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Weekend Argus 29 May 2011 – Maintenance involves more than superficial repairs

Bodies Corporate and building owners know the difficulties faced in their maintenance obligations. In many cases the biggest problem is available budget for the enormous repair bill that arises after years of ignoring visible signs of deterioration. According to Western Cape’s largest painting, waterproofing and restoration professionals, Indawo, repair costs can be significantly reduced if a responsible construction philosophy is adopted, correct procedures are followed and the right products are used during building and maintenance.

Restoring the exterior of all 67 units at Kaapse Draai, a cluster complex in Bellville, highlighted typical symptoms that fast-track structural deterioration:
Damp caused by inefficient damp-proofing at ground level,
Plaster cracks from incorrect application or mix of plaster,
Structural cracks arising from ineffective expansion joints,
Paint peeling and superficial cracking from incorrect paint application and
Garage door and gate deterioration due to weather fluctuations, incorrect preventive measures and continuous exposure to wind, rain and sun.

Indawo Managing Director, Peter Jäck says, “The Western Cape, has an extreme climate and attention to detail is critical during construction and maintenance phases to avoid costly repairs later on. Kaapse Draai showed typical signs of severe weather-induced deterioration and structural damage arising from incorrect application of products or lack of preventive measures during routine maintenance.”

The project provided some challenges, but together with product supplier, Dulux Paints, Indawo identified causes of structural damage to select the right products. Dulux provided the project specification which, in itself, was a challenge in the identific underlying problems. Due to unusually high moisture levels trapped in the walls, Dulux substituted its Moisture Tolerant Primer, effective for moisture levels up to 30%, which they initially recommended, to Dulux Damp Shield, which is more resilient in the counteraction of levels up to 50%. Dulux Paints consulted with their Johannesburg technical team and chemist on site and, after assessing the damage, agreed to carry the costs to replace the primer and the additional material and labour needed for completion of the project. Such is the commitment Dulux has to their clients and the industry.

Before priming surfaces, Indawo recorded moisture level readings to ensure correct restoration procedures and application of primer and final coat. The project highlighted a significant fact; the choice of reputable contractors and suppliers is crucial to identify underlying technical problems that could lead to additional costs after a major repair project is completed.

An initial repair audit at Kaapse Draai revealed that damage could have been limited if adequate measures were implemented like sufficient damp-proofing, efficient expansion joints and the correct application of plaster, waterproofing, primers and paint. The scope of the project included:
• Minor repairs. Repairs to superficial cracks,
• Expansion Joints. Restoring the integrity of structures at strategic points along the outer perimeter of units,
• Damp repairs. Repair of external walls damaged by damp, a result of a number of years of water seeping into the walls.
• Cleanup. Tiled roof structures and tiles were cleaned using high pressure water-jetting equipment, gutters and downpipes. Indawo waterproofed flashings and replaced broken tiles to ensure no water could enter the interior of the unit.
• Painting. Indawo ensured the correct application of primer and final coat. Using the right product will not only guarantee the units remain aesthetically pleasing for many years, it strengthens wall surfaces to withstand a harsh climate.

Jäck continues, “Restoring townhouse complexes is not just a matter of surface repairs to maintain aesthetics. It involves a thorough audit of the causes of damage and correct application of the right products to ensure the cessation of deterioration and a reduction in future repair costs. A vital aspect of fixed asset ownership is a comprehensive maintenance strategy that takes into account the impact nature has on the external structure.”

Jäck offers some advice to maintain your building’s value:
• Surveillance. Regularly check the perimeter of your building, monitor cracks and damage caused by damp. Repairing a small damp spot is less costly than an entire wall.
• Clean surface areas. Ensure that gutters and roofs are kept clean and clear of leaves, sand and obstructions.
• Plant responsibly. When it comes to planning a garden, consult a horticulturist to ensure you plant the right trees and plants near walls. Different trees have different root systems and some can damage buildings. Commissioning a horticulturist adds value to your investment ensuring responsible landscaping that enhances the environment.

Jäck concludes, “While extreme weather remains a major cause of deterioration, paint manufacturers and contractors have become resilient, introducing techniques and products to withstand anything thrown at them. The fact is; use the right product and reputable contractor and you will be “safe as houses” when you do repairs to your fixed asset.”

Indawo Painting and Waterproofing can be contacted on 021 941 5000 or email info@indawo.biz.

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