertise in our company. We have development expertise that runs pro-formas for financial analysis. I do contracts and design. We can take a simple item. I’m gonna give an example. And the project is Mirador on West Avenue where they designed a rail repair, a supplemental railing system that the fire department was requiring the association to put in their building; 4 stairwells 16 stories each. The architect designed them, it went out to competitive bid, and it came in at $135,000. Our team looked at that rail design and I gave them a challenge. I said, “How many ways can you design that railing in 10 minutes, that is more effective, more efficient than the way it’s designed now?” In 10 minutes we had about 6 different design, we picked a hybrid of a couple of them, we put it out to bid, and at the end of the day saved $60,000 and the building department and the fire department accepted the repair.

Paul: That’s some significant dollars.

Donald: For a simple item. And there are hundreds of these items throughout a job, hundreds.

Paul: Let’s dive into some of these things that you just mentioned, logistics. So what are some logistical type of things that you can do to benefit owners and associations?

Donald: It’s critical for an owner and a contractor and the design professionals to understand how a job is going to get built. Typically, we prepare phased logistic plans that show the use of sidewalks, easements, how cranes come on and off of the job, which towers or areas are repaired first, second, civil engineering work, underground work, so that there is a clear roadmap, a visual roadmap of how the project’s going to be built. Many times we do that ourselves and put it out in the RFP package to get feedback from the contractors and that help guide them to be more efficient in their pricing of the project, and that lowers the price and makes a job be delivered faster.

Paul: And time of course is…not only is it money, but if the building’s occupied then the disruption is shorter. So, you know, it’s a big benefit to the users or occupants to the building as well.

Donald: Well, it’s critical if you’re on a drop of balconies in an existing condominium. Now we’re on several Mirador, 9 Island Avenue, or doing Grove Isle, their sculpture decks. We’re out at Key Colony on their pool building or HOA lap pool building. And the residents want us out as fast as possible. So logistics, and manpower, and sequencing of the work is the critical factor in getting in and getting out, understanding it from the onset and managing it, being nimble as things sometimes change is fundamental to one of the aspects of what we do.

Paul: So something that seems kind of innocuous, you talk about contract. What can be done with contracts to help the process?

Donald: Contracts, to me, are like tools in a tool box and if you don’t have the right tools in the tool box you can’t build your project. There are times you need a hammer, there are times you need a screwdriver and there are times you need a razor knife. By understanding contract provisions and how they work and working carefully with the association or developers’ attorney, we craft documents that are very effective for our client that mitigate change orders that only allow the most appropriate types of change orders, not those for coordination that mitigate delay expenses, that allow an owner to make a change of a contractor when necessary and sometimes it’s necessary, or to supplement contractors’ resources. And all of this is very effective when dealing with design professionals and contractors because by it being there in and of itself, it’s a tool. It doesn’t have to be used. Everyone knows the tools that are in the tool box and tend to perform better knowing that they’re there.

Paul: Do you happen to see the same correctable issues happening over and over?

Donald: We do. And they can happen in a contract. One we see is ownership of documents, the other that we see is improper terminations for convenience clauses. We see owners allowing contractors to build on a schedule of values rather by invoices which are carefully checked. We see waterproofing detail problems, we see issues where someone just wants to clean a surface instead of take it down to, you know, the proper concrete level of finish. It’s remarkable how the same mistakes are made again and again, remarkable.

Paul: Yeah. And you’re the one that you’ve mentioned a couple times, ownership of documents. I mean, to me… So I don’t necessarily live in that world as much as you do, but to me that just seems like a no-brainer. I mean, if I’m paying for it, I don’t think actually that somebody else should own it.

Donald: Right, but the reason that architects wanna own it, is if they get in a dispute with their clients they have leverage. There should at least be co-ownership and to the extent that an architect is paid or an engineer that the party paying should have the right to use those documents and should collect them, should collect electronic and paper files, and when they finish the design-development phase, they should own all of those electric documents and have them in their possession.

Paul: Yep, makes perfect sense. So when things maybe aren’t going as well as we might like, maybe coming into an existing project that’s already got some players in place. But what happens when you have to replace a contractor? I mean, well, I guess we should ask this first. Do you ever have to replace contractors, and if yes, what happens?

Donald: Well, we’ve actually replaced the… We’ve administered the replacement of contractors, of engineers, of architects, because the reality is it doesn’t always work out perfectly. And I believe a lot of it is cooked into the structure initially of the deal. That’s back to broken by design. But when we’re brought on a job that is in trouble we look for the reasons why it’s in trouble and try to address what is dysfunctional. If a contract has proper provisions in it, it makes it easier to address either supplementing or changing an architect, engineer, or a contract. If it doesn’t, if there isn’t a proper termination for convenience, if the owner doesn’t own their documents, if they’ve overpaid and are upside down, if the job wasn’t bonded with payment and performance bonds, you have to get a lot more creative and it really depends on the exact circumstances to craft an appropriate solution. And it takes working with the developer or the ownership entity, their construction attorney and ourselves, and candidly whoever party, whichever party or parties is troubling on the job, you end up working with them also.

Paul: So, are there alternatives to replacing a contractor of, you know…I mean, can these things sometimes be worked out or maybe sometimes you just can’t replace them.

Donald: Yes. We just started a project where we actually supplemented the contractor’s staff with appropriate staff so that the contractor could perform better. And the contractor recognized the issue but was unable to cure it themselves and welcomed the help.

Paul: Are you seeing more issues like that now that things are so busy in South Florida?

Donald: I think there will be more issues on a sub-contractor level than on a contractor level. And that sub-contractor default insurance and payment and performance bonds at both the contractor and sub-contractor level are critical for a developer. A developer can’t have SDI insurance on a contractor level, but they can add payment and performance bonds. And for the cost which may be a point of the construction cost or a half a point of the development cost, it is money well spent.

Paul: Are you seeing contractors or subs these days that are having labor issues as far as, you know, not just body counts, but getting qualified folks to do what needs to be done?

Donald: Yeah. Miami is still growing. And even though projects like Brickell City Center are finished and the condominium boom has somewhat cooled off, the multi-family is booming, there’s retail being built, and other types of projects, the remediation business has taken off like wildfire. So there’s always, I believe in Miami, going to be a stress on the available resources.

Paul: And hurricane Irma, there’s a lot of work going on as a result of that. And I was in the Florida Keys last week and roofing contractor… Well, I was looking into a project that had some damage and the owner was telling me that the roofing contractor wasn’t having the best of days. He spilled something in the parking lot, had to clean it up, and then he said he had to call the police to have half of his workforce removed. So, obviously, there’s…in that business, have a really hard time getting people. You know, they’re doing body counts and it’s not working out so well.

Donald: Oh I agree. When we did work for Andrew, which is many years ago, we brought in roofers from Georgia, and we bought the roofing products directly by the semi-load and was able to solve the issue. That way we bought labor separately from materials, we join them together, everything came from out of state. So there are resourceful ways to deal with it. We are having issues. We’re on several projects and simply having issues getting them adjusted.

Paul: Yeah. That’s a whole another topic with the property insurers and how they’re handling claims which the reputation is not good at this point. And I think it’s deserved. Let’s talk about bidding versus best value. Is the low bid necessarily the lowest cost?

Donald: Well, a great example was earlier in this podcast when I talked about the railing. The key to getting best value is to have the best design, and the best design really isn’t done in a vacuum, it’s done collectively through having an open mind and looking at different alternatives to solve the same problem. We’re doing a job on [inaudible 00:24:50] with architect Hanukah, [SP] and they showed a very large cantilever, and we had a discussion about it, and they came up with a very creative solution by hiding some columns in sculpture and in the store front, which effectively made the cantilever go away structurally, but looked like a cantilever. And it’s based on having these great conversations with creative people, identifying the issue, and then solving the problem on paper. Now when that goes out to bid, it will be best value, had it have been designed as originally conceived if no one said anything. Even though it was a low bid, it would have cost easily a million dollars more. But they…architect Hanukah was so great to work with to solve the problem, it was effortless. Design’s critical.

Paul: Yeah. So, let’s walk through that a little bit. So what got you to that point? You know, when were you guys involved and, you know, what stage was the project? So how did that opportunity present itself, I guess is what I’m trying to say?

Donald: We were hired at the onset which is actually the best time to engage us, and during Schematic design while we were running with the developer financial pro-formas, we were looking at floor plans, elevations, and sections of the building. When we looked at the elevation with a particular section… And remember, this is very preliminary, they’re stick drawings. We noticed this significant cantilever, raised the issue, and architect Hanukah came out with a design solution right away that was accepted by the owner. It became a feature.

Paul: At what point would it have been too late had you not been involved as early?

Donald: I think once you start the construction documents, it’s too late to change design. Value analysis or value engineering needs to take place first in schematic design and at the latest during design development, because when you’re in CDs you’re gonna be changed in the knobs on the cabinet doors or the cabinets, but you’re not gonna be making fundamental changes to the engineering of a structure or the systems of the building. It’s too late.

Paul: Well, so many times you see these projects though where, you know, they go to the whole design phase, they get into, you know, bidding, or final pricing, or whatever. Then they’ve suddenly back in the value engineering because, you know, they’ve blown the budget.

Donald: Well, you know, that’s interesting because we believe there are two ways to approach a project. You either build to a design, you budget to the design, or you design to a budget. Now our clients like a project that’s designed to budget because they have to financially work. So we establish a realistic budget that works with their pro-forma, with their investment and yield, and we validate that budget for with a schematic RFC. We actually take the dream plans and put them out to several contractors who respond, and as a result the budget is validated, adjusted if necessary, a contractor is selected out of that group and engaged under a pre-construction agreement to work to keep the project in budget, with your dollars well spent. And typically, when that contractor builds the project in budget, the owner is rebated the pre-construction fees that it was initially charged during the pre-construction phase by the contractor. It’s a win-win.

Paul: Yeah, because, you know…I mean, my spin on this is that after the fact…nothing good happens with after the fact value engineering. We work on projects early on and you get to the end and all of a sudden they’re taking out, say the fluid, applying waterproofing on the exterior walls that they’re gonna save $80,000. And they make…generally make stupid decisions in the quest to save money and, you know, and probably make the project viable with the resources that they have.

Donald: Yeah, but what happens is to make that repair later on could be $500,000.

Paul: No, no. That’s exactly right. I mean, that’s pay me now or pay me a lot more later. I think is basically what that boils down to.

Donald: Yes, so our goal is to design to budget. That is the song we sing and the life we live and we are pleased to bring that message to everyone and participate in it.

Paul: So let’s talk a little bit more about contractor and, you know, big, big issue these days on sites and… Well, it’s always been, but even still I think it probably gets more and more difficult sometimes is insurance and bonding. What’s going on with that these days?

