Proper Design and Construction Monitoring: How It Can Prevent Premature Failure of Your Building Envelope

Karim Allana
2 min readFeb 27, 2024

About two-thirds of all construction disputes are related to failures of waterproofing, either on the roof or through exterior walls. The roof accounts for less than 5 percent of a building’s construction cost, yet roof leaks alone can cause thousands to many millions of dollars in damage. Roofing and waterproofing systems can vary in life span from 8 to 40 years.

This is why it’s so critical to hire a qualified design and construction monitoring service to defend against such future issues.

Roofs can last up to 40 years, but most don’t

Surprisingly, older roofs that continue to perform well beyond the average age were built without any special materials. In fact, most of these roofs used plain-old asphalt, organic felts, and gravel surfacing.

A study of various roofing systems by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) analyzed their performance. The study shows that all types of roofing systems suffer from construction or design-related problems. These deficiencies rob most roofs of their useful life, causing premature failure.

Two factors that make a difference in the life expectancy of your roof

Even with the use of state-of-the-art materials, newly installed roofs and waterproofing systems can fail prematurely due to the oversight of crucial factors. Our analysis has revealed that the longevity of some systems hinges on two key elements: design and workmanship. Prioritizing these factors does not necessarily lead to higher construction costs.

Legal mandates necessitate the design and construction monitoring of structural components, ensuring that structural failures are a rare occurrence. However, since a building’s ability to repel water intrusion is not deemed life-threatening, it is not subject to regulatory oversight. Consequently, a significant number of roofing and waterproofing installations lack proper design and inspection during construction, resulting in significant problems.

The solution? By using an independent waterproofing expert to oversee both design and construction, you can substantially reduce the likelihood of design and workmanship errors.

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Karim Allana

Karim Allana is founder and CEO of Allana Buick & Bers. He is an industry leader in building envelope architectural engineering and construction management.