As he squints his eyes and surveys the sky for changes in the weather, Focus Construction Contracts Supervisor Dean McCarthy looks more like someone working for the MetService rather than a Construction company. However, looking to the skies says McCarthy, is a key ingredient to successful leaky building remediation project planning.
“Understanding the weather patterns on a remediation site is crucial. Both in terms of anticipating which sides of a building are more exposed to the elements and also how we can make adjustments to how we work on a day-to-day basis, depending on what the weather is doing.”
The Mairangi Bay School Hall leaky building project McCarthy is working on commenced on July 1, with the construction elements of the job being expertly handled by Focus Construction Group. The 17-year-old Hall block has suffered from classic leaky building symptoms including poor drainage and inadequate flashings on roofs, doors and windows, resulting in rotten timber and structural damage.
The leaky issues of the building were first identified and addressed under the Ministry of Education’s Building Improvement Programme, which is funding the project. “The programme is extremely important for the health and safety of teachers and kids using these buildings every day,” says McCarthy. “If left untreated, the dampness can cause structural failure in severe cases. It can also lead to the growth of mould or fungi, which can cause respiratory issues for occupants”.
Focus Construction Group has a specialist company, called Focus Remediation, to deal with the specific challenges of leaky building. This has allowed a dedicated team with expertise and know-how to apply proven remediation techniques, with the advantage of working seamlessly with other parts of the group such as Focus Construction or Focus Interiors when required.
At Mairangi Bay School, Focus was brought in by Alexander architects to replace all of the affected timber and install better systems with improved drainage and airflow. The building now benefits from new cladding, new joinery, new flashings, new windows and new roofing. All installed and tailored specifically for that site and its weather conditions.
McCarthy explains, “We’ve looked closely at very specific parts of the building and identified risk areas. For example we have a number of welded flashings on the roof for high-risk junctions to ensure no moisture gets in whatsoever.” He continues, “We’ve also installed a new Ardex 2 layer membrane roof with a recessed drainage channel. This area of the building is particularly exposed to the elements so the system will make a huge difference.”
One of the very first pieces of work to be done on site was to create a full-scale model of the window system Focus were using to replace the existing windows. This replica window gave the building inspector and Alexander architects a 360-degree view of the complete system and all of the interacting components.
This attention to detail isn’t reserved exclusively for the building – McCarthy’s team are used to working in occupied spaces and follow specific guidelines to minimize disruption to teachers and students at the school whilst the work is carried out. Despite the high quality of workmanship evident, the project has progressed at a rapid pace, with completion due on December 1.
McCarthy glances at the Wind Report on his desk, telling him the speed, direction and gust levels of wind expected over the coming days. “Better tighten down the tarps tonight, looks like tomorrow’s going to be a howler.”