Donald: So an owner needs to protect themselves through insurance policies and there are two basic areas to deal with. One are payment and performance bonds, which is the world of surety and that protects the title of the property, that’s the payment bond, and the performance bond insures the terms and conditions of the contract. And the surety which is an insurance company of type is essentially guaranteeing that it will finish the job on behalf of the contractor if the contractor fails, if the contractor is declared in default. So obviously, the default language in a contract is critical and works hand in glove with having a performance bond. The insurance for a project covers multiple layers, the owner’s liability, the contractor’s liability, the design professionals, need both, general liability access, and professional liability, you can get what are called Wrap policies, they’re expensive, that cover everyone. I don’t recommend a Wrap worker comp policies, but we’ve found that Wrap general liability policies called OCIPs, an Owner Controlled Insurance Program, is very effective in saving money and mitigating liability for an owner. And it provides in many cases a 10-year tail-end covered for an owner, which is a great feature. So we wanna make sure that there is automobile insurance by the contractor and the sub, and that the waiver of subrogation which is a simple concept is implemented throughout the levels of the project, benefit of the owner.

Paul: OCIP is something that I see a lot of times and I involve an expert witness and whatnot, the OCIP guy shows up and he’s always the big player because he seems like he’s representing most of the people in the room if there’s a lot of parties. So it helps the owner obviously stabilize their risks. Does it help the contractor and the subs as well?

Donald: Candidly, it’s somewhat of a pain for the contractor because it requires them to administer with an OCIP administrator who typically works for the party that sold the OCIP program to the owner like Wells Fargo, for example, might sell a Zurich policy and they have an administrator, but the contractor has to help administer it. So contractors think it’s a little bit of a pain, but on the other hand it protects the contractor because by contract, the owner is saying that they’re taking on the liability…

Paul: To me that seems like a win.

Donald: That’s a win. And I think it’s a little bit a pain to get out of a lot of liability for a contractor and for the enrolled sub-contractors. It’s a win for them too. And the quid pro quo is that the contractor and the subcontractors give back money, and because they’re buying liability insurance in little pieces, their rate is higher than the owner buying it collectively as a big purchase, and the owner saves money, the premium is lower, and they get better coverage. They get Wrapped coverage.

Paul: So speaking of wins, you know, we look at everything we’ve talked about today and I don’t…it’s a really interesting and good way to approach and to look at projects. I know, I’ve been impressed and a fan of what you’re doing for quite a while, and, you know, getting everything kind of all under one roof and having, you know, a team that can address all the issues, not just some of them, that’s where the problems happen, I think is, obviously, you know, you’ve demonstrated the benefit of that.

Donald: Well, thank you Paul. We’ve spent many years growing together in this industry and we all bring in valuable knowledge to our client with the goal of bringing extra value to the work that we perform to the services we provide.

Paul: And it’s fun being involved with a good team. It really is. If people wanna learn about Development Service Solutions, where do they find that?

Donald: We have a website, it’s or they can actually call me on my cell phone. Dare I give my cell phone number?

Paul: Oh yeah.

Donald: 786-201-2870. And we’d be happy to have a conversation or to meet and discuss what we do and how we do it and how we can apply it to your project and your success.

Paul: Great. Well, really interesting conversation Donald. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom with the listeners today.

Donald: All right, thank you Paul. And candidly, we are passionate about what we do. We love what we do. And so, you know, getting paid for it is almost like icing on the cake because every project we’re involved in is fascinating, it’s rewarding, we enjoy working with a variety of different people. It’s just a lot of fun doing that, and need I say more.

Paul: No. No, and that’s really great. It’s really great. So that’s what makes it fun, is actually as you say being passionate about it and not just going through the motions and obviously that passion, you know, shows through on the other side with the customer and the project team getting best value.

So I guess that concludes this episode. I thank everyone for listening to “Everything Building Envelope.” Please tell your friends about it at and also listen on iTunes or Stitcher. Before I say goodbye, the opportunity to give a small plug for my company, GCI Consultants. I’ve got a bunch of new videos out regarding hurricane Irma, water infiltration, and things like that. So you can find them on our website, and also on YouTube, the GCI Consultants YouTube channel. So check them out.

And with that, until next time, this is Paul Beers saying so long.

Building Envelope Architects

Brian Neumann – Neumann Sloat Arnold Architects

  • About Brian
  • Building Envelope Architecture
  • Materials Used
  • New Technologies
  • Building Systems

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

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Paul: Welcome everyone to the Everything Building Envelope podcast, and we’ve got a really interesting guest today, Brian Neumann. Brian is a building envelope architect, so that’s obviously near and dear to all of our hearts. Brian is with Neumann Sloat Arnold Architects in the San Francisco Bay Area. Welcome, Brian.

Brian: Thank you.

Paul: So Brian, before we get into our topic and our discussion, could you please tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and your firm and how you got into the business of being a building envelope architect?

Brian: Well, like you said, I am a building envelope architect, I started off as a traditional, conventional architect doing design work in firms, and when I moved to San Francisco, I had a couple of classmates that got jobs in this building envelope firm. And I used to call over there and pick their brains, and I thought it was really interesting that there was a firm out there that just did the detailing and just did construction documents.

And eventually, I needed to find another job. My design career kinda fizzled out a little bit because of the economy. And I went back to the building envelope firm and I told them I needed a job, and they hired me on the spot. And they said, “Well, you’re a design architect, we’ll give you two, three years max.

Well, 20 some odd years later, I’m still doing it because I just think it’s a really fascinating field and I really believe that it matters. And as architects, I think, you know, it’s really important for us to be able to kinda walk that building science path as much as the design path, and so I found that it’s a very rewarding thing for us to do.

As architects, we get involved in lots of different jobs. I think that’s one of the more rewarding things I find is that you can get into lots and lots of jobs. You can affect many, many projects. You’re not stuck on one big design project for two, three, four years.

Paul: So does your firm solely do building envelope work or do you do other things as well?

Brian: Well, we’re primarily building envelope architects, so we work with other architects, we work with contractors, we work with homeowners, but we also get involved in historical restoration work. We get involved in construction defect work. We’re expert witnesses. We’ve actually testified in trial.

So anything related to the exterior envelopes of buildings from commercial, multifamily, high rise, from new construction, restorations, additions, remodeling, up to construction defect work and reconstruction projects.

Paul: So from birth to, I was gonna say to death, birth to the finger pointing stage and everything in between?

Brian: Yeah. Pretty much. You got it.

Paul: So what kinda things are you working on these days with materials, methods, those sorts of things? Anything new out there that’s got your interest?

Brian: Well, you know, I think it’s interesting because what I find is that it’s a constantly evolving industry as far as new technologies, new chemistry. I mean, chemistry to me has changed so much of how we do our work.

I remember back when self-adhered membranes came along, and that was like, “Wow. That’s the best thing since sliced bread.” And people were using self-adhered membranes, and you know, then 10 years later, we were watching them fail like crazy.

And I think right now, what we’re seeing is a lot of products, materials, mostly at the chemical level where we’re starting to see different types of sealants, STPEs, silyl terminated polyethers for instance, great materials, you know, silicones. We’re starting to develop silicones that no longer bleed so that you don’t have the staining associated with the silicone sealants.

So, you know, the rain screen applications, those, you know, STPE, fluid applied air barriers. They’re making, you know, silicone air barriers, acrylic air barriers. So, you know, I find that there’s always new things happening, new ways of doing filming, new ways of detailing, and a lot of it is based on, you know, chemistry of these products. You know, what sticks to what? What is compatible with what? What is not compatible with what now?

You know, we’re learning things about how silicones and urethanes affect each other’s cure. So you can actually stop the silicone from curing if you install a urethane joint next to it. You know, things like that.

Paul: So you’re talking about new materials. What’s your tolerance for being the guinea pig? I guess, maybe I would ask it that way.

Brian: Very low. What we tend to do is…there’s certain numbers of contractors that are a little bit more willing to try, willing to experiment. And what we generally do is we’ll try and find projects where we have a very low risk application. We’ve installed new membranes on stem walls and crawl spaces, you know, just to see it go down, see how it reacts, see how it’s detailed. You know, not really hanging your neck out too far because, you know, I do not like to try new stuff.

You know, it needs to have a track record. There’s a lot of products coming from other countries too, though, so, you know, you have to be careful about, you know, a 25 year track record in China, for instance, you know? Does that necessarily equate to the same track record you might have here, you know?

Some of the other things that we see is, has it been used in our region. Certain things don’t react the same way in Seattle as they do in Southeast Florida, you know, the materials, the environment. So it’s also, how much has this product been used in our area?

Paul: Yeah. You know, I feel like the construction industry might be one of the slower to evolve industries. And, you know, you see some of these industries where technology is, you know, growing leaps and bounds and, you know, making things irrelevant and whatnot.

And construction seems like, I mean yeah, we have technology. Everybody’s got an iPad in the field now, and we’re in the cloud and all that kind of stuff. But you don’t see the change as fast. I think part of the reason is it’s the long-term implications. You build a building, and it’s there for a long, long, long, long time.

So you’ve got, not only does it have to…you know, you’ve got the latest and greatest materials. Not only do they gotta stick to things, or not stick to things, whatever their intended, but the durability thing where they’ve gotta last for a long time. And you and I, I know can both reel off a long list of materials that seemed great when they started and, you know, have been colossal failures and cause all kinds of problems going forward.

So that’s something that I agree with you. You gotta be really careful when you’re trying to embrace new things, and I like new things, but not without knowing what’s gonna happen, what the ultimate consequences are with using them.

Brian: Yeah. I worked with a couple of guys, very early in my career. They were very old school. They were, you know, great craftsmen, you know? They were a little older and they would use the most basic materials, building paper, nothing fancy. And they would install things as simply as possible but as well as possible, and it’s still what I believe is the simplest the detail can be, the easier it can be implemented in the field, the more successful it’s going to be.

But what’s happened is now we’re changing into this new realm where, well, you know, if this product will do x, y, and z, let’s use that because then we can do that item here as opposed to three different things. And that’s where we’re starting to see some of the dangers, you know? There’s not like a catch all, the product here is gonna do all of these different things.

So you still have to rely on the guy in the field that’s handling these products, that’s installing them, that’s doing the work. That’s to me where most of the success is actually gonna come from, is the guy doing the work.

Paul: And as you say, the system has gotta be able to overcome user error to some degree. If it’s gotta be installed 100% perfect, it’s just not gonna happen. So one of the things that we really like at our firm these days are fluid applied waterproofing systems because you can really inspect them and see if they were applied right, especially if you’re using different colors and things like that.

