Construction Forensics

Come home to quality.

Determining and Solving Problems

With more than four decades of experience in high-end build and design, the team at Von Salmi & Associates, Inc. are more than superior custom home builders—we are also your ultimate resource for building and site problem solving.

We have reviewed thousands of defects, and through these experiences we know where and what to look for.

Water Penetration Problem: Solved

Today, we’d like to share our solution for a difficult water penetration issue at a two-year-old, 8,000 square-foot single-family residence in the Boston Metro West area.

The homeowner had been dealing with water penetration through the foundation and window wells. The original builder was unable to correct the water intrusion after several months so the homeowner called Von Salmi & Associates, Inc. to ask for assistance.

Through a methodical fact-based approach, we were able to determine the source of the water penetration. Several errors during the build process had resulted in a catastrophic failure of the water-handling system. Gutter drainage piping was incorrectly installed and was undersized. Window wells leaked as there was no place to divert the accumulated water. The grades around the house were continually settling as the footing drains were not installed properly. As a result, silting in and no outlet to drain the water was ever installed. Seasonal ground water is very high in this location, and no attempt had been made to alleviate this.

The entire site had to be excavated. Styrene insulation was removed from the foundation, and the damp proofing was covered with waterproofing. A 2” insulating drainage mat was applied to the surface to protect the waterproofing and disperse any hydraulic pressure resulting from the high ground water table. A new footing drain system with a mechanical outlet was installed with a generator backup. New properly sized and pitched downspout drains were introduced. The paving system had been incorrectly installed and was removed. Once the deep excavation work was properly completed the proper base was installed and the paving was re-installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Soils around the house were amended to facilitate proper drainage and the landscaping was correctly reinstalled.

The result: The homeowner has a completely dry basement with no water penetration from the outside and incurred no expense as all repairs were paid by the builder.