Tremco Products and Applications for Building Envelopes

JB Snyder – Senior Technical Representative, Tremco Sealants

Everything Building Envelope Podcast Episode 64

Listen to Chris Matthews, GCI Consultants CEO & Founder talk with JB Snyder, Senior Technical Representative of Tremco Sealants, about the COVID-19, common waterproofing building envelope issues, and technology in the field. Listen in as the two experts discuss the in and outs of the current state of the Building Envelope landscape.

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, everyone, to our “Everything Building Envelope” podcast. I’m Chris Matthews, VP and Principal Consultant for GCI Consultants, and I’m your host today. I’m excited today to have as my guest, JB Snyder, who is a senior technical representative for Tremco Sealants. Welcome, JB.

JB: Good morning.

Chris: Great to have you here. JB and I have worked together on a lot of different technical projects through the years, as have a lot of our consultants here at GCI. And I think we’ll have a lot of interesting topics that we can discuss today. So JB, since this is your first time as our guest, why don’t you tell our audience a little bit about yourself and what you do at Tremco?

JB: All right, I’m Jeff Snyder. A lot of people in the industry know Jeff Snyder Jr. A lot of people know me as JB. Started in this industry in 2001, which dates me a little bit, but I’m kind of a second-generation waterproofing guy. My father started a couple years before I was born. I’m 42 now and he started back in the ’70s doing what I started as my first job being an estimator and project manager and working for a local waterproofing applicator here in Florida Metro Caulking and Waterproofing. So I started with him as an estimator and project manager in 2001, as I said. I worked there for about…I think it was about 10/11 years, working on a lot of projects in the field with GCI team and some of your former team members where I spent quite a bit of time in meetings and on the phone with some of your guys talking about the projects as an applicator.

And then in 2012, I changed teams and shirts and became a technical rep for Tremco. Tremco brought me on as a field technical rep. And then a couple of years ago, I got I guess you’d call it promoted in titles, so much to do a senior technical rep for all of Florida. So I work on everything building envelope like the podcast basically for Tremco products for all of Florida. The Florida team consists of a number of people kind of in different parts of the state. We have a couple of technical reps in the state. And I guess my title is Senior Technical Rep of the entire state for everything building envelope so ceilings, basements, patio decks, closet decks. Everything around a building is Tremco’s focus and my focus in dealing with discussions like this with you.

Chris: And what we like at GCI is we deal with different manufacturers in the industry. And what we like about dealing with JB and Tremco is just as he described that he’s got a real background in the industry. Some technical rep are really just salespeople, but JB has done it for a long time. And it really helps the project, the issues that we’re dealing with to have somebody from the manufacturer who really understands the products, the applications, and how to make it all go together out in the field and make it work. So great to have you here today. Let’s talk about what’s happening in our industry right now. I guess the first thing that we probably need to check off, because everybody is thinking about it and dealing with it is what you’re seeing as far as the industry and how it’s dealing with the COVID situation and specifically how Tremco is dealing with it.

JB: Well, that’s obviously the conversation that we’re having quite a bit, right? The Rolodex of people that we’re hearing and being in what they’re now calling the epicenter in South Florida at this point is a huge conversation point with just about everybody I talked to today and yesterday and every day right now. I think there’s a few things that are the normal talking points, which is the effect of COVID having a slowdown was pretty much inevitable. We’ve had a great run for a long, long time and seeing a little bit of a slowdown, whether it be the permit offices being restricted with allowing permits to come out and slowing some of the progress of our projects or just the idea that overall in general, you’re going to have a slowdown in business when something like this affects the economic interests of the country. But we saw a slowdown with or without it happening.

The main issue that I think on the day-to-day how that’s affecting us is the manpower situation, right, where that was already an issue trying to get qualified guys in the field to be able to put down our products or other people’s products or get areas ready for our folks to put down the product. And with manpower already being an issue and then hearing that due to the virus and what’s happening that crews are having to stay at home or quarantine for a little bit because one guy might have been tested or exposed. That’s become a little bit of a challenge. I talked to one of our applicator, one of our bigger applicators actually, who’s got somewhere around 200 guys in the field and they had 35 guys at one point that were not just sick, but had then exposed to some of the folks.

And to take 35 guys out in the field when you’re running a crew of 200, that’s a pretty big thing, right? And so we’re seeing the effects not just a, people getting sick and what’s happening, but we’re seeing the effects of the idea of, “Man, these guys are already struggling to find people to do the work. Now they’re having to keep a good portion of their crews at home for a prolonged period of time and not being able to do what they need to do. From a Tremco standpoint, I think the frequency of the in-person meetings we’re losing that. We’re doing a hell…I know you guys are in the same position. We’re doing a heck of a lot more of these conference call type things where we’re able to utilize technologies now that everybody has whether it’s Teams or Zoom or whatever it is, we’re doing a lot more of that.

And I think we’re getting better at it, but the truth is that face-to-face and sitting down and looking at layout of a project or where it is and being able to hammer that out is lost in the sense that we’re just less people are comfortable with it. Obviously, it’s more appropriate to go over teams. And in a way, start of it in March and April and what was happening, I think there was a layer of, let’s just say getting used to it. Everybody had to get used to doing that a little bit more. And so I see it getting better, but the loss of the frequency of those in-person meetings, I think in a way is…it’s kind of…I don’t know. You can’t quite get there and see and touch and feel everything and then have a full understanding right away of what we’re looking at when we’re trying to whether it’s designed something from the front end or maybe pick apart something that wasn’t quite done right on the back end.

Losing that, I think, will cause an issue in the sense that the value of having those experts there to go over that, whether it be you and our team or everybody together, is lost. And I’m hoping that the sooner the better we can get back to some of the normalcy in that sense. That value of seeing these types of things in person, you can’t quantify it when it comes to walking by and seeing something that is messed up and we’re going to look at something else and how that might affect it. But if I’m just looking at a screen and somebody’s dragging a cursor and, “Look at this and let’s go to this page,” you lose that, I believe.