As opposed to the sheet goods where, you know, they could not lap them properly or not detail them properly or get damaged after they’ve been on there for a while. So, you know, there are some instances where the new technology is good, but not all.

Brian: And fluid applied has really opened up. They’ve eliminated the sequencing issues. You know, you mentioned, you know, sheet goods. That’s all about sequencing, right? So the fluid applied, I think that’s really enabled a lot more, you know, contractors to come in and use these materials, but not have to worry so much about, you know, the sequencing of it.

You can always come back and add more. You can install windows. You can then come back and do the weather-resistant barrier, you know? And that’s really enabled the contractors to use these products more successfully.

Paul: Yeah, because they sure weren’t doing well with the sheet goods. In our business on the, you know, forensic expert witness side, we’ve probably done a thousand failures of sheet goods. And it’s not the material. It’s always, you know, the way it was applied or the lack of direction, lack of detail, installer error, all that kind of stuff.

Brian: Yeah, exactly.

Paul: How do you give a particular system the best chance of succeeding given the variability of installation? How do you get from, you know, a really good design to actually, you know, getting it installed and having it work? In other words, does that involve…I mean, obviously it involves more than just good details. What’s the sequence it needs to go through to have a successful installation?

Brian: A lot of times… What I like to call them is working meetings where early in the process, you’re sitting down. You might have the architect there, but you also have the contractor and the sub, or multiple subs, and you’re talking about different conditions. You’re looking at different issues on the building, and you’re proposing ways that you would recommend addressing them. You’re talking about, you know, different detailing or different products or different methods of addressing something.

Paul: I’ll tell you one thing that drives me crazy is when you get out in the field, for instance, on a window installation, and the installers have never seen and don’t have the window shop drawings, you know, which are basically what they’re using to build the building, to build that trade with. So frequently, we see that the information does not get disseminated down properly, and that’s where a lot of problems ensue.

Brian: Yeah. I agree. Like drawings. You know, you’ve got guys out in field, and they’re doing work on a certain area and they don’t have a drawing. They don’t have a clue as to what the detail actually looks like. And, you know, the contractor hasn’t provided it to them. You know, they’re out there doing what they always do.

Paul: They ultimately become the designer.

Brian: Yeah. Well, this is how we do it. Well, that’s not how we detailed it.

Paul: I’ve been doing it this way for 20 years, that’s…

Brian: And I’ve never had a problem.

Paul: Right. It’s because they’re long gone before the problems start.

Brian: Yeah.

Paul: You had mentioned rain screens. Are they becoming over-specified, and what do you feel the long-term outlook is with them?

Brian: Well, you know, it’s interesting. That question came up recently. I’m part of an organization, the Sealant, Waterproofing and Restoration Institute. And this is something that one of the contractors raised and said, “You know, what is the deal with rain screens? Every time I turn around there’s another rain screen.” It’s like, you know, is this like green washing? Is this that anything and everything should be a rain screen and that’s the way we’re, you know, gonna be building buildings?

And actually I responded to it because, you know, my feeling is that the concept behind the rain screen is solid. The differential pressure, allowing the drainage plane beyond your cladding system to perform. The part that sorta makes me crazy is there’s still people out there that believe a rain screen is like the slatted wood, and we’ve got some black material behind it which is supposed to act as the weather-resistant barrier and the slatted wood and that’s a rain screen.

And the other bit that I take, you know, sort of offense with is that they’re not necessarily intended to just take in an incredible amount of water. They’re intended to take some water. Five percent is what the Air Barrier Association feels as an open rain screen, if you get 5% of the actual water on the membrane. Five percent is not a lot. That means 95% of the water is not touching the membrane.

And so to me, I think it’s solid science. It comes from Canada. They’ve been doing it for years. That’s kinda where we adopt a lot of our detailing and our standards, is from the Canadian codes. So I think rain screens are great. I think they’re starting to slowly become understood by, you know, the people that are designing and the contractors that are installing them.

The stucco subs. I’ve tried to fight the battle with stucco subs for years. And finally, it’s turned the corner where now the stucco sub says, “I won’t install the stucco without a drainage plane behind it,” you know? And I love it, you know? It’s like, “Finally. We’ve crossed over.”

So I think it’s a good system and I think they are here to stay. I think we’re just gonna learn to build them better and I think we’re gonna continue to develop additional weather-resistant barriers, especially fluid applied barriers.

Paul: Yep. And that’s where, you know, the emerging, improving materials and technologies associated with them can really be a big help. But you know, it’s a market to market thing because in South Florida, if you suddenly started doing rain screens, it would be a dismal failure. And the reason for that is because they don’t do them, so there’s a whole transition of education and how you get, you know, the market comfortable with it.

I remember a job that we did, oh, maybe five years ago, which was a healthcare, an ACLU building, like a five story building. And the architect was from the Midwest and wanted to use a high performance rain screen with eaves cladding. And the contractor, who’s actually from the same part of the Midwest but had a Florida office, argued against it saying, “Nobody knows how to do that down here.”

And the contractor was right. It probably wouldn’t have gone well. So ultimately, they did the block and stucco that they’re so used to doing in Florida. And it’s unfortunate but, you know, a lot of it is just, I think it’s regionally, does the market have the expertise to execute something that takes a little bit more workmanship than say, you know, block and stucco type application?

Brian: Yeah. Well, you touched on a good point in regional changes in how construction is done. We have offices in Oregon and California and we do a lot of work in Hawaii. Those are actually the three states that we’re licensed to be, you know, the architect of record. And you can’t detail buildings the same way you do in the Bay Area as you would in Hawaii for instance.

We’ve done construction defect work in Hawaii where we actually brought our own crew with us because we needed to have the guys that had the experience, that understood what we were doing, why we were doing it, and how we wanted to go about it. We would go over there and we couldn’t work with the guys because they didn’t understand, you know, destructive testing, for instance. It’s like this isn’t demo. This is slowly peeling things apart.

And so you run into that. And so, and you know, it kinda goes back to what I was talking about originally with a working meeting. I really think that as architects, as designers, that we’re the smart guys, right? I want my people to be able to reach out and function with the contractors and subcontractors, in their realm, you know?

If they’re really good at these systems, if they’re really good at running, you know, these products or these materials, and we feel they’re appropriate, then I wanna work with them to help them install their stuff that they’re experienced with as well as they can, you know? Detail it, help them understand that this is the architecture. This is what we’re trying to honor, but we’re gonna use these products that you guys are very familiar with and you’ve used thousands of times.

And I think that’s important because you’re also letting that contractor and letting that subcontractor know that, you know, they’re part of this process, you know? You’re not the designer just telling them, “This is what you’re gonna use.” You’re part of the team and you’re saying, “This is what we anticipate, you know, we’re gonna use here. We’re gonna recommend this there.”

And they often will have good insight, you know? And I wanna hear that. I think the dumbest guy on the job site can actually teach us some of the best lessons.

Paul: Yeah. They live and breathe that everyday, so…

Brian: Exactly.

Paul: …who better than them that should know about that?

Brian: Mm-hmm.

Paul: So as we get into, you know, these newer systems and different types of betterments, I guess I would call them, you know, from an architectural education and design focus, what can be done there to help the winds of change blow a little better?

Brian: You know, this has been a long running issue for me. Depending on what architecture school you go to, you’re gonna get a different version of what it means to be an architect. You don’t actually learn to be an architect until you get out of school.
And what I found is that there’s been an increasing focus on the design aspects and the theoretical aspects of architecture, and this is a broad generalization. There are certainly some schools that do have a good technical focus, but what I think we need to do is we need to start understanding that there’s traditional architectural design and then there’s building technology or building science.

You know, just kinda why is there even building envelope architecture out there? It’s because, you know, we’re specializing. We know have lighting designers and AV guys and color consultants. Well, we’re a waterproofing firm. We’re the building envelope guy and I think the education of the architectural students needs to respond to that.

I think the materiality, the how things are put together and how things are built, that’s a really, really important aspect of what it means to be able to design a building. But in Canada, you do two years of school and you decide to go into design or technology. So I’ve actually hired, you know, a few people from Canada with an architectural technology degree.

And, you know, I think that’s kinda where it’s going. You’re gonna see more and more of that type of architect out there that doesn’t have a design focus.

Paul: So with regards specifically to the building envelope, able to teach anything about that in school? Or is that strictly a field experience acquired type of discipline?

Brian: Well, it kinda goes back to what I was saying. Like because I went to the University of Michigan. We had construction documents. We had materials and methods. So we actually were learning some of that stuff in school.

I was having a conversation with a former dean of Cal Poly out here in San Luis Obispo. We partnered up with Cal Poly to be part of their internship program. And he actually is reengaging with Cal Poly because he feels they’ve gotten too far away from the materiality of architecture. He thinks they’ve gotten into more theory.

Where are you actually gonna teach these kids what materials are? You know, he wants them to be able to pick up a brick and feel a brick and know what a brick is. As opposed to like, you know, how does a brick express itself in my building, you know? Those are the things that he was identifying that he really felt was a problem, you know, that we can’t be all theory. We have to be able to teach these kids the real nuts and bolts of architecture.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. I mean there’s nobody I admire more than a really good designer in an architectural firm. I mean, they come up with these spectacular looking buildings that are form and function, all that kinda stuff. But you gotta be able to build it. And I think that’s probably why firms like yours, and mine, and you mentioned other disciplines, are becoming more and more prevalent because nobody could possibly be an expert at everything.

And, you know, different firms with different focuses, if you get all the right pieces together then, you know, you complete the puzzle, basically.

Brian: Right. And I enjoy that, you know? It’s like you said, there’s some fantastic designers out there. That’s not us, you know? We’re not designers. We’re nuts and bolts guys and we wanna help you realize that vision. And, you know, so that high end residential stuff, I think those are the architects that are actually pushing some of the limits of materials on a certain level, you know?

You can’t do it so easily on a commercial project but, you know, residential stuff? Nobody wants to have a house that looks anything like anybody else’s. And no design architect wants to do, you know, the same house that they’ve done before. So those can be really, really challenging but extremely rewarding.

Paul: Yeah, so pushing the limits, what do you see going on these days with the effects of climate change? How is that affecting designs and applications?

Brian: Well, I think people are starting to…I mean, out here in California, we had years of drought. And then this last winter, we basically had a, you know, the 100 year storms and, you know, we got rid of our drought and we said the drought is over. Well, people were having, you know, leaks that they had long ago forgotten about, you know? It hadn’t leaked. There was five years of drought. And all of a sudden this storm comes along and it’s leaking like crazy.

