Apr. 16 Construction Meeting notes

Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 11am, Construction Trailer

Harold, Dorothy and Bob met from 11:15am to 12 noon.

Stucco color: The new ochre color is being applied today (4/16). We need to wait until it dries before we can tell how it will look. It is good that the final coat is finally going on! The red/rose color should have a result soon too.

Courtyard tiles. The new ones have been delivered and will be installed once the scaffolding has come down. The existing tiles have taken a beating during construction. The project will assess and try to clean up any damage.

Painting non-Project windows blue:
Owner-installed white fiberglass windows need to be sanded, primed and painted by owners (unless Matt van Dyke is doing it, since it is part of his bid), with appropriate products. Bob will try to provide a spec or narrative how the project is doing this.

O’Hagin vents in tower roofs. Note that some towers are marked with an orange “D” (for dormer) to determine whether the vents need to be on the back and front, or whether they can be less visible on the sides. The architect is still working on this. He needs to assure that the same measure of ventilation will be achieved, or calculate the percentage change so we can decide on the trade-off.

Weep Screeds & Permeability. Harold relayed Harry’s concern about the permeability of the Sto coating at the weep screeds. Bob responded that this issue has been addressed by the Sto rep. and Vanderslice, even if no numbers are forthcoming. They would require substantial research time.

Window/door casings: The project will reuse old and replace with new as necessary. They are working on 4 options on how to marry the mullion that comes with the new windows, with the old casing. The architect is involved; this should be resolved today, hopefully with minimal cost impact.
Each solution is being mocked up at Dorothy’s house to make the decision. (We viewed these after the meeting.)Image

Exterior light fixtures: The order has been placed, arrival date not known yet. The money flow from Board to Project is being handled at the Stonemark office. The bulbs will be replaced with compact fluorescents. (Who will pay?)

Scheduling. As presented at last Saturday’s meeting the completion dates for the 910s is mid-May, for the 900s mid-June and the 920s mid-July. The new deck doors and trellis work for the 920s has been completed (except on door delivered with hinges on the wrong side). Work in the 920s will start again once the door/window crew, now moving unit by unit through the 900s, completes the last unit in that cluster.

Bathroom vent testing/replacement protocol for owners. Stonemark is working on this now, it is almost ready to go out.

Next meeting: Tuesday April 30, 2013, 11am.

About hmarcuse

I've been an environmentalist since my college days in the 1970s (May 1977 Seabrook, New Hampshire occupation) , and am now a professor of German history at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
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9 Responses to Apr. 16 Construction Meeting notes

  1. Harry Nelson says:

    On the continuing weep screed issue… I’ve received no substantive information about this from Sto or Vanderslice. The main objective of the Sto rep is to sell his product; his warranty covers nothing with respect to water/wetness issues in our homes.

    As for the literature, here is the section in `Builder’s Guide to Stucco, Lath & Plaster’:

    “As the name implies, the purpose of the weep screed component is to “weep” or pass any incidental moisture that may bet behind the stucco to the outside plane of the wall assembly. Contrary to popular belief, however, the perforations a the bottom of a weep screed to little to help evacuate incidental moisture as the holes are typically plugged with stucco. In fact, the holes in the weep screeds are more effective at mechanically keying the stucco than providing drainage. Instead, incidental moisture is more likely to find its way out over the can’t fo the inverted `V’ of the component.

    “The cement plaster that is applied to the weep screed contracts upon drying, leaving sufficient space for the water to escape out over the nose. (It has been found that foundation weep screeds with holes don’t perform as well because the holes become plugged with plaster.)

    “The true function of (and necessity for) weep screeds has generated a great deal of controversy over the years. Buy most accounts, incidental moisture will dissipate to such an extent at or near its source, that it will never be evident at the point of exit at the weep screed. From most experts’ experience, the more important function of a weep screed is its action as a capillary break from the soil and also as a “marker’ in identifying where the backfill must stop in the construction.” – (pages 28-29).

    My concern also arises from all the layers we are adding to the outside of our homes. Had the stucco installation been done right, there was no need for any paint at all; the original purpose of our paint was mainly for color. Because so many holes were made in the weather resistive barrier formed by our building paper at the time of initial construction, the `Plan B’ of water resistive paint was implemented.

