Maintaining Your Building Envelope

The commercialization of electric lighting, elevators, steel framing in buildings, and the increase in white collar workers, brought the dawn of the skyscraper in the early 1900s. Skyscapers continued to rise in cities across the country until the Great Depression, with a large boom seen again after the WWII in 1950s-60s. These tall buildings were often enclosed in ornate stone, terra cotta, masonry, and glass, with excessive exposure to high winds, and hot and cold temperatures.

Over years and without proper maintenance, these facades fall into disrepair, as they are an often overlooked maintenance item and can be challenging to inspect. Eroded mortar, concrete spalling, cracking, steel rusting/corrosion, and deteriorating parapets are an all areas to consider when inspecting a building facade.

With the age of tall buildings reaching 50-100+ years, many cities are initiating ordinances for inspection reports to be filed with the city. These ordinances are a result of falling portions of building facades which have injured and killed people and damaged the property on the ground level. Ordinances such as this have been passed in cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and San Francisco, commonly for buildings with more than 5 stories and/or 30 years and older.

Preventative maintenance can reduce the risk of potentially hazardous conditions. By investigating underlying issues in the foundation, controlling moisture infiltration, and tuckpointing masonry, you can greatly increase the longevity of your building’s facade.

If you’d like more information on preventative maintenance and inspecting a building facade, contact Scott Maloney.