I think what it’s done is it’s really starting to help people understand that design pressures for windows and cladding systems are important, you know? We’re not just trying to do a three pound window that in this location, it needs to be a six pound window. Do you remember the storm we had last summer…or last winter? “Oh yeah.” Okay. Well, let’s do six pound windows.

So, you know, it helps people understand that things are getting worse, you know, as far as events and they’re starting to see it in their building, you know, where they’ve never had a leak here. And lo and behold it’s leaking now because that storm was worse than anything they’ve ever seen.

Paul: It definitely raises the awareness level. So as we’re recording this, we had just gone through all these hurricanes this season. And so, what we’re seeing is…of course, you got the people that were affected by the storm, but you got a whole other group that right after Hurricane Irma hit, we got all these proposals returned to us, you know, signed and accepted. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, you know?

They were like, “Oh boy. We need to, you know, make sure our envelope is in good shape, you know, on new construction projects. And so the awareness level, well, it’s just like the economy. It rises and falls, so you know, people are very aware right now. Don’t have any storms for a few years, let’s see how that lasts. I’m sure it will probably wane.

So we were talking before we actually started recording the podcast, we’re talking about warranties, manufacturer’s warranties. And, you know, that’s always a big deal that you gotta get…you know, there’s always warranty requirements in the construction documents and getting the, you know, good warranty and what do you have to do and all that. What’s your view of warranties in general and what are you seeing out there? The good, the bad, and the ugly, I guess I would say.

Brian: Well, I guess the bottom line is I’m not a big warranty guy. I’m not sure I think warranties are doing anything but protecting the manufacturer. And, you know, conversations with manufacturers off the record, they’ll admit it. They’ll just say, “Yeah. I know. That’s purely to help us get outta, you know, making [inaudible 00:23:54].

And you get a lot of the industry that wants to, you know…companies are starting to develop a broad range of products. They want them to be used together. They try and sell you as a single source warranty, when the reality is they might have two or three pieces to that assembly that are what you would say below the level of quality that you want, or is substandard, or is not a detail that you can get behind.

So what I find is that we work really hard with manufacturers to try and get them to honor the use of their product in a certain assembly that may not be perfectly aligned with what their warranty documents say. For instance, there’s some companies that won’t warranty one of their own products when it’s applied to another one of their own products. I point that out to contractors, to owners, to people, say, you know, “What are you actually trying to buy with this system?”

So my focus has often been to pick and choose the best products across a number of different companies and do, you know, the best detailing you can do and get these contractors, these manufacturers to see it, to bless it, to understand that, “Okay. This is where I’m using your material. Can I get a letter saying you’re okay with me, you know, putting your material in between these two products?”

And it’s surprising. A lot of manufacturers will allow you to do that. And they will write a letter and say, “Yeah. We’ll warranty that.” So that’s where I think you can kinda play around a little bit with it. But ultimately, I am so not interested in hearing about warranties, you know?

Paul: I agree completely. Do it right, you know? When you’re into the warranty claim stage, you’ve missed. You really need to…if you’re getting into, you know, finger pointing, then somebody hasn’t done something right along the way.

Brian: Yeah. And a lot of these warranties are not even…you can’t even comply with them. You know, I’ve looked at, you know, some window manufacturers’ warranties and they talk about, well, you have to test a certain number of windows, you know, 10% of the windows have to be installed and they have to be tested within two weeks of installation. And, you know, it has to have the protocols submitted within this time frame and they have to be approved.

You know, and it’s like, who’s ever gonna be able to even comply with that? Nobody, you know? So just by putting that document out there. You’re selling all these windows. Not one of them is warrantied because nobody has been able to comply with your warranty documents ever, so it’s a joke.

Paul: Yeah. I think people tend to put way too much importance on getting warranty. I mean, yes. You should have warranties. You know, if you have, say, silicone sealants and there’s a product failure, well, of course. You should have a warranty on that.

But these system warranties, there’s almost always an out if something does happen. And a lot of times, there’s an out because, you know, something wasn’t done right or whatever, and there should be an out. But, you know, even when things are done correctly… I mean, I try to think back of actually having a warranty claim and having it honored, and I don’t know if I can think of that ever happening from where I sit.

Brian: Yeah. They’re the toughest cases. If you’ve got a manufacturer issue and it comes down to a warranty fight, those are incredibly expensive cases, you know? And usually, you’re never gonna win, you know? Because, you know, you can imagine what does that open up?

If you, you know, won a settlement against a manufacturer based on some sort of warranty item, you’ve just opened the floodgates. You know, they’re never gonna let that happen because then they’ve exposed themselves to all kinds of cases.

Paul: Right. It’s not necessarily about right and wrong. There’s a lot of other factors that obviously come into play. So we’ve been talking about change and new things and what not. So, you know, another thing is the workforce is evolving, both, you know, workforce, both in the design side of things and on the construction side. So what’s your view working with, you know, the younger, the millennial workers that are probably comprising a big part of the workforce now?

Brian: Well, I think it’s interesting because this has been an ongoing discussion. Earlier, you said like well, this is how we’ve always done it. Well, these kids are walking into this industry that’s been dominated by those kinds of attitudes like this is the way we’ve always done it.

And there are certain amounts of technology that are starting to be used, you know? You mentioned the iPads on job sites and things like that. And what I found is that, you know… We hire a lot of millennials. They, you know, get them right out of school. And what I found is that they look at some of the methods that we use to do our jobs and wonder, “Why are we not taking advantage of technology?”

One of my most obvious examples is somebody is showing something on a computer screen, and I say, “Oh, hey. Can I see that?” And they turn their computer screen towards me. And I’m like, “No, no. I mean, print it for me.” And they give me this quizzical look of like, “Why would you wanna print it? It’s right there,” you know? And you start to realize, it’s like, you know, these guys, they take advantage of the technology that’s available to them.

The other part that I found is that you need to let them know that you’re hearing them. So when we’re doing a certain, you know…say we’re doing a project and we’re doing a construction defect case and we’ve got this massive database. The way we do photo logging, the way we, you know, log our issues, they’ll sometimes say, “You know, it would be easier if we did x, y, and z and took advantage of this software, whatever.”

You have to be able to sell, you know, say, “Okay. Do it. I hear you. Go ahead.” Let them be effective in their positions because if they’re not affecting change, if they’re not being heard, they’re gone, you know? These kids wanna change the world. They wanna feel like they’re part of that, and if you don’t empower them and sort of let them know that you’re hearing them and actually let them see you making changes based on their input, they’re not interested, you know?

So it’s been an interesting sort of process to get to know some of these kids. I mean, I’m hiring kids that are my kids’ age and, you know, and so I know how these kids grew up, you know? I know what they were like. I know they were getting their trophies for participation.

And there’s still a little bit of that, you know, kinda leftover mentality, and you have to understand it. But I also think that they’re, you know, a fascinating group of kids, you know? They offer a lot and their ability to use technology, their willingness to, you know, take things on, try something new is commendable. And I try and empower them to help me learn and help me grow.

Paul: I love millennials, personally, for all the reasons you just said. I mean, they’re so smart when it comes to the technology and, you know, the systems and doing things better. How do you feel about their, the word would be patience, with putting their time in to get the necessary experience as opposed to, you know, figuring out how to do this, that, or the other thing?

Brian: You know, I think that’s a really good point. I think that’s a really good point because they want to affect immediate change. And I think those of us that have been around for a while recognize that this is a long path, that this takes a lot of experience, a lot of, you know, trial and error, hits and misses. You have to, you know, do a lot of projects over many years in order to really develop the skill set, I think, that makes you successful.

I mean, I remember when I was in school, they used to say that architects didn’t become productive until they were in their mid 40s or early 50s. It’s because it takes that long to develop all those skills and then have those skills start to, you know, interact and use them and integrate those abilities.

And so for me, I try and make sure that my people see where they are in the path. And I also make sure that they’re aware of, that they’re never gonna be stuck doing, say one job. They do not want to be pigeon-holed. They wanna continually be offered new opportunities, get to job sites, do something that they’ve never done before.

And it’s impressive because so many of them are like yes people. You offer them to, you know, do some new testing or surveying on a high rise or something like that, and they are so ready to jump on it, you know? They’re so ready to do something new and to try something new.

And so I find that it’s really important to make sure that they see that path, that you’re constantly introducing new things to them but help them see that this is a long-term path. It’s a process where you can’t just jump forward. It takes time.

And sometimes, you do that by putting them into a situation where you know they’re probably not going to succeed. It’s going to be a little bit above their head and they’re gonna flounder around a little bit. But my job is to, you know, kinda catch them before they completely fall and then make sure that we’re still going in the right direction. But you kinda let them see that they’re not quite ready but, you know, this is where we wanna get you.

So I think it’s important to let them see kinda the projection of their career and that it’s not an instant overnight thing because it’s not like that for a lot of industries. I think that’s particular to, you know, things like architecture, and it takes a long time, you know?

You don’t just pop out with those skills, you know? You come out of school with an architecture degree, but that doesn’t mean you know the first thing about what it means to be in an office, or be on a job site, or work with a contractor, you know? So I…

Paul: All true. All true.

Brian: …think that’s something I do with them.

Paul: You just can’t teach experience. I guess that’s the bottom line. I mean as much as… I wish we could because some of our young, really bright people, that’s all they’re lacking, and they can figure anything out. But you can’t just throw them out there and expect them to do everything. You gotta put them in a chance to ultimately succeed or help them, you know, get through something so that ultimately, you know, they learn and they move on.

And I think it’s a great point about varying the experience and not having them stuck doing one thing because that’s not what they signed up for, particularly in our industry.

Brian: Right. I just hired a woman that just got into a design firm. They did winery buildings, great projects, and her boss told her, said, “You know, you’ll never go to the job site. I’m the only one that goes to job sites. And, you know, she looked at him and a month later, she laughed. She was like, “Forget it. I didn’t sign up to sit behind a desk, you know?”

So I hired her, and she’s out surveying high rises and doing water testing and crawling around building sites and she loves it, you know?

Paul: Yeah. That’s great. That’s really great. So Brian, really great discussion. Thank you so much for taking the time to come on. I know that the listeners are gonna really get a lot of good wisdom out of this. And I really appreciate, as I say, coming on today.

Brian: No, thank you. My pleasure.

Paul: If anybody wants to learn more about you or your firm, where would they look?

Brian: Well, the website is Neumann Sloat, And they can always reach me at

Paul: Great, great. So once again, thanks for coming on and really enjoyed the discussion.

Brian: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

Paul: Thank you everyone for listening to the Everything Building Envelope podcast. Please tell your friends and colleagues if you enjoyed it. And if you’d like to subscribe, you can do that through iTunes, Android outlets such as Stitcher. So until next time, this is Paul Beers saying so long.

Kryton Smart Concrete Technology

Alain Lok – Kryton International Inc.