    Due to all the leak problems, we have applied at least 2 low-permeance layers of paint, one around 1988 and another around 1996. Maybe we sandblasted one off in 1996, but maybe not; those involved couldn’t remember clearly.

    Now we’re adding yet 2 more layers on top of the existing situation: the dark grey Sto-Flexyl and the top cosmetic layer of StoPowerwall. Our overall permeance may well fall below 1 perm. It seems to me that might well put us in the danger zone for mold.

    It is not credible that our system will so perfect as to keep all water out. No guide allows that assumption… our walls are by design classified as `drainage walls,’ meaning, they are engineered to drain water that enters, but drain it away from the interior of our homes. From my years building boats I know just how hard it is to leak-tight a pieced-together structure like ours… amazingly hard, in fact.

    In my earlier discussions with Bart Mendel (which he stopped replying to, BTW), he was confused and categorized our walls as `barrier walls’. A solid brick wall or solid cement wall is a `barrier wall’.

    At stake here is a future of mold problems in our units. Moisture trapped between the low cumulative permeance outer skin and the interior sheetrock (where our interior paint has a fairly low permeance, particularly as we keep repainting) won’t have anywhere to go, particularly if we block the weep screeds. Our walls get warm when the sun shines on them. Warm and humid is perfect mold growing conditions…. as I said, there are some spots in my home where actual rot has set in next to areas with no weep screeds.

    The two countermeasures that were accepted by all experts up until 2011 or so was: sandblast the old paint off, and keep the weep screeds open. It seems to me we have abandoned those countermeasures without good engineering analyses.

  2. hmarcuse says:

    We never asked about mold in the walls, and I will raise that at the 4/30 meeting with Bob. But the previous explanation was that moisture can drain through the stucco/Sto (albeit slowly)–and since those weeps are being raised/replaced, there is NO old elastomeric over them to reduce the total Sto permeability. Also, as he explained it, the holes in the weep screed serve NO drainage function, they are just to save metal. Expensive weep screeds are solid across the bottom. The “weeping” occurs off of the sloped top portion–I think you indicated that in a previous post.

  3. Harry Nelson says:

    Some weep screeds (say, in the courtyards, and near some window replacements for homes that are having window replacements) appear to be getting replaced. But most of the weep screeds are not getting replaced. I agree about the holes…. the principal exit path for water liquid is the little gap that runs from the cavity between the building paper and lath to the outside world just above the angle on the sheet metal of the weep screed.

    Some units already have have mold issues in their walls or even mushrooms growing in their walls, with just the old system of elastomeric + elastomeric-clogged weep screeds. My unit has cases of damp wood near the baseboards.

    Since we didn’t sandblast off the old elastomeric (we might even have 2 layers of elastomeric) vapor must still traverse those old layers in addition to the new Sto layers added on top. That the Sto products or the stucco might have high permeance neglects the low permeance of the old layers we decided to leave on.

    So the explanation that stucco/Sto allows vapor penetration is sort of irrelevant. The old remaining elastomerics are still there sealing our buildings, retaining water, and allowing mold/dampness.

    BTW, I only just understood that the final `color’ layer is (Sto Powerwall) is actually more like stucco. I am having trouble understanding how I will clean that junk out of my own weep screeds…. the elastomeric I could just clean out with a chisel. Looks like some sort of grinder would be needed for the Powerwall.

  4. Harry Nelson says:

    Went over to the 910’s to have a look… indeed the weep screed for the *new* stucco-ing is also being clogged. We are already quadruple clogging (1980’s + 1990’s elastomeric + Sto-Flexyl + Sto-Powerwall) the *existing* weep screeds where they remain. The *new* weep screeds are only getting double clogged (Sto-Flexyl + Sto-Powerwall). However, in a standard installation the weep screed would not be clogged at all, and the paint layer would be extremely vapor permeable because the weather resistant barrier would be the house-wrap under the stucco, not the paint layer. That is if there was a paint layer at all… colored stucco with no paint might be used.

    In the current *new* screed areas, the made the 1-coat stucco even with the screed surface. They should have made the 1-coat thinner by 1/8″, leaving space for the Sto products to terminate prior to clogging the weep screed. The Sto products are kind of like the finish coat of normal stucco.