Chris: Yeah, I agree with you. I mean, it’s better than nothing for sure, and we would certainly be completely shut down if we didn’t have that. But I don’t know if you put a percentage on it or what. But I’m with you, it’s maybe 80% as good as getting everybody together. And being if you’re on the site, you can go out and look at the problem and everybody is looking at the same thing at the same time. But you can get it done remotely like we have to do right now. But I’m with you, I think we’re losing a little something there. I mean, it’ll be good when we can get back to 100% effectiveness, I guess.

JB: I’m glad we’re in the day and age we’re in now because I mentioned starting in 2001, when we would fax stuff, and I can’t imagine us faxing markups back and forth right now like, “Hey, what do you think of this?” “Hold on and I’ll fax you or whatever.” So I’m glad the technology exists to be able to do it instantaneously, and I’m glad we’re kind of getting caught up to speed on it with a number of people figuring out what to click on and how to click and share screens and back and forth and creating… Our industry is…I know in a way I feel like we’ve lagged in technology over the years. It’s getting a lot better with Procore. It’s getting a lot better with the Zoom meetings and Teams meetings. And I think maybe it just took this to get us to jump up faster. And then now that we’re equalizing in the sense that everybody knows how to do it and what to do and the etiquette on how to do it, it’s gonna make us better, but it’s not gonna replace what we can do in the field.

Chris: Exactly. It makes us better technologically. We’ve got an opportunity, hopefully, in the future you’ve got a kind of a mix. And you see, well, for this situation, we don’t really need to get everybody together. There’s obviously efficiency, it’s easier to schedule everything else, if it is something we can use the technology for. But then when we do all need to be there in one room or on one site or whatever, we need to get back to being able to do that as well. So when you’re out there on those sites, what are you seeing right now? What are some issues that…like you, we get involved in new projects, trying to avoid problems. And then lots of our work is going out there and trying to solve problems, whether it be product problems, application problems just age and deterioration, whatever it may be. What are some things you see in your end of things happening over and over?

JB: All I see is sunshine and rainbows every day. That’s how it goes, right? Nobody does anything wrong. But truthfully, there’s always gonna be consistency in the problems that we see. There’s outliers that make our jobs, I think, more, more fun, because if you kept seeing the same dumb things all the time, it just becomes a stamp kind of, “Okay, this is what we do. This is what we do.” So it’s cool to have the new problems. But the stuff that we see all the time that that bogs us down and kind of drags a little bit of the life out of you like, “Man, why didn’t we talk about that?” Those are going to be consistent I think forever because they are consistent problems. For me, it’s gonna be traditionally, you’re gonna see connections. That’s where I see the problems where one unique thing may come in to a standard thing or two standard things come together and we see a problem.

I know that pool connections on pool decks will always be a challenge, because it seems that every single time there’s a little nuance difference to a pool, they’re not consistent, and they always do something that’s typically worse in the design than better when it comes for our waterproofing purpose. I know that the best jobs that we had back in the day were the ones where they created a big pool shell that we were able to waterproof. And then when that pool did whatever it was gonna do, we had waterproofing in that pool shell. So you hope that we had learned and we see a lot more of those now where we got a big pool shell and we can waterproof into that shell which is fantastic. So in a way that connection issue has somewhat gone away. We don’t see it on every job but we’re seeing it a lot more.

But what we see now more often that’s become a challenge for that, just dialing down on connection at pools, what now I’m seeing is “Okay. Well, we’re gonna have a pool gutter that wraps around it. Or we’re gonna have a stainless steel pool that tries to tie in. Or this one’s got a PVC liner that you have to figure out how to detail up against it.” And that connection has just been a challenge for us in the sense that we can waterproof the deck, we can waterproof the shell and figure out how to do that. But connecting to a pool has been a challenge for us in the sense of, “Can we add a curve? Can we do this? Or how is that gonna work?” And the metal pool shows up and it’s too small. So now what do we do? Because the opening is yay big and the pool is this big? And what are we gonna do? It’s your responsibility to go from that to this type of thing.” Pool connections have been a challenge for me most recently, including this morning. I had a conversation this morning before we started this. I don’t know if you’re seeing the same.

Drains are the other thing. We can design every waterproofing system to be the best it’s gonna be, but if we don’t have proper drainage, whether it be…a lack of slopes seem to be a big part, obviously, with the way we build in Florida. But the drain locations or drain existence or types of drains has been a problem for my near 20 years in this business, and that just seems to continue. I know that there’s a project we’re working on right now in Florida with your team where there’s, I don’t wanna exaggerate so I’d say somewhere around 25,000 square feet of hot applied waterproofing in this area. And with that amount of square footage, you’d think there’d be, I don’t know, a drain every 2,000 feet. I’m not a drain engineer or a plumbing engineer, whatever you wanna call it. But I’d say there needs to be a significant number of drains.

In this project 20,000 to 25,000 square feet of waterproofing, we have to drain two drains on the entire deck, and those were the only two drains. It’s is an open area. Somewhat partially open area, and water is gonna to find its way 100 feet across and around and down elevators and the whole thing, or shear walls, etc. to try and make it into one of these two drains that just so happen to be right near each other. They’re probably 10-feet away from each other in the center with 20,000 square feet surrounding them. That’s a problem. Now, hopefully, we don’t have a bunch of issues, but not having enough drains or not having the right type of drain, all that stuff.

You can put the best waterproof in there you can. We have hot applied, we know that could sit underwater. But how does that affect everything else is my question. How does that affect the overburden or the pavers or the efflorescence issues or just the headache of that drain getting build up the wrong way or clogged or whatever. And now we have water building up and going where it’s not supposed to go. If we have a significant number of drains, then we eliminate that. But that’s not something we really get to talk to being waterproofing guys. And I don’t know how much that you get into it from GCI’s standpoint of, “How can we fix this problem? Or I don’t know that you’re really analyzing how many drains there are.”