  • About Kryton International
  • Krystol Technology
  • Krystol Internal Membrane
  • Crystalline Admixture
  • Waterproofing Concrete
  • Membrane Systems
  • Warranties
  • Product Explanations

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

*** Subscribe to the show and leave us a Review on ITunes!


Paul: Hello everyone. Welcome to the “Everything Building Envelope” podcast. Our guest today is Alain Lok with Kryton International. And they make an admixture for waterproofing concrete. So, welcome, Alain.

Alain: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me, Paul.

Paul: My pleasure. So, excited to hear about concrete waterproofing. So could you maybe tell us a little bit about yourself and also Kryton?

Alain: Yes, I’d be happy to. My name is Alain Lok, I’m the senior business manager for the eastern U.S. So I cover the eastern portion of the country from Maine all the way down to Florida. And I manage our… and support our distribution network and I conduct a lot of presentations and similar things like this podcast.

Paul: So, tell us a little bit about Kryton.

Alain: Well, Kryton specializes in building dry and durable concrete structures using smart concrete technology. One of which is a crystalline waterproofing called Krystol technology. And since ’73… Oh, you know, we are now a 44-year-old company, still family owned. We are in over 50 countries with over 100 distributors worldwide. And we hail out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Paul: Wow. So, and you have a crystalline material or product. Would you call it a product or a material?

Alain: It’s a material.

Paul: So you have a crystalline material and you call it Krystol, K-R-Y-S-T-O-L, technology. So, can you tell us what that is and how it works?

Alain: Sure. Well, Krystol technology…it’s a trademark term to describe the crystalline technology. And, you know, it goes in with the products that we have. So it’s added directly to the concrete mix or applied to the surface of concrete. And once added, the crystal chemically reacts with water and unhydrated cement particles to form insoluble, needle-shaped crystals.

And these crystals fill capillary pores and micro cracks in the concrete to block pathways for water and waterborne contaminants. As well, the crystal will continue to give the concrete structure a self-sealing ability. So, if water is reintroduced through a rise in hydrostatic pressure or through hairline crack or through voids in concrete, the crystals will initiate further crystallization to ensure, you know, essentially permanent waterproof protection. And this happens for the life of the concrete.

Paul: That’s interesting. So you said that it can be an admixture or it can be surface-applied?

Alain: Yes. One of the easiest ways, if you like, to apply or add the products to the concrete is by an admixture. And that admixture is called Krystol Internal Membrane or KIM Admixture, as it’s known in the market.

Paul: So, what are the applications for it, I mean, obviously, I mean, so what kind of uses would it be for? It sounds like it will be slab on grade. Would it be below grade, what other or anything else?

Alain: Right. Well, the Krystol technology and, you know, that includes the KIM admixture. You know, it can be used in really all types of concrete structures, whether it’s below grade, above grade, such as the below-grade parking, basement, sewage, at treatment plant, water containment structures of all types such as swimming pools, foundations. We also do a lot of dams, you know, tunnels and infrastructure projects. So, anything concrete, you can actually use the crystal technology to waterproof it.

Paul: So, if you’re using it as an admixture, do you recommend also surface applying it or is that more of a remedial application?

Alain: Yeah, that would be more of a remedial. Now, if you were to use the KIM admixture, you can use that as the sole and primary waterproofing system. So, I mean, yes, you can use it along with a traditional membrane system or use it as the sole waterproofing system on its own.

Paul: So, what are the main advantages of the Krystol technology over, say, a membrane or a coding system?

Alain: Sure. Well, the typical benefits of the crystal technology over traditional membrane systems are, you know, they provide a more of a permanent and reliable water-proofing solution. It helps to greatly shorten the construction schedule by reducing and eliminating the need to apply the membrane system. It also helps to reduce initial and long-term waterproofing cost by greatly reducing or, you know, reducing the risk for callback at future leaks and remediation work. And, as well, the self-sealing ability does also help to prevent, you know, future repairs and other types of issues that you may get with, you know, deteriorated or leaky membrane systems.

Paul: I know with below grade in particular, and maybe on grade and other applications that, a lot of users like to get a warranty with that. Is there a warranty issued here? Is there different options or how does that work?

Alain: Yes. Now, the KIM admixture does provide a 25-year limited product warranty. And that’s essentially, you know, tops and unmatched with, you know, in the industry for crystalline waterproofing product. So that is a warranty that guarantees that the product is, you know, free of defects and doesn’t perform as stated, we, Kryton, we’ll provide free repair materials for the duration of the 25-year period.

We also offer a 10-year labor and material warranty, and we call it the Krystol Assurance Program or KAP. And what that entails is very common, you know, with other systems that you… if there’s any issues, both labor and material is provided to remediate any leaks and damp spots within the structure.

Paul: So, I’m sure it doesn’t happen very often, but if you do have to go in and do remediation, how does that work? Do you have to dig out or is there a way to do it from the inside working out?

Alain: Yeah. So, you know, on the chance that you have to, you know, repair concrete or do remediation, we do have a line of products that can be applied either on the positive or the negative side. And it’s actually different from, you know, other repair systems like injection or, you know, grout injection where you use PDU or epoxy. We have a system that’s called the leak repair system. And that utilizes a hydraulic plug, a crystalline grout and a surface treatment. And those three work together.

Paul: I don’t know what a hydraulic plug is.

Alain: Oh, so the hydraulic plug is like a… it’s a very fast-drying cement.

Paul: Can you describe what is KIM admixture and how it works?

Alain: Sure. Now, KIM admixture is a hydrophilic crystalline admixture used to create permanently waterproof concrete. Now, KIM lowers the permeability of concrete and is used in place of externally-applied waterproofing membranes. So by stopping the transmission of water through concrete, KIM adds durability and longevity to concrete by protecting it against chemical attack and erosion of reinforcing steel.

Now, the KIM admixture contains the Krystol technology and it’s added to concrete at the ready mix batching plant. And it’s simply added together with the other ingredient and it’s mixed and then you would simply, you know, go on site and then pour the concrete, consolidate, vibrate, finish and cure as per normal ACI concreting guidelines, nothing more and nothing less.

And how it works is, it will now turn the concrete into the waterproofing barrier. So, compared to a membrane system where you’re simply, what you’re doing is you’re applying a barrier between the water or the water table and the concrete, and relying on a thin layer of protection. You’re now, with the KIM admixture, turning the concrete into the waterproofing barrier. So if you have, let’s say, if you have an eight-inch wall, you now have eight inches of protection. If you have a two-foot slab, you now have two feet of waterproofing protection versus relying on a sheet membrane.

Paul: You were saying that if concrete, you know, if it develops cracks that the admixture would self-heal so to speak, I don’t know if that’s the right terminology for it.

Alain: Yes. So there is the…one of the main features of the crystal technology and in turn, you know, with the KIM admixture is the self-sealing. And what that is, it’s an autogenous feature where once water comes in contact with the crystals, the crystals will reactivate and seal up any hairline cracks up to 0.5 millimeters in width. As well, if you have any damp spots, you know, dampness which is quite common, those damp spots will simply dry up on their own through the self-healing feature. It’s really a great way to avoid having to go in and, you know, fix every single leaking crack and damp spot that you would get in concrete.

Paul: Where has this been used?

Alain: Well, the KIM admixture… I didn’t mention earlier but, you know, we, Kryton actually invented the crystalline admixture back in 1980. And since then, it’s been used all over the world, you know, waterproofing many deep hole foundations, you know, tunnels, dams, and other types of major infrastructure projects. And especially in the East Coast, we have hundreds of projects, you know, from Boston down to New York City to the D.C. metro area, and then down into Florida. So again, it’s been used in multiple applications for well over three decades.

Paul: How does it work in areas like Florida where the water table is very close to the surface?

Alain: Well, the KIM admixture is actually very effective in places like Florida where you, you know, you dig down a few feet and hit the water table, or there’s a very high water table. Really, that’s really the, you know, the strength, the robustness of the KIM admixture is that it is used in place of membrane system to provide that reliable waterproofing protection, whether you have a few feet, whether you are a few feet in the water table or you’re, you know, you’re dozens of feet into the water table.

And we have many examples where we have situations where it’s very high hydrostatic pressure, very high water table, many feet below sea where, you know, the product has shown to be very, very reliable, and essentially keep the water out of the structure.

Paul: Are there any restrictions with saltwater intrusion?

Alain: No. It actually performs very well in salt water, as well when there are, you know, as you know, with water is a carrier of many aggressive chemicals. You know, whether we’re looking at chlorides or sulfate, the water….the crystal technology, you know, keeps the water at bay and it’s actually able to resist hydrostatic pressure up to 460 feet, backed up with third-party testing.

Paul: Yes. Seems like since it’s part of the concrete that it would… that would be a strength of the system.

Alain: Yeah, yeah, and, you know, in addition, because you mentioned, you know, salt water, the KIM admixture, it has been tested in tidal condition where there’s salt water and it does show to be highly effective at preventing corrosion. There’s actually a solicited study, 10 years, through the University of Hawaii, where they tested various corrosion inhibitors along with our admixture and [inaudible 00:13:32] products. And, you know, in a nutshell, they did conclude that the addition of the KIM admixture was very effective at preventing corrosion. And again, this is a 10-year study that was unsolicited.

Paul: Has it been used in the high rise buildings in coastal areas for the problem with rebar corrosion and concrete spalling?

Alain: Yes, yes. Yes, it definitely has, and again we have hundreds of examples, you know, not just in the U.S. but in North America and globally. And again, you know, with the ability for it to resist high hydrostatic pressure and in turn, preventing chemicals and salt water from getting into the concrete, it’s really a great way to prevent corrosion in, you know, high rise foundation. And as well, the ability of the KIM to produce simply higher quality tighter concrete, you know, your risk of spalling and honeycombing is reduced. Of course, you know, spalling and honeycombing is also relied upon, you know, good concrete practices like proper finishing and curing.

Paul: Yeah, makes sense. So, how’s the KIM admixture different from other crystalline admixtures?

Alain: Yes that’s a great question. Now, I think the first thing to note is that not all crystalline technology, not all crystalline products are the same. You know, the first factor to really be aware of is that the crystalline technologies are chemically different. For example, our Krystol technology is based on a reaction with water and unhydrated cement. And we’re actually very unique in the industry, in that we’re the only company with the crystalline technology that reacts with water and unhydrated cement. Whereas, there will be other systems where it’s available, you know, right on their technical data sheet that their crystals form through a reaction with free lime and concrete, you know, free lime being a byproduct of hydration.

