The Stakes Are Higher for High Risers
The inspection of masonry materials on high rise buildings is particularly important. There are many different building materials and features in most high rises. From the steel structure, brick walls, terra cotta cornices and copings, parapet walls, stone foundations, and many other examples. When dealing with high rise buildings, not only is deterioration in masonry harmful to the life of the structure, it can also be harmful or lethal to the general public. Even a small piece of masonry falling from a few stories can cause death.
Careful inspection of these masonry buildings by an experienced and competent mason helps to minimize this hazard. Not only is it the responsible and safe thing for building owners to do, but in 9 cities in America, it is also the law. Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and St Lois, all have “Facade Ordinances.” These ordinances typically require an inspection of the masonry of an occupied building every 5 years.
Unfortunately, these ordinances are typically passed after someone is injured or killed by falling masonry.
What Does Inspection Entail?
This inspection can be completed by an Engineer, Architect, or Competent masonry contractor. The intent is to perform a conditions assessment and document any changes in the masonry from the last inspection. This hands-on, brick by brick or stone by stone investigation work could entail many items.
- Inspection of the mortar joints - any voids or other deterioration
- Inspection of the masonry units - any cracks, delamination, loss of bond, etc
- Inspection of flashing and caulking
- Terracotta pieces and the structural supports
- Roofing membranes
During this inspection, the inspector/craftsman may also carefully remove loose and precarious masonry. This will help to reduce the immediate hazard.
Once the assessment has been completed, a scope of work can be developed and any repairs can be prioritized and completed.