I had a conversation today and there’s a planter and there is no drain. There’s no drain in the planter. It’s just the box and they have no drain. And they say, “Well, what can we do?” Well, add a drain, you know? Put a drain in there.” It’s one of those types of things that I think will forever be part of our industry.

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Chris: They’re kind of similar issues too. And we kind of try to step back and look at the big picture, how are you gonna make…that’s kind of our role as a consultant, how are you going to make this all work together? And it’s just as you said, connections. And connections, I mean, you mentioned the pool to deck connection. We probably got five of those right now. Existing buildings with problems at that very detail that you’re describing. It’s a little different every time, but it didn’t get done right on five different jobs that I can think of right now. And it’s connections and everything. And I know Tremco gets into, you guys are addressing the whole envelope now. And it’s the same thing in walls. You can have the greatest curtain wall guy in the world, but he knows curtain walls. When he gets to how his curtain wall interfaces with waterproofing or a weather barrier around it or what have you, that’s a connection that can get overlooked. And it’s not his curtain wall that’s going to leak. It’s going to be where those two systems come together.

And the same thing with the drains. As you mentioned, we’re not plumbing experts either, but we try to look at all of that in the beginning because, as you said, no matter how good the products are, if you don’t have slope, if you don’t have drains, if you don’t think about where is this water going to be draining and what’s it gonna look like when this water with asphaltic waterproofing in it runs down the side of these buildings? All these kinds of things, you try to look at the whole picture and put it all together in a way that functions. Or in the example the pool decks, resolves these problems, which ends up I’m sure as you see a lot, it would have been a lot simpler to put that drain in that planter in the beginning and a lot cheaper than after the fact.

JB: Yeah, the other thing, and you’ve kind of touched on it, right, is sort of the uncertainty from I’ll exclude GCI because you guys are great at it. But some of these folks, their uncertainty in product recommendations. There’s a lot of people out there that are “waterproofing consultants,” or whatever you want to call. There’s a lot of people out there making recommendations that I think are maybe not the best choice for what we should do where we’re doing it. And I know that that’s part my job is to educate or be a resource to all these folks. We communicate a lot with your team and architects in the industry about, “Hey, I got this. What can we use?” Because just because you did it on the last job or another job or because another manufacturer rep might have talked to you about it yesterday doesn’t mean that it quite fits the thought process for what you’re doing here.

I had a phone call this morning with an architect, who was recommending a pedestrian deck coating system in an interstitial space on over a penthouse on a roof deck pool with a metal pool installed in that area so kind of a Triple Decker Whopper situation where we have too many headaches. And the uncertainty from his eyes was, “Hey, I got your [inaudible 00:18:46] one going in there, but I’m gonna have the [inaudible 00:18:48] applied up on the top deck. And we might have a little condensation in there. I’m like, “Man, you’re not gonna have condensation in there. This is gonna be a real problem here.”

And had already kind of half moved forward with this, but was double-checking with me thankfully, that we had the conversation. Otherwise, we would have been in a situation where it’s priced dumb gone, and somebody’s doing something that maybe we could have had a better product with a better system in that area. So when we know that pool is gonna sweat, we know there’s gonna be a ton of water in there, we have something like our Puma system in the interstitial space or 250, or 61. Whatever it is, we have a longer 20-year basically permanent waterproofing system going in underneath there so that we’re not coming back in 10 years trying to find out what’s going on or trying to make remedies to the situation.

In those cases, metal pool interstitial area, you know they’re never gonna be able to come back and fix that or recoat it or maintain it. It’s just not gonna happen. Nobody is gonna come with a crane and lift it up so we can remove some waterproofing and re-waterproof. And the guy’s knowledge is great, “Hey, Tremco. But maybe we need to shift it to a product recommendation, that’s a better fit for what you’re trying to do here.” With low-grade walls, we get into that quite a bit where it’s, “Well, what about this, what about that where we got frangible situation?” “Don’t go that route. Go this route.” And having some of that. I know that’s my job and we’re here to tell people make sure you do this provide as many tools of Tremco as you can. But I see that quite regularly, whether it be Tremco’s products or other people’s products it’s just there’s so many different groups out there nowadays.

Like you look back 20 years and there’s a lot less product. Nowadays, the industry is so specialized and boutique. But what’s nice about that is you have a number of tools in your tool belt to be able to fix those problems. But what it also lends itself to, in my opinion, and the problem I see over and over is because there’s so many options, people aren’t really quite sure and they sort of just pick what they’ve used in the past, and that might not have been the best fit for that job. So better communication I think helps that. Like, I mentioned earlier, I spoke to the architect this morning. He was going one route, but we sort of were able to curb that issue by saying, “Hey, you’re better off going this direction.”

Where that communication breakdown happens where it’s already in place on the drawings and the guy is out there getting started, we go, “Wait a minute. We probably should be using something a little different here.” That’s the issue we have. Or we’re down the line three, four or five, however many years later, and I get a call from you guys are some other folks that are saying, “Hey, these guys did this here.” And like you said, I got a bunch of asphalt bleed out on the side of the building because they decided to use a product that had that leaching situation. Or I got [inaudible 00:21:51] all on my pavers because they decided to go with a type of waterproofing that doesn’t drain well with no drainage mat on the bottom of the pavers and now we have problems. Well, maybe we should have used a different product or a different system in that area.”

Those problems aren’t gonna go away just because there’s not an expert on every corner trying to help. And I’m hoping that through further education and through contracting with somebody like GCI, you’re gonna say, “Hey, well, here’s your options. But based on what you have, we recommend this type of system or that type of application for where and what we’re gonna do for the scope area.” Do you follow me?

