Identification of Constructability and Longer Term Performance

Posted on by Ed Retzbach

Today’s buildings and owner requirements are more complex than ever making mock-ups and pre-construction meetings critical to the success of any project.  Greater control and efficiency during the construction process is imperative to avoid longer term performance problems resulting from incompatibility issues when products from a variety of manufacturers are mixed and matched by the various subcontractors on the job. 

Products not formulated and tested to perform together may provide short-term adhesion, but incompatibility may compromise the integrity of the application and lead to water intrusion and much more.  As the number of product manufacturers involved in an application increases, so does your opportunity for problems.  The Air Barrier Association of American (ABAA) recommends a “unified, single source” for air barrier assemblies, eliminating significant risk for all involved.

If some aspect of a building’s design is not performing as predicted during construction (and testing) of the mock-up, the project team has the ability to react before the problem is repeated again and again, delaying schedules and requiring costly rework.

Functional testing of installed materials and how they transition into each other can also determine their ability to control air movement between the conditioned interior space and the exterior, thereby reducing energy costs, prolonging component and enclosure life, reducing maintenance costs, providing better indoor air quality and increasing occupant comfort. 

With the wide variety of trades involved in construction of the building enclosure and the broad array of material that may abut, overlap or intersect, it is critical to work out the sequence of installation, hand-off points between trades and the methods that must be used.  The process can also point out if the materials specified are appropriate to meet the project requirements and allows “hands-on” training for new materials to ensure proper installation.  The transition may not be clearly defined in the details, resulting in issues that can lead to water infiltration, condensation and the potential for mold.  It is at these interfaces where most problems will occur.

A successful outcome means being able to withstand structural wind loads and air leakage under dynamic pressure conditions.  Delivering on this performance requires rigorous testing.  Fixes after the fact are no longer tested solutions, leaving results up to chance. If it isn’t integrated, coordinated design with proven solutions at connections throughout the enclosure from the start, chances are there will be problems over time.  

Working with those in the design and construction team on selection and design of appropriate solutions, defining continuity and detailing transitions, coordination and sequence of installation is what enables a successful outcome to be achieved whether the objective is to be able to meet aggressive energy initiatives despite seismic conditions or avoiding moisture infiltration at areas with dynamic movement where dissimilar materials of the window assembly and various adjacent wall assemblies connect and where multiple installers normally become involved.

Ensuring performance of a building’s design requires generating as much control as possible from shop drawing reviews through evaluation of connection points and compatibilities as well as construction sequencing.  The days of looking at individual portions of a building or application are long past.   Then, quality of the field installation and performance when put to the test during mock-up testing can be more readily assured, minimizing constructability issues and the need for “fixes” to help meet owner performance requirements.

Glazing/Facade International

Ed Retzbach

About Ed Retzbach

Ed Retzbach is the Senior Project Development Manager on the Building Envelope Solutions Team (BEST) at Tremco CS&W. His primary responsibility includes providing technical support to contractors, architects, engineers and consultants during design of building envelope protection systems. This includes assistance with system reviews, product selection, specifications, and quality assurance methods.

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