So what you’re getting is, you’re getting different types of crystals. You know, essentially, physically, they’re very different. Ours is very long and needle-like. And they’re purely hydrophilic, so they use water, they like water to grow and to reactivate, in turn growing more crystals. And that really, you know, lends to the self-healing feature of the crystal technology. So, chemically, there is a difference. And then second, the chemical difference leads to a difference in performance. Anyway, we’re… you know, I guess we will get into, you know, what’s better, what’s worse, but, you know, do look at the different performance values of individual products.

Paul: Seems like, you know, being compatible with moisture as opposed to most things are incompatible with it would be a big plus for the KIM admixture.

Alain: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s a good point, you know, because some other materials would be, you know, densifier or hydrophobic pore blockers, those are better used in, you know, above grade conditions or where there’s very little hydrostatic pressure because those… like, for example, hydrophobic materials, those, they would plug up the capillaries in the concrete but, you know, when you get very high hydrostatic pressure, the water just passes through… eventually, pass through those materials. With crystalline being…you know, with Krystol technology being hydrophilic, if water tries to get through, it actually uses up that water to fill up any available voids in the concrete.

Paul: Interesting.

Alain: And once the crystals are formed in the concrete, it really, it’s permanent and it becomes part of the concrete matrix. So it doesn’t deteriorate over time. And we always say, “If the concrete is sound and standing, the crystals will remain in the concrete, protecting the concrete.”

Paul: What other types of products do you offer?

Alain: Yes. So, in addition to the KIM admixture, which is used only for new concrete, new construction, we do have, you know, a very comprehensive product line where you can…where there’s a topical product called Krystol T1, T2. So it’s a surface treatment that is applied to both new or existing concrete. And there’s also a repair system called Leak Repair System, where it’s used to remediate leaks, and cracks, and damp spots, and leaking joints in concrete. And we also have a system for jointing, for construction joints, preplanned and unintended cold joints as well as crack control joints. In addition, we have products for pipe penetration and tie hole and as well a sealer called Hydropel. So, you know, there’s a very comprehensive system that will allow you to not just tank a structure but to go in afterwards if there’s an issue to remediate and rehabilitate.

Paul: So basically, you have everything you need concrete, related to concrete and ceiling?

Alain: That’s correct. That’s correct.

Paul: So, do you have a final message for the waterproofing and construction industry?

Alain: Well, the final message is, you know, there’s lots of options on the market. You know, with a lot of designers, you know, whether you’re an architect or an engineer, there are options available. But that’s…and at the same time, with the crystal technology, you know, it’s something that’s been around now for well over four decades. A proven technology that’s been used in all types of challenging conditions, you know, not just in Florida, but throughout the U.S. and globally.

But to really consider, you know, the overall pros and cons of, you know, whatever type of system that you are looking to specify and introduce to the end user, to the owner/developer. So, you know, if you’re… if people are looking for, you know, a quicker, easier more permanent method to waterproof concrete, you know, consider the use of crystalline waterproofing. You know, it’s something that you cannot…you may necessarily not be able to be to see and feel as you get with a traditional membrane system. But it’s actually, it’s something that is highly beneficial to the concrete and will add, you know, many years to the durability and service life of the structures that we are all a part of building.

Paul: Did I hear you say before also that there are cost advantages to using the product?

Alain: Yes. So, you know, with the use of the KIM admixture over your traditional membrane system, the cost advantage is, number one, you are able to eliminate, you know, the need to apply the product, you know, the labor required. So, you know, the cost of the KIM admixture, you’re simply just paying for the material. There’s no added cost for labor. It also helps to save and shave the construction period. So if you can imagine, there’s no need for surface prep and obviously, you know, you don’t need to apply the product. And that really can, if you’re dealing with a large foundation, can shave days if not weeks off the construction schedule. And that all, you know, can all translate into money saved for everyone.

Paul: So, if people wanna find out more about Kryton and the products offerings, how would they go about doing that?

Alain: Well, we have a really great support structure. You can definitely contact the headquarters at We also have a toll-free number. As well, we have a…in Florida, we have an exclusive distributor, and they’re called ABC Supply and they’re more than happy to assist with inquiry and provide sales and technical support.

Paul: So Alain, really good information, appreciate you sharing it with the listeners. And thank you very much for taking the time to come on “Everything Building Envelope” podcast today.

Alain: You’re very welcome. And I’d like to thank you for taking the time, Paul. And we’re very grateful to be part of your podcast here. You know, hopefully, there’s an opportunity to work with you and your customers in the near future.

Paul: Yeah. So, thanks again. So, this concludes another episode of the “Everything Building Envelope” podcast. Please, tell your friends and colleagues about it. And you can access it through our website, or through iTunes or Android sources as well such as So, until next time, this is Paul Beers saying, so long.

Energy Efficient Fiberglass Windows & Doors

Michael Bousfield – Cascadia Windows and Doors

  • About Cascadia Windows and Doors
  • Cascadia’s Experience in the Building Envelope
  • Making Buildings more Energy Conserving
  • Heat Gain & Loss in the Window Assembly
  • Product Strength & Longevity
  • 3 Categories of Products
  • Read our Article Here

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

*** Subscribe to the show and leave us a Review on ITunes!

Paul: Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Everything Building Envelop Podcast. And our guest today is Michael Bousfield. He’s the Technical Director for Cascadia Windows and Doors, welcome Michael.

Michael: Thank you, Paul, happy to be a part of this.

Paul: Great. So, maybe we could start out, you could tell the listeners a little bit about yourself, and then about Cascadia windows and doors.

Michael: Sure. Thank you. Yeah, I’m the Technical Director of Cascadia, and basically, that means I get to split my time between speaking to the industry about our technology and also helping with product development and engineering in our own operations. But Cascadia as a whole is a manufacturer with an actual…a story behind why we’re a manufacturer because we didn’t choose manufacturing by choice, we chose it out of necessity.

Our company was started by a group of building science engineers about 10 years ago, and at that time the…just before the company began, these building science engineers had been operating in Vancouver, British Columbia and in the Pacific Northwest of North America, helping the industry in that region for about the last 15 years up until that date, overcome what had become known as Vancouver’s leaky condo era. A period of time where the design and construction of the exterior of buildings and building envelopes had been had been found to have many, many premature moisture-related failures.

And this was a terrible time for that local industry, although it is now referred to in the past tense. It has happily been overcome, these engineers were looking forward and saying, “Well, since this problem has been virtually solved and overcome, what are we gonna do with our employee base that has gone from 6 to over 100? What’s the next problem that we can solve them industry?” And around about 2008, it became evident to them that that was going to become an attention on energy conservation in buildings.

So they’re kind of thinking of it big picture, how could they leverage their experience and knowledge with building envelopes to assist with helping buildings become more energy conserving? And they figured that, “Well, for a building envelopes, by far the weakest link is the heat loss or the heat gain, and that is through window assemblies.” So they looked around and said, “Well, how can we improve window assembly?” And they found that aluminum was a very highly conductive material, it couldn’t help that very much, and vinyl had some structural limitations, and fiberglass became the material that had the structural characteristics necessary for large and commercial windows, and the thermal performance characteristics necessary to help them achieve their goal of energy conservation, but nobody was manufacturing it.

Then that’s where we circled around to Cascadia was born out of a necessity by being building science engineers, to want to be able to use the products which we now produce. They had to start this engineering company to create the windows they wanted to use.

Paul: So Cascadia’s been basically in business for about 10 years now, is that what you said?

Michael: Yes, that correct. We’ve been able to grow every year, and take on as new partners in addition to the original founders.

Paul: So today 10 years later, how are things going as far as the markets that you’re serving and what not?

Michael: Well, 10 years ago, the year that we started, and I actually it was 2008, and if you remember the construction industry in 2008 turning 2009, what an amazing roaring economic time to start a construction company. Well, not really.

Paul: Yeah, that was probably about the worst time you could have started.

Michael: It turned out to be the very, very worst time, and it was a painful start, especially as we reinvested any money we made into…back into our products, back into our processes. But now we have grown about 29 to 30% every year compounded annually, and we are now serving markets that stretch from Alaska down to San Diego, California and everywhere on the West Coast in between.

We’ve also been much more recently, expanding our attention and our offerings to the New York area and the Greater Eastern Seaboard area, and other areas on the East Coast, as well as eastward across Canada including Alberta into the Prairie Provinces.

Paul: So as your product, would you consider to be commercial or residential? And what kind of buildings does it typically go into?

Michael: Yeah. That’s a good question. The intent of our product is to be what we refer to as commercial grade. And when I use a term like that, I’m speaking to the product’s strengths, its physical strength, its longevity of its service life, and also its physical test ratings. All would be well summarized this commercial grade, but it’s used in both commercial construction and in residential construction.

The major types of projects that we see over and over again are kind of fall into three categories. Number one, high-end customs homes for owners who wanna build something that’s very durable and energy conserving. Number two, rehabilitation and retrofit projects, building that have had let’s say, moisture damage to the building envelope, have pushed the building owners to want to repair or update their building, and they want to do this retrofit with something that has greater durability and great water tightness. And then the third type of buildings is, commercial and institutional buildings, buildings where long-term value is really key for the group that’s building it, like schools and hospitals.

Pau: When an owner is making a decision to use your product, what other types of products are they typically considering?

Michael: Well, our fiberglass product, that question is actually different for us than most other fiberglass window manufacturers. For us, the other products that the owner is typically considering is aluminum windows. And mostly, that’s because there is either a building code limits or just a general reluctance for widespread use of combustible windows and composite windows in non-combustible and commercial construction. Typically, combustible or composite windows haven’t been used in large-scale commercial construction just because of a perception that they’re not strong enough.

So, we’re generally used where you want a strong commercial grade window, but you also want a window that’s incredibly thermally efficient. And up until our product line started to come into its own, those have been almost exclusively separate in its design criteria. You could either get commercial grade or thermally efficient but not both together.

Paul: And you use the word combustible. Could you explain that a little more please, what the context was there?

Michael: Yeah. So, generally speaking when you’re dealing with a large-scale commercial building you are of course dealing with a concrete or a steel building, which is a not…a building required to be built of non-combustible construction. And as you probably know, most windows are combustible, PVC windows, fiberglass windows, and wood windows are combustible. And thermally broken aluminum windows are combustible as well, but because of the prevalence of the aluminum coming outside, they are perceived rightly or wrongly, to be windows that are more suitable for non-combustible construction.

But from a scientific point of view, there really aren’t meaningful differences. So as wider spread use of combustible windows and all types of windows, they’re using commercial construction, North America will tend to catch up with the rest of the world in that respect of using composite windows, where there’s the biggest advantage for that.

Paul: So why would an owner select a fiberglass window over an aluminum window?