Chris: Yep. And that goes back to what we were talking about in the beginning. And what we appreciate about you and knowledgeable product reps like you is as you said, there are a great amount of tools out there right now, but a good product rep knows his company’s options better than anybody. And we like to get you and people like you involved early on so that we can make those right selections. And it’s exactly like you said, with so many architects, it’s just cut and paste, “Well, we used this on the last job.” So I’m just gonna say the same thing here again, they may not even know why. And it might work if they’re lucky, but there could be a lot of better options for sure.

JB: I was gonna mention one more thing on that because I think it’s important.

Chris: Yeah, go ahead.

JB: It’s almost like where we’re going type of idea. But the architects are walking away from a lot of this stuff, in a lot of ways. They’re just waterproofing and leaving the liability up to others. That misplaced liability aspect is getting more and more popular in the sense that they’re spending less money on paying for these drawings. They’re utilizing folks like GCI to say, “All right, I’m gonna say waterproofing, but I want GCI to put together a package that says what this is gonna do,” trying to move that liability away from them. And I think having worse plans and then increased liability to the consultants and the manufacturers is sort of an interesting part of our world. If you take your day out and put it into a pie slice of what you spend your time on, getting into the idea of, “Okay, put the liability on me,” is an interesting thing to say.

But you mentioned Tremco. That’s really what we go towards is, “Let us figure out how to handle that for you, and then we keep both of us out of trouble, because you don’t make the bad recommendations and I give you what it’s meant to.” And Tremco does a pretty good job of allowing us to be technical reps rather than sort of, you mentioned it early, but commission compensated type of guy, etc. Sort of crowbar in like, “Well, if you do this, then I get to go to Hawaii next year or whatever.” Like, we’re sort of…I get paid the same amount whether you use Tremco or not that’s the truth.

I’ve got to position Tremco in a winning stance amongst others and promote it and all that, but the truth is I can say, “Well, you got options, Chris. We can do this or we can do this. Or what might be best is if we did the first item, but then we go a little bit better over here and then we’re all protected here. And then we didn’t do something stupid. Or I know that this might work, but what I see us doing in Florida that works a lot better is we use this vapor permeable air barrier versus the peel and stick that not a lot of guys like to use all the time because they just get…they have headaches because it’s raining.”

Whatever it is we’re able to provide the tool, but we’re also able to take the liability away from the design professional who doesn’t know any better and he goes on the website and says, “All right, here’s one that I think works.” We’re better off taking that liability, wrapping it up, and putting it in a nice package and sending it to an email, “Hey, here’s what we would recommend for this job.” And that, I think, is gonna help us all build better buildings. That’s the end goal, right?

Chris: Yep. Exactly. Right. Right. That’s the goal to get it done right. Exactly. So you’re kind of touching on where you guys would like to see things go. And what do you see happening? We talked about what we’re stuck in the middle of right now and some of the problems we’re seeing right now. But what are you and Tremco seeing for, like, the next 5, 10 years, what’s happening down the road from your perspective?

JB: I would absolutely be happy to talk about the future because right now is kind of crappy so let’s move it on. That’s a great question in the sense that what’s happening now I think is gonna keep happening in our industry and from the manufacturer’s side with consolidation. I just spoke on the displaced liability piece where you can take that part away from the architect or the owner and say, “Give it to me and I’ll wrap it up.” So the mergers you’ve seen from Tremco where we grabbed a number of RPM companies and put them together under the new company Tremco is now Tremco Construction Products Group. And that includes your CSMW, the commercial sealants and waterproofing division that you know as the waterproofing portion. But Dryvit is now in the same umbrella as me, Nudura, which is an insulated concrete forms company, Willseal Expansion Joints. We work hand-in-hand with Nuclear Repair Mortar.

So basically you have everything building envelope. And they’re talking about the six sides of the building when you add the Tremco roofing division in as well, six side of the building bottom, four sides, and top you can wrap with Tremco. And I think that’s not just Tremco. That’s sort of where the competitors are going, too. When you see the consolidation where you used to just have one or if you took the sheet of waterproofing or building envelope, you’d have some of the manufacturers just would have sort of polka dots in that area or just have one vertical column but they don’t play here. I see consolidation happening throughout the industry because we’re all driving towards better buildings, like we just mentioned. And the best way to build these buildings is to sort of be able to wrap it all in one package with a tested and warranted system that you and I would be able to provide and an owner should be able to sleep at night, right? I can say, “Hey, we’ve done this on a lot of projects.”

And going back to the very beginning of what we talked about, which is the connections, we’re able to warrant those connections for you. Or here’s a tested, warranted application with the detail for how to do it. And oh, by the way, we have a test roll up in Cleveland that we’ve done this, and we can give you the data to show that this is going to work, not just tell you, “Well, it worked down there at that one job and seems like nobody’s called us. We didn’t have any problems. So let’s just do it again.” We’re taking it from a third-party level, validated situation and putting it in front of you saying, ‘Here’s the best way to go.” So consolidation I’m positive that’s gonna happen down the road and it’s gonna get further and further bigger and better, I would say, for everybody, for all the manufacturers.

Chris: I’m just gonna add that we’ve been, I think back for years, even on a real kind of basic level 15, 20 years ago, we would be on a job where somebody’s got three different sealant manufacturers that they’re using on the job, and maybe all of those different joints are coming together at one location. And even way back then we were saying, “Hey, at least consolidate to one sealant manufacturer so you don’t have three different warranties and three different issues here.” And then we get into the same thing all the time where two or three different products are coming together and we’re saying, “Well, you’ve got to get a letter from every one of those manufacturers to address compatibility. And are there gonna be any other issues where these three different products from three different manufacturers come together?” So what a great thing for the industry and performance, as you said, making a better building, if that’s all covered by one company, one warranty, their products are already all designed to work together and you’ve actually got a connection detail between it. So it makes our job easier and makes the building better from the start, I think.