    As for water entry into the area behind the stucco… looks like the kitchen windows on units 911-913 have 1/2″ or so gaps left between the stucco/Sto & the window frame… you can see right into the flashing and lath. Water will just flow and blow right in! Here is a photo:

    • Harold says:

      Hmm, the photo is not comforting–I hope some kind of caulk will be going in. My own windows are being stuccoed with Eisenwall today, I’ll see how they finish their framing off.

      Another explanation I’ve heard about the weeping is that with the sto coat sealed tightly at the top as well, there will be far less (“no”?) water penetration behind the stucco in the first place. Where I have fungus and rot in my baseboard is in the study below the Juliet doors. I presume that properly sealing those doors will keep the moisture out of the bottom of that wall, even if the weep is slow. (That is just in my case however.) Still, your text says that some experts think the weeps don’t do anything anyway.

      • Harry Nelson says:

        Comments on the caulk below… how often to we have to re-caulk? 917 and 918 were caulk-less because.. well, some of us felt we had been lowballed in the past with cheap techniques that required a lot of maintenance (painting thresholds, for example).

        We’ve been burned in the past taking risks on all sorts of marginal construction techniques implemented to enhance $ or make it easier for everyone but WCP homeowners.

        I lean toward favoring WCP this time; do it right this time. If two experts give discrepant advice, go with the one with the lower risk to WCP, not the one that makes more money for the contractors etc.

        Keeping the weep screed open definitely favors WCP.

        Water will enter as the caulk fails, for example. Water comes in from the interior side, for example, from showers. These are not barrier walls, but drainage walls, water will always enter. Again, let’s not put more risk on WCP, we’ve been there, done that, and been screwed, blued, and tattooed. Let’s get a quality product this time.

  5. Harry Nelson says:

    Another picture of the windows, magnifying the gap between the stucco & the window frame. This is unit 913, and this is one of the 3 windows in the kitchen/dining area (same as 911 above).

    You can see the lath and flashing.

  6. Harry Nelson says:

    The `gap’ in the sides (jambs) of the windows (the triple window in the kitchen nook area) at 911-913 (but not 914 & 915) is actually in the newest drawings I’ve seen… here is a link:

    Click to access NewHeadJambSill.pdf

    It is supposed to be filled with 1)A backing rod, and then 2)caulk-type sealant. The pertinent notes are:

    Click to access ThermalMoistureNotes.pdf

    One serious but easy question: how frequently do we have to re-caulk? Since this is external and will get UV exposure from sunlight, my guess would be somewhat more frequently than the caulk in our bathtubs. Probably about as frequently as we had to re-varnish our thresholds over the past 25 years.

    Note that the head and the sill (top & bottom) of the windows are supposed to get the same rod/caulk. I’ve not seen that gap left in any of the remaining windows, so I guess the head and sill aren’t being done this way.

    If you look at 917/918, no caulk seals were done on the windows. The might (or might not) be a little cheaper to build, but the long term maintenance costs are lower, since re-caulking is not needed.

    ASTM E2112 has guidelines on the nature of the backing rod, and the recommended minimum/maximum for the gap width/depth.

    It might be that units 914 & 915 violate those guidelines. The stucco was inserted into the gap.

    Is it possible to post the current drawings for the project somewhere? What is being built does not agree with the most recent drawings that are available at the DesignARC ftp site.

  7. Harold Marcuse, 932 says:

    Harry, here’s an excerpt from today’s construction meeting notes. I’ll start a new thread in which you and I can clarify exactly what the question or issue is, and proceed from there.

    Weep Screeds & Permeability. Harold again raised Harry’s concern about the permeability of the Sto coating that wraps at the weep screeds. We discussed how to address this at length. Harry should formulate a clear, direct question and send it via the Board to Bob. (There may be cost involved in researching the answer, so the Board would have to approve this.) Bob would consult with Bart and if circumstances warrant, involve the Sto rep (Sto has a 12 year warranty) and/or the applicator, with a cc to Vanderslice. Decision: Harold will clarify this with Harry (on the blog) and then inform Dorothy who will take it to the Board to decide whether to pass it on to Bob. We would like to avoid involving Vanderslice at this point, since he was previously unable to provide the proper assurances.

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