Michael: So an owner is going to get the same necessary strength out of either a choice of an aluminum window or certain fiberglass windows. And in the context, I’ll include our product into it, and fiberglass window, they’re stronger enough. But the differences that they would be choosing between, for fiberglass window, you’re looking at somewhere between a 50% to 100% improvement in the thermal efficiency of the fiberglass product over the aluminum product. And the price will be very, very close to the same. In some cases the fiberglass window will be marginally more, in other cases, it might even be marginally less.

Paul: Do you find that price is ultimately the deciding factor, or do you see customers looking at the positive attributes or the pluses and minuses when they’re making decisions?

Michael: Yeah. You’re right, that the decision is usually more complicated for purchasing a fiberglass window than simply is at the lowest price. And definitely for our product, they are not the cheapest product allowed by a law to fill a hole in a wall. They are definitely not that. Although their price competitively in many other choices that don’t perform as well as them.

So to circle back and truly answer your question, sometimes the decision simply comes down to price, but typically especially for projects where the designer has sought us out on behalf of his or her client, the decision is based around the pluses and minuses of the performance, and longevity, and environmental profile, not simply the lowest cost.

Paul: So there’s a standard called…we called in the window industry, we called NAFS but the North American Fenestration Standard and it’s a code required window test standard for North America. Can you describe what that standard is, and how Cascadia assured its customers that their window will comply with the standards?

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. The last part of that is easier so I’ll address the first part of it mainly. So the North American Fenestration Standard or we often NAFS, is standard that collects together a group of physical tests that are intended, that a manufacturer would subject their window to these group of tests to show that all aspects of its physical performance are adequate and are tested, and have gained a rating that can then be used to compare whether or not the window’s suitable for a particular building, a particular exposure, a particular wind speed.

So that group of tests that the standard requires includes strength tasks. So it’s a structural strength, and a water penetration resistance test, and an air leakage resistance test. Additional tests which are usually referred to as, kind of secondary tests compared to those also include testing for resistance to burglary, and the operation of force necessary to you know, work the windows hardware, that cannot be too difficult or too tight. And then depending on the type of window, there are further tests to ensure durability, certain products require cycling.

And the result of this testing, it’s battery of tests that the single window or door would be subject to, results in a window or door getting what is called a performance grade, which is a summary value that is described in the standard, and the performance grade indicates that of course, all the tests have been completed and passed, and second, the performance grade is actually a number that refers to the design wind pressure for a building.

So that number if it is a low number, would indicate that the design wind pressures at that window could withstand and succeed in all those tests, is a lower number, which would equate to making that window or door suitable for use on a maybe a single family home or a low-rise building that has lower wind loads. And then if it has a very high number as a result of this testing, then it would indicate that it’s a stronger window, it’s a more water-tight window and it is more suitable for applications on buildings of greater exposure, taller buildings, buildings in areas of particularly high wind speeds, things like this.

So finally the last part of what you asked me, how does Cascadia make sure that we’re complying with this, and offering our customers well-tested windows? We engage with intra-tech testing, and other independent test plans to make sure that our products are fully tested, and we’ve developed a library of different tests that have been done over time to ensure that when our customers order costumed products from us, and perhaps, that’s all products, they’re all made to order, that whatever it can figuration in size and shape of products they choose has been covered in one or more of our past tests.

Now, in addition to doing these physical test, Cascadia takes one step further, and this has nothing to do with code compliance. This is because we think it’s very good idea, and we want to build up a sleep at night factor for our owners and our shareholders, and that is that we conduct in-house testing on a regular basis, virtually a daily basis, which is water penetration resistance testing in the same way that the laboratories conduct water penetration resistance testing. And we do that with a large wall, which sprays water and provide air pressure on window samples. And the products that we conduct these regular testing on in-house, are actually our customer’s products.

We’ve developed a practice of how to use our in-house testing equipment to non-destructively test the products that are coming off of the assembly line. So rather than just testing one particular specimen that for example, the best technician put together and inspected, instead of testing just one specimen on our daily testing, we’re testing our actual customer’s product. Up to 10% of them that are coming off of our production line, and they’ll end up getting a water-tested before they go on to our customers.
Paul: That’s really good. So what happens if one of them leaks? Well, what do you guys do at that point?

Michael: Yeah, that’s super rare, but it would be irrational for me to say that they never leak. So when a product leaks or otherwise exhibit some sort of result that wouldn’t…that’s not a perfect pass of our own testing, the really wonderful diagnostic and training tool, as I’m sure you can appreciate a window is constructed of more components than simply four pieces of frame and a piece of glass. There’s a lot of accessories, there’s a lot of joineries, there’s a lot of hardware involved, so we’re able to take the production staff members and the supervisors that are related to the area in our production that assemble the component that resulted in the leak, and that’s very easy to diagnose. It’s very easy to observe a leak and know what caused it.

And then we can bring them over to it and say, “Hey, look this is the result we’ve just got testing this morning. Here, take this window, take apart a little bit, diagnose it, and then give it back to the testing worker, get them to re-test it, and check the other work we’ve done in that batch.” And so in that way, we’re allowed to combine training and quality control in kind of the same practice.

Paul: Good stuff. I wanna go back to NAFS for just a second just for the benefit of listeners that may not be familiar with it. So North-American Fenestration Standard, North-American means Canada and the US, correct?

Michael: Yeah.

Paul: Yeah. So that’s something that just for those that are listening, it hasn’t always been like that, and I can’t remember if it was 10, 15 years ago when they first started producing the Canadian’s window organization and the Americans combined. So I think that made things a lot easier to cross borders obviously, by using the same standard.

The other advantage of NAFS, and you described the ratings that they have, and the numbers and whatnot, is that, everybody’s basically using the same standard for testing, and it gives an opportunity to compare products, making sure basically their apples are apples when you’re comparing two products, if you had one of your products that had a higher rating than a competitor’s, you could differentiate that just by the ratings. Did I explain that well? I’m not sure if I did.

Michael: Yes. That is good and actually… Paul, I think like to leave your listeners with just one more comment, kind of a little pearl of wisdom related to selecting windows and understanding how a manufacturer makes a choice for trade-offs when they’re conducting NAFS testing on their product. And that is that, because the NAFS testing includes a structural test which is performed by applying air pressure, basically wind to the outside of the window in both inward and the outward direction, because every window has its own physical limits, the strength of the frame, strength but glass, and the strength of the hardware that keeps it shut, regardless of what the weak point is, there will be a weak point, and it means the trade-off that must be decided upon by the manufacturer is the size of the product to be tested.

That if you have a large product, therefore when you add up the amount of pounds per square foot of air pressure, you have a higher amount of pressure overall because you have a bigger product. And why the size of the product is so critically important is because the NAFS standard allows a manufacturer to build a product that is the same size or smaller than the NAFS test but not bigger. You can test…you can build what you test or you can build more conservatively, but you cannot extrapolate results. And both height and width are independently restricted.

So if a manufacturer has a product that they want to claim a very high test rating on, then it makes sense for that manufacturer the choose the smallest allowable sample with which to perform the test. However, if the manufacturer wants to be able to legally and properly spell, and have a tested product that is a large product that will enable them to sell to many customers who might want to a larger window, whether it’s an open window or a picture window or whatever, logically a larger test sample is a more versatile test. It will cover more future orders for different sizes of that same product type. But the larger tests will result in a lower pressure.

So the nugget of wisdom that the potential buyer or the specifier needs to recall is that, for your particular project, for your particular home or school or whatever building you’re working on, the fact that a manufacturer has a high pressure, a high rating in a test doesn’t necessarily mean that they can produce your windows at that test pressure. They may have done a test or a very small window to create a very good result, but in fact, it may mean either not have tested on larger windows, or they might have testing on larger windows, which has a much, much lower rating.

So you simply ask, don’t be super suspicious or negative to your subconscious supplier, but definitely ask. And if they don’t have a test or if they don’t have at test at the necessary rating to build that larger window, to be the pressures that your particular project requires, then that’s just because physics got in the way, and that product line may not be the part of point suitable for your project.

Paul: So if somebody asked the question about size, what would a manufacturer do to evidence what they did test that?

Michael: Yeah, that manufacturer and ideally speaking, should spend that inquiry customer, that professional a test report from an independent test lab, and right on the front cover, that test support, there will be the performance grade, which I mentioned before, is it is a summary value indicating with all the testing was done, and the wind pressure at which the product survived, where the certain number of pounds per square feet.

So you’ll have performance grade with that number illustrated as a Performance Grade 30 or PG30 for example, indicating that the product can survive up to 30 pounds per square foot of weight pressure. And then right up to that number, there will be a five test with dimensions. And those dimensions are limits. It means that that test is relevant for that type of product built up to the size and not bigger.

Paul: So if the dimension’s just to make up numbers, where…and we’ll use inches here, 48 inches by 48 inches, which is 16 square feet, if a manufacturer then wanted to sell a window that say, 36 inches by 60 inches, which is actually slower in square footage, 15 square feet, what I heard you just say, they could not do that because the height exceeded the tested height, the 60 inches.

Michael: Yes, it’s correct. Even though your mathematics looking at the overall square footage and therefore, the overall area the pressure’s applied to, it’s less square footage, those dimensions are independently restricted, and cannot, you combined them for square footage in order to interpolate. The logic behind doing this is that, let’s say that you take an operable window, whether that a sliding window or a casement window, and you picture the hardware and the locking points that are necessary to keep that window shut in a storm, that hardware components in your example, it would be a 48 inch component in the first dimension you gave, and then the next scenario you set at 60 inch dimension, and that may be the same component that’s used on the same window product, but now it’s having to create locking over a 60-inch dimension, not just a 36, sorry a 48 inch dimension. As a result of that, the physics are different, the forces are different. And whether or not the window is capable of being built at price is not the point, the point is that the test does not permit you to exceed the measurement.

Paul: Because you don’t know how it’s doing until you test it?

Michael: Correct. That’s the logic of this data. Now, a lot of companies will say that they can get engineering to do that interpolation or extrapolation, but that’s not entirely correct. Engineering had a limited role to play in compliance with the NAFS Test Standard. And usually, engineering is limited to the design of the frame components that would be in the center of an overall window perimeter frame.

Let’s say for example, that you have a casement and a fixed window, and you will mold them together or couple them together in the field when you install them, that connection, that frame component that therefore goes to the middle of your window opening, that can be engineered utilizing generally accepted engineering practices, and that’s something that the text standard allows as long as those components have also been subject to all the rest of the testing. But in terms of interpolating or extrapolating size, no, it’s quite explicit about that.

Paul: Yeah. And I’m glad to hear that because it wasn’t always like that. The word I remember is comparative analysis, and they would use the area dimensions to qualify different products, which really gave an awful lot of latitude, and as you just skillfully explained, it doesn’t always work.