JB: The warranty piece is interesting from the Tremco standpoint because we’ve been working on our building envelope. I know I remember talking to your team at a lunch and learn, I wanna say, a year and a half, two years ago on the warranty piece. And I’ll give you the fast version of it because I think this is…I was part of this from the beginning, but Buchholz, who’s our division manager. He’s been on the podcast, I think, maybe a year plus ago. He was on a while ago. But he’s been instrumental in getting this to work where we have a new building envelope warranty in the sense that you can take the existing warranty type system that you’ve seen in the past, which essentially is…you get that. Well, that’s just a piece of paper type of excuse a lot of times when you talk about warranties, right, “It’s just a piece of paper. I know it says five years or 20 years, or whatever it is that’s whatever.

What we’re trying to do is change that, make it more than just a piece of paper, which I think is really cool. So previous warranties, I’m gonna simplify it to make it easier for both of us. But if we had maybe a basement waterproofing and a vehicular coating in a garage and it’s about waterproofing, you would get either three separate warranties maybe from three separate manufacturers or maybe you’d get one. Let’s say Tremco is doing waterproofing, what essentially would happened was you’d get three different warranties for each piece of that. Now what we’re doing with the new building envelope warranty is just like you said, and I don’t know if you meant to say it or not, but you will get one warranty for the entire building.

And how it works is literally, when you’d have three separate warranties, you’d essentially have three buckets that would give you the coverage for each area. So had you had, I don’t know, a couple thousand square feet of vehicular coating in the garage, but maybe 100,000 square feet on the balconies, if you ever had an issue with this one area, you were restricted to the dollar value just for that vehicular area. So 1000 square feet, 2000 square feet, you might be restricted to a couple thousand dollars of coverage. Now, typically Tremco is always gonna kind of cover that anyway, if we ever had an issue, which is rare. But if we ever had an issue, we’re gonna cover it. But a lot of times, the owners didn’t like, “Unless it was in writing, it didn’t exist.”

The new warranty, which you said, like, one warranty for the whole system would literally create one big bucket for everything Tremco on the job. So basements, plaza decks, vehicular decks, whatever it is, you’re creating an entire job warranty with one warranty that has each item on it and creates one big bank for all that as well. So one, the more Tremco you put on it, the more coverage you have in your big overall view of the project. But two, there’s also little caveats about, “We’re gonna recommend using a firm like GCI on the project approved third-party consultants knowing end result being a better building. If we have third-party oversight, there’s really only a few of us. But if you’re involved, we’re able to give longer warranty. So if it was five years before we’ll be able to give 7 years. If you have multiple components of Tremco on the job was, we’ll be able to give them longer. If you put two pieces together, we might be able to give connection warranties for those areas with longer terms.”

There’s a lot going on there. Labor included for all the warranties as well. So if there’s an issue, we’ll pay for the labor and the material where it used to be labor. So I could see that being a big deal for the industry in that sense when Tremco drives something, they’ve always kind of been innovators. I can see warranties getting better in the next 5, 10 years from amongst our crew, because warranties have always really been a sales tool. And then they kind of lost their speed in the sense that what we would hear when we talk about warranty, “Ah, well, it’s just a sheet of paper.” They weren’t really being utilized as what they could be. So this building envelope system, I’m super excited about it moving forward on a multitude of reasons. We could do two more podcasts just on the warranty program. So I don’t wanna waste too much on it. But the key is driving the industry to perform in terms of where the warranty is gonna be whether it be for an entire project, or proportions of the project, I could see that getting to be a bigger talking point in our industry, for sure for sure, in terms of building envelopes.

Chris: And I think as we’ve been talking about, it ends up being a better building and that’s what it’s all about, right? The party who suffers in all these deals and usually had nothing to do with the problem is the building owner. And as you know, we do a lot of litigation work on buildings with problems. And it always just strikes me as there’s a lot of different people out here pointing fingers at each other about why something went wrong. But the one party out here who didn’t do anything wrong for sure, is the person who put up the money and built this building, whether it’s a commercial building…

JB: And who suffers, yeah that’s correct.

Chris: Or it could just be a single family home owner, whatever it may be, we get involved in all different types and sizes of projects with building envelope issues. But the one party who almost always had no part of the blame is the person who’s got to live with it. And then you’ve got a lot of others out there pointing fingers at each other about why things went wrong. What we’re talking about won’t solve every one of those problems, but it’ll go a long way toward preventing those. Going back to what we talked about before, connections and interfaces, and planning about how all these systems come together, even if the architect didn’t address what he should have, even if the con tractor didn’t address what he should have when you’ve got one manufacturer providing a lot of these products.

And you’re talking mostly about horizontal applications in waterproofing, but it’s weather barriers and walls, it’s sealants, it’s how those systems interface with the waterproofing at a breezeway or a balcony or whatever. The more of that that can be covered by one firm who’s looking at the big picture, I think it’s gonna eliminate a lot of these issues that we see later on.

And then make the warranty mean something. As you said, everybody views it right now as just a piece of paper, but what would be great is if you don’t need it, right, if the building performs right. And I think you would hope that that’s the goal, I know from Tremco’s standpoint, it’s kind of a sales tool still in that, “We cover the whole envelope.” But also on the fact that you’re looking at the whole envelope that you’ve got a vested interest in making sure that not just your stuff works, but the whole envelope works. Maybe that someday it comes to a point where people don’t have as many problems and because the warranty means something, they don’t ever have to rely on it.

