An Ugly Problem for a Beautiful Building

Longyear at Fisher Hill Water Intrusion

Longyear at Fisher Hill is located in Brookline, MA.  It is a complex of five (5) multi-family buildings constructed of concrete, masonry, and steel.  An interesting fact about the building is that the Longyear Estate, built in 1890 in Marquette, Michigan, was moved in 1903 to its present location.  The 1,300-mile move “required two trains pulling 190 cars.”

Longyear Condos hired Barnes Consulting Group to conduct a study to investigate reports of failed EIFS at various locations at building B. Combined with these concerns were reports of water intrusion at various locations.  Note: it turned out that the veneer was not actually EIFS (exterior insulation and finish system), but rather a stucco system with insulation between the cold formed stud framing.

A survey of the façade was performed (limited to areas within the work area). This survey revealed areas of failed sealant along window frames; open seams between boards and copper flashing; areas of failed coating on the veneer; and cracks in the veneer.  These issues can allow moisture into the wall cavity and subsequently into the units.

A sloped roof/wall interface was a particular concern as water was reported entering the unit at, or just above, the floor line.  A section of the veneer was cut out and removed to expose the interior of the wall and to record as-built construction. Before this section was removed, BCG was given a brief tour by the unit owner whereby areas of failed veneer were pointed out –these areas included locations along the base of exterior walls; at wall sections beneath coping stones and railings; and along veneer that interfaces with parapet coping, just to name a few locations.

BCG concluded after the investigation that problems with the construction material were contributing to moisture getting behind the veneer. One issue in particular, is the lack of vapor barrier between the materials which causes moisture build up and material deterioration over time. Another issue, was the lack of a drainage plane which is typically used in this type of construction. It allows the moisture buildup within the material to collect and drain out. Not having any drainage only compounds the issue of water intrusion.

BCG worked with Longyear to design veneer repairs that included adding a proper moisture barrier and drainage system to mitigate future water intrusion.

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