Michael: Yes, you’re absolutely correct. Yeah. And in fact, it’s an aspect of the industry that is at such a detailed level that the enforcement of the standard, and the respect of that particular aspect of the standards, those limits, that’s something that has not always been easily and fully enforced or even understood, both on the building design professional level and the building official level, the authorities. But as everybody becomes more educated and more practiced by using and applying the current version of the standard, hopefully, the industry both comes up together.

From a manufacturer standpoint who invests a lot of money and a lot of research time and attention to making sure our products are fully in compliant, we have in the past been irritated to see other companies, you might almost describe it as “get away with” supplying products which are not as fully tested as the product that we would propose and compete with them on.

Paul: Yeah. Well, there’s always that element of the market, looking for the cheapest price they can find, and that’s probably what that caters to.

Michael: Yes, it’s true.

Paul: So I’m assuming, I mean assuming, I know Cascadia obviously is not the only fiberglass window manufacturer. How are Cascadia fiberglass windows different from other fiberglass windows?

Michael: Yeah. That’s a good question, but the first I’ll touch on the similarities. Fiberglass was created as a window frame material over 30 years ago in order to solve compromises. And it’s actually probably the newest of the mainstream when the frame materials. Let’s say that the other three are wood, an aluminum, and PVC.

And wood, aluminum, and PVC had some historical compromises, durability and maintenance for wood, thermal performance and condensations problems for aluminum, strength and dimensional stability and restrictions on large sizes for PVC. So fiberglass was introduced to the window frame material to combine strength similar to aluminum, and thermal performance as good or better than PVC in a window frame material that basically solves compromises.

So in that way, our fiberglass windows are similar to pretty much all fiberglass windows, having the basic characteristics that they cannot rot because they’re not organic, they cannot rust because they’re not metal, and they have a very, very low coefficient of thermal expansion and contraction, which means they won’t cause their own components to experience fatigue over time, the same way that a plastic one would.

However, that’s where the differences between our windows and other fiberglass windows kinda end. Other fiberglass windows have been designed to be suited to residential applications, and the sizes and the environmental and physical loads that are all typical of residential applications. And when I say that, I mean houses and multifamily building that are low rise. But are windows, even though they are used in some of those types of products, have always been designed to be commercial grade.

And when I say that, I mean that they collected characteristics of being of higher strength, I mean engineering and testing point of view, having higher test ratings, which means they’re more appropriate for exposure in high wind and storm areas, and on tall buildings, and their lifespan and the longevity of all the components down to even the material with which the hardware is made out of and generally being stainless steel, all of these components combined together are designed to be commercial grade for strength, and longevity and exposure.

Paul: So commercial grade windows obviously have higher performance criteria structurally and rain-water penetration and whatnot. So how does Cascadia or how did Cascadia design their windows to meet these higher ratings?

Michael: Yeah. That’s a complicated question. How do we design a window to meet higher ratings and to deserve the term commercial grade? And I should point out that that terminology that I’m using when I’m saying commercial grade, that’s not a defined term in the industry, that’s just a summery term that I’m using to apply to those criteria of strength and longevity, but how do we design for that?

Well, we start by having our technical team come from…mostly from our founders and also from some fenestration specialists that have worked in windows all their life. The technical team, in summary, has a strong building science background, and part of that is from pretty much growing up, our skills and experience in a situation where our city and our region in North America was experiencing a leaking building crisis for years, and years, and years.

So we understand both the importance and the detailed level physics behind making buildings and the product in buildings very, very watertight and having multiple lines of defense against water. So having a team that has a background in making buildings, in general, have great water penetration resistance and that experience including the interfaces between different products, different membrane different fields within a building itself, when you have that experience and you understand the physics behind it, you can then actually apply that at the product level as opposed to the assembly level. And in that way, you’ve been able to make sure that we’ve applied our first principles thinking to the water penetration resistance of our products. Essentially that means having multiple seals, that means meaning having meaningful drainage and pressure equalization existing between fields within, and a window that opens and closes.

And after all of those engineering principles have been applied and they result in a product that been built and have it test, we further ensure that our windows are designed to meet these ratings by testing in-house every day. We’re testing between 5% to 10% of all the windows we actually produce, and we continuously prove to ourselves that the testing success that we got in a laboratory once every few years is not just a one-off success that the best technician in the factory was able to achieve, but in complete contrast to that, the results are proven every day in the normal course of production across multiple shifts.

And so from both an engineering standpoint and an in-house regular testing standpoint, we assure our customers of those high water penetration resistance ratings, and that aspect of our NAFS compliance are in particular.

Paul: So that addresses a big issue I have with window testing and certification, in that, it’s not always repeatable in the field. I know that sometimes you can get the perfect test in the lab and get your rating and then they’ll start building windows installing them and lo and behold, it doesn’t seem the pain at the same way in the field. So I think it’s really good to hear what you guys are doing, and I wish more would do. I know of the manufacturers do test products on the line and whatnot, but it’s a problem with that we see with water leakage, and that products don’t always perform up to snuff with what their rate, how they were certified what they’re rated for.

Michael: It’s true actually. And it’s interesting to hear you comment about the differences between a company’s lab testing and the question that you experienced during your professional practice in the field. And I actually come from the building science consulting steel myself before I joined Cascadia as a manufacturer, and I too was involved in actually performing water penetration resistant tests on construction sites that involved both walls and windows. So I understand that it’s very, very different to see an installed window that’s a production line product being tested in the field compared to what the laboratory says you should experience.

One of the thing that has influenced our decision to do this optional, so not code required in-health testing that I was describing earlier, is that in our home market, which is bank Vancouver and the Pacific North America, the leaky condo crisis that I referred to earlier where there were many premature building failures or building envelope failures due to moisture index [SP], caused a hypersensitivity in the industry to water index [SP] rightly. So, and the result of that hypersensitivity has been the ongoing normal practice of rigorous water penetration resistance testing on construction sites. And pretty much any construction site of a commercial building that’s greater than a, you know, let’s say larger than a bank or a restaurant, and most multifamily residential building that are, you know, four stories and higher, water penetration resistant testing could be conducted on any project, but it is routine to have it on every project that’s bigger in scope than what I just described. And that’s not the practice in all regions of North America.

Paul: So Michael, what kind of warranties are available with the Cascadia windows?

Michael: Right. So Cascadia as windows and doors are warranted for all of their fiberglass frame components for 20 years, and their hardware and glass components for 10 years. And the interesting thing about our warranty compared to some other warranties is that ours is a product warranty and it’s not proper a bunch of exclusions that are designed to kind of negate the warranty and obligations under it. If you look at some warranties and this is just a caution to potential buyers not, not a slight against any other manufacturer, some warranties are limited where if a residential owner sells their house the warranty concludes with their ownership, it doesn’t pass on to the buyer. Differently as well some warranties are different for commercial applications and installation where there are hundreds of windows compared to a single-family homeowner.

Our warranty is the same for all products in all applications, and it doesn’t matter if you sell your house, change the ownership, change the use of the building, the product is the product and therefore it carries the warranty.

Paul: Where we’re talking a little bit before we start the podcast about Hurricane Irma, and we’ve learned some warranty lessons since then. We had a project in Florida that had some issues with the roof, and we asked the manufacturer, well, the roof had some up left issues. We asked the manufacturer to come and take a look at it, and they refused to come. We asked them why the refusal and they produced their warranty that said that the warranty is void for any winds that are higher than 55 miles an hour, which was really sleazy. I think since they’re selling roofs in hurricane-prone areas, with the design pressures are way, way higher. But the lesson learned is, read the warranty folks, read it because just because you get some says warranty, it doesn’t mean you’re getting much.

Michael: Yeah. And you know some warranty documents, they can look through, they can have a long time attached to them, but they also have a lot of exclusions that exempt the manufacturer from their obligations. So I think the best warranty is the one that doesn’t have such exemptions that time period is less important than the strength of the warranty during the time that it lasts.

Paul: Very true as we’re seeing. So speaking of hurricane Irma, has that had any effect on Cascadia’s business?

Michael: Geographically, we’re not commonly serving these markets that’s affected by Hurricane Irma, but although we are willing to in our expansion efforts would definitely include that area, now and in the future, but the effect that we’re seeing is just all over the whole North American industry. There’s definitely a noticeable increase in the amount of attention to resiliency. And in some ways, that’s almost becoming a buzzword. But you know, as much they hate buzzwords, I think the attention to it and the awareness of it is good, good for the industry, good for the buildings that result from this.

So increased resiliency when it comes to product selection is something where our potential customers are now giving more attention to our test ratings, the types of materials that we’re using in the construction of our products. So I think it having a good result on buying decisions and it’s increasing the number of items that people consider when they’re trying to assess the value of a product not simply its price.

One more thing that I’d like to add about Hurricane Irma related to our earlier discussion about the physical test for NAFS, is that although the products themselves are subjected to NAFS testing, the way that the products are attached to a building, the installation attachment is not part of the NAFS standard. And the products that are being tested can be attached for the purpose of testing in any way that the manufacturer wants, that you can overkill the method of attaching, the product, and that’s not something that’s tested or rated in the standard.

So the takeaway from that is that a builder or an installer should be careful to meet or even exceed the recommended attachment the manufacturer makes, or that the building engineer prescribes, in particular, being careful they don’t do less. And if there is no information from a certain manufacturer, then information should be sought. You shouldn’t just do what you’ve always done because the environmental loads and the winds pressures on one building could be different than another.

Paul: Yeah. So Michael if people, if listeners wanna get more information about Cascadia windows and doors, how would they go about doing that?

Michael: Yeah. The best way is to start with our website, where you can discover both a summary of our tested products, a gallery of examples of our products use in the description of even our newest product, which is of a brand new fiberglass commercial grade passive-house certified, window and door line. And this line is our newest technology. It’s called the universal series. It’s gaining a lot of ground because it’s not only our highest-performing product, it’s also our least, equal or least expensive product that we’ve ever made. So all that information is found on our website, and our website is,

And from that point, I would invite anybody who’s interested in discovering more or if we can just be helpful by sharing some technical information, to just to reach out to us with whatever method is convenient. Whether that’s email or telephone, it’s easy to find our contact information on

Paul: So Michael, it’s been very interesting and informative, I really thank you very much, and other listeners I’m sure enjoyed the material today. So thank you very much for coming on the podcast today.

Michael: You’re welcome Paul, it’s been a pleasure.

Paul: So thank you, everyone, for listening to the Everything Building Envelop Podcast. Please tell your friends and colleagues about it. If you’d like to subscribe, it can be found on iTunes and Android outlets such as Stitcher. And until next time, this is Paul Beer saying, so long.