JB: I think some of the unintended consequences of having a better warranty system to talk about people with is maybe you start to talk about things that might have fallen through the cracks had we not said, “Hey, we’re talking about the whole building envelope here. So what are we doing here or what are we doing there?” It helps to focus the discussion when you’re building when you’re bolting on these products and systems onto a building, whether it’s restoration or new construction. If we’re in restoration side, we can say, “Hey, we have the balconies we’re doing this or that. But listen, we have Dryvit systems that we can put on the wall. So we’re here kind of building that warranty you’re able to bolt on any system that you might not have known where you can actually grow and provide a tested warranted system for your facade, just like you said. I was thinking flat areas, but I didn’t realize that I’m putting a new skin on my building while I’m at it, I can build an envelope with the facade system and the air barrier and the balconies all together on one package. And you hand me a warranty that says and it’s all covered?”

“Yeah, one finger to point, one throat to choke, whatever you wanna say, we did it. But we designed it the way it’s gonna work.” And you don’t have one guy’s stuff and then how does that go to another guys and what do I do? Who goes first? That’s always been the headache, “Well, I’m gonna go first and let them tie in to me.” “No, no. We gotta go first then they can…” That’s always been one of my headaches. But if I told you, I’m going to go first twice, that’s the best way to do it. I’ll do that and then, I’ll do that right afterwards. Let me handle all of it.

People just like to hear that. The same problem with the connections and we might come back to it a few more in this conversation, but if you can take the connection issue away and say, “Give me the connection, I’ll handle it.” Then they go, “Fine. Great. Love it. Displace liabilities.” It’s fantastic when you’re trying to figure out headaches on a project, you can always finger-point the obvious ones but sometimes, they’re less obvious. But if I’ve already figured them out, then don’t worry about it. That’s a big deal.

In terms of, what else, five to 10 years down the road, I think new technologies. If you go back 10 years, right, with where we are from 10 years ago, you don’t need to go back 20 years. But even if you went back 10 years, you’re gonna see that there’s technologies from all different manufacturers for all types of applications. I think you’re gonna see from a manufacturer’s standpoint, we’re always looking for something that’s easy to do that is not gonna cause us problems. So ease of application is one thing, but we’ll get you off fast. So it’s less of an issue around here unless we’re talking about rain. But I think what we wanna do in construction is elongate the construction season. So if you’re in northern climates, you wanna be able to do stuff in colder temperatures, but also shorten the construction schedule, which means make it go faster so I don’t have to… I’m not waiting for you guys to finish something when we can get off a job quicker.

I think that’s the overall viewpoint, at least from Tremco’s standard, right, how can we take just putting waterproofing or an air barrier system down in eight months out of the year and make it 10 months or 12 months whatever it is. That’s important in the sense that we can come up with a way to make your job go faster by opening up the season. I think in South Florida specific we’ve always seen headaches with damp concrete construction schedule is driven green concrete, but damp conditions where we’re getting rain all the time. Or even in below grade applications. We have our new below grade product Amphibia, which is kind of a pre-applied membrane for slabs that performs very well. Actually, better than a bentonite where it self-heals, self-steel, the overlaps, etc. But if it gets rained on, we’re not the guys telling everybody the guys building on the rebar, etc. We’re not these guys saying, “Well you can’t walk on it for 24 hours anymore. Or you can’t mess up the waterproofing.”

That type of product, I think is gonna be where we’re going into the future because, one, it’s fast for construction, you’re not delaying people. But two, it allows for better technology than what the past technologies of standard bentonites might be, right? It performs a little bit better and doesn’t get disturbed in environments that are typical of being in a pit, 20-feet below grade and a pump fails, or we get a massive rainstorm and we see what happens to those types of systems. But if we had a product like Amphibia where we don’t have to worry about it, you basically hose it off and move forward. Well, now we’re not ripping out $50 grand worth of material and having to replace it with new material that might just get rained on the next day anyway. That’s sort of the headache with that world. Those types of technologies.

Puma, I know we’ve worked on a number of Puma jobs [inaudible 00:42:17]. But Puma is a game changer for waterproofing in my opinion. You can use one type of waterproofing, whether it be on a deck, under a pool, through a planter, back and forth, monolithic the whole way. That technology is moving our industry to better places but getting people done faster so that they can, one, use the manpower somewhere else and two, make more money somewhere else as well, not just use the manpower, which is gonna be short.

Technologies are going to be pretty cool moment for. I’m sure it’s cool when somebody comes and talks to you about a new product and he likes it. Obviously, some of us are skeptics at heart. I’ve always been the guy that’s like, “I’ll believe it when I see it or I wanna see…” I like to see it happen a couple times first. It’s always cool to hear what the next coolest thing is and why that’s going to be better than what we’ve been doing in the past, specifically in technologies in our industry. Because we’ve seen some innovations over the years that are game changers to me game changers. What we used to do is gone now compared to certain applications.

The big one I remember was the 250GC. And I know this is so simple, but our elevator pit. The original green concrete waterproofing was bentonite. You couldn’t put a fluid applied on an elevator pit unless you waited 28 days. Well, when you told somebody, “The architect has a fluid applied here and you gotta wait 28 days.” They would scream at you saying, “I don’t have 28 days to wait for an elevator pit. I gotta build my building.” And so you saw bentonite there. But when 250GC came around, you said, “Oh, I got the fluid applied and I can put it on right after you pull the forms, 24 hours, whatever.” “Fantastic. Do it. Go.” That was the first game changer in terms of the liquid-applied green concrete technology. Well, now every manufacturer has a green concrete product. All of them have moisture tolerance in their systems in one way or another. And that’s a driver. These new technologies, I think, make the industry better. They push people to do better things, come up with better products and better ideas to do what we do.

And I think when we push our technologies that are circling back for the, I don’t know, the third or fourth time in the conversation, we get a better building. When we have products that last longer and perform better and handle the elements better, then you get a better building. Because then hopefully, GCI is not coming around going, “Well, why is this all messed up? Or what did we do here” I mean, “Oh, well, it got trashed. And oh, that was where we had the big rain that day and we thought it was okay.”

Whatever it is, we’re able to provide a technology that can handle some of these worst conditions with worse designs or lack of a design for that area. And we can give you the product that might perform long-term there, not just perform. That’s the idea with newer technologies.

