Here’s a true story — happened last week — illustrating the difference between real-world requirements, industry requirements, and what happens when the real world inserts itself into a project and says “cope with me.”
First, a touch of background.
We’re doing a series of AIA- and RCI-approved free seminars across the country, Jacksonville to Seattle, with even a shot coming up in Vancouver.
The seminars, worth credit-hours for AIA and RCI members, explain why testing of construction mock-ups is crucial for ensuring building envelopes don’t fail. I’m not talking about the kind of “wink-wink” testing that’s done just to say it was done. The design verification testing these seminars talk about is on mock-ups built with the same people, products and procedures that will be used on the project.
Design verification testing subjects the mock-up to simulated weather conditions the building will actually face, until the mock-up fails. That’s how you know what your building envelope can withstand. And if your mock-up fails in the first two minutes, as many do when subjected to “real world” testing, you can fix it, before the problem occurs in your finished building, resulting in lawsuits.
That’s the seminar and the background. If you’re interested in attending one of these seminars near you, visit our seminar sign-up page. It has a really cool video that shows just how well a standard window assembly, built to AAMA standards, fares in real-world design verification testing.
So our guys are doing the seminar in New Orleans last week. They have one of the test chambers used in that video on our sign-up page. After the seminar is done, and some of the audience has left, the guys are playing around with the chamber, showing the remaining audience members how it works.
They’re using a mock-up made with our own PROSOCO R-GUARD FastFlash air & water barrier products. Of course, the pressure — upped to simulate a Category 5 hurricane — and the blasts of water have no effect on the barrier. No leaks after 5 minutes, 10 minutes and longer.
Couldn’t say the same, alas, for the peel and stick and fabric wraps they tried out.
Anyway, this one contractor who stayed after the seminar suddenly connected the dots from what he was seeing in the after-hours demo to a seemingly unsolvable problem on his jobsite.
The job site is the four-story brick medical examiner building in downtown New Orleans. It’s getting a fifth story. The problem is that the crew only has enough brick for two of the four sides of the building. Unfortunately, the peel and stick vapor barrier they planned to use couldn’t survive exposed until October when the new brick arrives.
They couldn’t put the peel and stick on the structural wall anyway, because rain was forecast, and the peel and stick has to go on a dry surface.
None of that’s a problem for the FastFlash air and water barrier system, which is a lot faster and easier to install than a peel and stick anyway. It goes on wet or dry surfaces just fine, and is immediately waterproof, and UV-resistant for up to six months. So even without the brick on the two exposed sides of the fifth story, the construction can still dry in.
The contractor, watching the demo and talking to our guys Ron Tatley, Shawn DeRosier and Dave Pennington, has the lightbulb moment. He realizes FastFlash can protect his structural walls, and that he can install it immediately, rain or no rain. The contractor and our rep Bob Holmes, RK Holmes Company, Maypearl, Texas, worked it out with the architect and the GC, and two days later, construction continued, despite the rain and lack of brick.
I’m sure that the peel and stick product met all the industry ASTM and other requirements. But the cold fact is, WHEN NEEDED it couldn’t meet the real-world requirements.
How many other times has this story been repeated — but without the last-minute save? Maybe it’s happened to you or someone you know? The real world interfered with the project.
I find this story worth telling because it is one more proof-positive example showing that construction products and procedures must meet the requirements of the real world, including rain and construction delays, and not just the artificial standards cooked up by committees.
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