February 08, 2019

Australia Must Improve Waterproofing Standards and Practices

Quality Waterproofing is Critical


For five Irish students and one Irish American, the date of June 16, 2015, should have been one in which they celebrated a 21st birthday party at an apartment in Berkeley, California.

Each of the six died, however, following the collapse of a balcony on the fifth floor where they were standing. Several others were injured.

Grief for families turned to outrage, however, when the California State Licensing Board subsequently ruled that the collapse had been caused by shoddy material selection and poor waterproofing workmanship, which had enabled dry rot and decay to set in within timber joists.

California is not the only state to experience problems. In New Zealand, a ‘leaky homes debacle’ saw tens of thousands of homes constructed which did not meet required watertightness standards.


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Australian Waterproofing Standards 

Paul Evans, Manager/Director of Findlay Evans Waterproofing and President of Australian Institute of Waterproofing (AIW), says the problem with waterproofing standards in Australia,  it stems from several areas.

"Amongst many architects, designers and building surveyors, understanding of waterproofing is poor.

This places the responsibility for ensuring waterproofing works are done correctly almost entirely onto the building contractor.

Unlike in Queensland, licensing of those conducting waterproofing work in Victoria is non-existent.  

NOTE: This means anyone in Victoria can undertake waterproofing work irrespective of their level of skill, knowledge or expertise."


Melbourne Waterproofers - Australian Institute of Waterproofing

Australian Institute of Waterproofing 

The Australian Institute of Waterproofing (AIW) is committed to raising 

waterproofing standards and training across Australia.

The AIW supports registration/ licensing of waterproofing trades to improve the standard of work.

The AIW is also involved in providing waterproofing training and best practices to all sectors of the building industry.

Over the few years, the AIW has collaborated with the Master Builders Association Victoria (MBAV) designing and scheduling a short course " "Waterproofing in Construction".

This course has been designed to educate  all construction industry professionals who have a responsibility to ensure a construction project is made watertight and perform correctly.


Master Builder Victoria

Master Builder Victoria

Effects of Leaking Balconies

“A leaky building syndrome is unfolding in Australia”, construction lawyer Kim Lovegrove wrote in this article HERE.

Balcony Defects Melbourne

This matters.

  • As shown above, poor waterproofing on balconies can be aesthetically an eyesore -  and may also lead to structural issues, such as concrete cancer, rotting wood and even to collapse.

  • Structural instability and collapse occurs within a concrete structure  when water ingress impacts the steel reinforcing bar, causing rust which swells and pushes concrete away from the bar.

  • Balconies also require appropriate drainage, sufficient expansion joints and must also be integrated to move with the existing building envelope.

  • A significant issue is waterproofing that fails, particularly in hi-rise apartment buildings, is water ingress to the apartment immediately below.

  • Water ingress can cause mold spores within unseen cavities (i.e walls and subfloor and tile sealants), which may then lead to sickness when entering ventilation systems.

Insurance companies report waterproofing is usually less than 1% of building costs but water leaks and subsequent damage represent approx 80% of building defects!

Leaking Balcony Repairs - Waterproofing

With effort in the right areas, prevention of water ingress within buildings can be improved. 

Original Article first published by Sourceable

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