Chris: Yep. And that is exciting and probably a good place for us to end it today on looking forward to those technologies and what’s next improving products and building performance, construction, time, the whole thing. Well, I can talk to you about this stuff whole day, JB, but they’re telling me we gotta wrap it up. So I appreciate you coming in today, lots of good stuff. Why don’t you tell our audience how they can get in touch with you at Tremco if they need your expertise?

JB: Thank you again, Chris. I appreciate it. And I know it’s short notice. I got a nice vacation next week that I’m lining up, so thanks for taking this today. I had a great time. I really appreciate the invite. I’m just Jeff Snyder. You can find me is my email, or you can go on the website and find your local rep wherever you are in the country. Everybody will be happy to hear that you listened to this podcast. And hopefully, we can discuss your building’s envelope issues down the road. And thanks, again. I really do appreciate your team and your time as well.

Chris: Okay. Well, thanks for joining us today. I’d like to thank everyone for listening to our podcast, and we invite you to take a further look at our GCI Consultants services on our website at You can also reach us at 877-740-9990 to discuss any of your building envelope needs. Thank you again and I look forward to talking with you the next time on our “Everything Building Envelope” podcast.

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COVID-19 Protocols for Building Envelope Inspections

Paul Beers and Janice Hoffman – GCI Consultants

Episode 57 with Paul Beers and Janice Hoffman from GCI Consultants talking about COVID-19 Protocols

The new normal for the construction industry is being defined right now. Keeping people safe is the name of the game. What has changed is that we’re implementing new COVID-19 safety protocols and training for all GCI personnel – this includes our inspectors who come onsite at your property. What hasn’t changed is our dedication to providing our expert opinions and experience to assess and interpret the damage to your property.

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 Paul Beers, CEO and managing member for GCI Consultants, and I’ll be your host today. We have a really special guest today, Janice Hoffman. Hi, Janice.

Janice: Hey, Paul. How are you today?

Paul: Good. So, Janice works for GCI and she wears many hats. And one of the hats you wear, Janice, is that you’re the producer of the podcast. Are you not?

Janice: Yes, I am. And it’s a pleasure to do so.

Paul: And how many podcasts are we up to now?

Janice: Sixty-five.

Paul: Sixty-five, wow. And, Janice, you’ve done every single one of them, haven’t you?

Janice: I have indeed.

Paul: Yeah. So, one of the other hats that you’ve been wearing recently is related to today’s topic. And what we’re going to talk about is how we’re doing business during and then after the COVID-19 crisis and kind of how we’re going to operate in what I’m calling and others are calling the new normal. So, I know that you’ve been tasked with gathering supplies and whatnot, haven’t you?

Janice: Yes, I have. We’ve been working diligently day after day to look for sources that could provide us with all of the items that we need to keep our technicians and our clients safe on every project that we take on.

Paul: Yeah. So, we’re an engineering firm in the state of Florida and you know, when they had the stay-at-home order and the lockdown and all that, we were actually exempted, one of the types of businesses that were exempted. So, a lot of our construction projects, we kept working. A lot of other things have been postponed or delayed for obvious reasons. We have, however, been inspecting buildings for hurricane damage in Panama City and they actually worked out well up there because…not well for them, but well for us because you know, all these rentals, it was spring break actually, all the rentals ceased to exist and the buildings are basically empty. But we really wanted to protect, make sure it was safe, not only for our employees but also for the people at the properties that we were inspecting and also for everybody to feel comfortable. So, Janice, we actually prepared a document or a protocol for that.

Janice: Yes. Yes, we did.

Paul: The protocol is called COVID-19 Safety Protocol for GCI Inspections and Testing. And we put a lot of thought into this and how we were going to do it. And again, it’s around the safety and well-being of our employees, our clients, occupants of the properties, whatnot. And that’s obviously the top priority with this. And so, the protocol basically follows what the CDC requirements are. We have thermometers and can you tell about what we do as far as making sure everybody’s healthy to start the day, every day?

Janice: When we arrive, the first thing we do is we check with our employees and make sure that if they have any designated symptoms whatsoever, whether they have a fever or cough or shortness of breath, they’re not going to perform inspections until they’re medically cleared. And so, each day they have to go there, they have to take their temperatures and they have to record it on our company Excel sheet that we have in our safety log on our server. So, we are tracking each employee’s designated symptoms on a day in and day out basis in order to keep them and our clients safe.

Paul: Yep. And then we’ve got a specific protocol. Now, this particular application here is for doing inspections in occupied units. And we do that a lot. You know, on hurricane damage, we go in every single unit in the building. If it’s a big condominium with 100 units, our goal is to go into all 100. When we get into expert witness litigation assignments, you know, frequently you end up in occupied units again. So, that’s basically what this is designed for. And so, what the protocol is that we’ve developed a protocol and we’ve done a lot of training with our staff too. In fact, we had training yesterday, didn’t we, Janice? Again.

Janice: Yes. We sure did. We have monthly safety trainings and yesterday was devoted entirely to our safety protocol based on COVID-19 to make sure that…well, it was really a follow-up training and to make sure that everybody is in full compliance across the company.

Paul: And we’re going to keep doing the training over and over just to make sure that everybody’s really focused on safety and doing things the right way. So, the protocol includes maintaining proper distance of six-feet or separation with other employees and anybody else they come into contact with, clients, property occupants, things like that. You can’t have a bunch of people riding together in the elevators. When we go into a unit, our goal is now, this isn’t hard fast, but it’s the general rule of thumb, is that we’re only going to send one inspector into the unit, so you know, reduce the number of people that are in there. And what are they going to be equipped with when they go in, Janice?

