With so many diverse components contributing to building envelope assemblies, it can be challenging to determine which of these myriad elements was the likely cause of a failure. Even seasoned building owners, managers, and facility professionals may find themselves faced with a confounding problem at the building exterior. These needn’t be catastrophic to be vexing, although sometimes, what began as a small, persistent issue can turn the corner suddenly to become a major fiasco.
Without proper diagnosis, building envelope problems are unlikely to go away. More often than not, superficial repairs actually make the situation worse, usually by trapping water or introducing materials incompatible with the existing construction. In the forensic examples that follow, we explore some of the varied causes of distress and failure in façades, plazas and building entrances, parking structures, and roofs, and look at the systematic, if sometimes complex, process of uncovering—and resolving—the source of the problem.