Janice: Well, we have assembled kits for all of our inspectors. They’re going to have everything from, well, their thermometers, to their boot covers, to their alcohol wipes. We’ve given them face shields and gloves and hand sanitizers and sealable bags that once they leave the unit, they can put their booties and their gloves inside that sealable plastic bag and put on new before they enter the next unit. And then they have their paper towels and their surface cleaners, and they have a full complete kit of supplies that they take to every location and unit that they’re going to inspect.

Paul: Yes. Well, first of all, they wash their hands coming in and out of every unit. They put the protective gear on. As you said, it was the booties, the face covers, disposable gloves, and then they go in and you know, there’s guidelines for what they do when they go in, they’re not touching their face, they’re not doing things like that. We try to pre-educate the people where we are coming into the units or the property managers and have them open window treatments, move furniture, things like that ahead of time. So, the less that we have to touch, the better when we do our inspection. And another thing that we do before we do the inspection is we clean all of our equipment. We typically use iPads and we may have flashlights, ladders. Those get cleaned going in and coming out of every single unit.

And then when they come out of the unit, they remove and dispose of the shoe covers. Then they remove and they dispose of the gloves and our protocol has an illustration straight from CDC on how to remove and dispose of the gloves. We then wash our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use the sanitizers if the soap and water is not available. So, it’s a very rigorous and thorough procedure, well, first of all, to facilitate being able to do this because you know, a lot of this stuff is very important. Insurance claims, they’ve got deadlines approaching and things like that and you know, maybe they’re having, say, water intrusion issues. Well, that can’t wait necessarily because there’s other underlying problems that come with that. So, they’ve got to get in and they’ve got to get out in a reasonable amount of time.

Janice: They are also practicing physical distancing, when in these units, if there just so happens to be another person within the unit, but we’ve got that down pat. By now, this is second nature to our technicians at this point, which is really great.

Paul: Yeah. Now, we’ve been doing these inspections all along without incident. We haven’t had any problems with anybody being sick or getting sick. And I think the comfort level has been pretty good. Another thing that we have on our protocol is a hotline number. So, if there’s any questions or concerns, there’s…and Janice, you’re one of the hotline people, one of your many hats.

Janice: I am.

Paul: Yeah. And that there’s an 800 number, a toll-free number that they can call if there’s any concerns or any issues with that where they can basically, you know, get answers or let us know if there is a concern that needs to be addressed. So, our goal is to, you know, continue to be able to provide great service to our clients safely, keep things moving and you know, that kind of comes to the subject of the new normal as we call it. What’s this going to look like going forward? And I think nobody knows. Do you know, Janice?

Janice: No. I really don’t know. But I’m anxious to hear from your conversations you’ve had with people in the industry, what some of the things you might be anticipating.

Paul: Well, you know, there’s certain things are going to be done differently I think forevermore. One thing that’s happened real quickly was everybody’s using Zoom for virtual meetings. So, you know, even when we’re setting up to go into a building, we have a Zoom call and we go over everything and we show them what we’re doing. And I think things like that are probably not going to change for sure. It’s going to be a long time or maybe never that we do away with some of these steps that we’re doing. I mean, it’s just common sense. The washing the hands and cleaning the equipment and you know, I don’t know if we’ll have to use gloves forever, but you know, if we do, we will. We’ve always worn the booties anyway just to keep from tracking dirt. I don’t know about face covers if that lives on, but you know, clearly some of this stuff I think is gonna ultimately make things better for everybody in the long-run just because it’s good practice. We never had to do it before, but you know, maybe it would have been a good idea I guess.

Janice: And now that it becomes second nature, it’s just so much easier just to keep it going and it is just good hygiene and good protection for everyone involved.

Paul: Yeah. So, you know, we’re happy to be able to continue on and do it in a responsible way. If any of the listeners want to…what our safety protocol looks like, Janice, can they get a copy?

Janice: Yeah. They sure can. They can either send an email request to or I’ll even share my direct line with them, that’s 561-228-4262 and I’d be happy to answer any questions and to email them our protocol as well.

Paul: Great. So, as we continue through the crisis, the next thing that we’re going to do as a company, and we’re not ready to do it yet because there’s not even any CDC guidelines on it, is figure out how we can travel to remote job sites. How we’ve been getting to Panama City by the way, which is 8 to 10 hours away in the car is exactly that way, we’ve been driving up there and we’ve been staying in rental units at the properties that we’re inspecting, so we’re not having to leave and get exposed as few people as possible I guess is the way we would say it. So, you know, as the restrictions continue to be lifted, we’re going to continue to incorporate them into our policies. So, for instance, you know, being able to get on an airplane again, obviously that was something we used to do a lot of and there’s some places like, for instance, Puerto Rico where we’ve got work that’s ready to go but we can’t get there right now, we’re going to need that safety protocol I think is going to be a big part of it going forward. And you know, as I say, the new normal is going to emerge. Sort of see that some of this is going to be part of it and you know, hopefully, sooner rather than later we’ll get through this and be back to the new normal. So, short and sweet. That’s how we’re doing it. Janice, thank you so much for coming on with me today and helping explain what we’re doing and I know that you’ve been very involved in the search for supplies, which is a huge challenge.

Janice: Yes. It’s been a fun endeavor actually because when you think about the safety of our employees and clients and understanding how important it is to all of us going forward, we have had success. So, I’m happy to report that we’ve got backup supplies for all of our inspectors and as their kits run low, we’ll be able to ship them out additional supplies and just keep them running and they’ll keep taking care of our clients. So, we’re in good shape.

Paul: Keeping everybody safe.

Janice: Keeping them all safe. That’s it. That’s the name of the game.

Paul: Yeah. So, I’d like to thank everyone for listening to our podcast today and I invite you to take a further look at GCI Consultants and our services on our website, You can also reach us at 877-740-9990 if you have any need for our services, which are related obviously to the building envelope. Thank you once again, and I look forward to talking with you next time on the “Everything Building Envelope” podcast. So long, everyone.