The effectiveness of previous repairs depends on originally design, construction and on going maintenance.
Whether you are taking care of a boat, a fleet of jets, or a multifamily foundation, the process is the same. Good planning and execution go a long way.
While foundation investigations and repairs can be necessary, it can also be beneficial to simply do nothing. The best mitigation technique for foundation work is to consult a pro. Engineers and contractors all have varying methods of repairs.
If you complained of foot pain and the first doctor you went to said you needed to amputate immediately, would you want a second opinion?
What if the second doctor said try some new inserts in your shoes and stretch more?
There is a lot of “snake oil” sold every day in this country related to foundation repairs. Shop around. Ask tough questions. A new set of gutters, some extra soil to slope water away from the building, and drywall repairs can do wonders for a 40-year old property (and your capex budget).
Avoid pressed-pile foundation repair methods as much as possible. Think how your foundation would perform if it were broken into several smaller pieces instead of one big slab. What if the contractor who broke it said, “Yup, you need more piers to fix your ongoing foundation issues.”
Roof Coverings and Framing
Poor materials, long-term water damage, and bad workmanship can lead to rapid deterioration of roofing. Exposed OSB decking will fall apart after repeated exposure to moisture. Shoddy framing and sloppy construction can lead to sagging roof decking, causing even more concerns.
When checking out roofs (usually from the ground level), you can take a very simple approach.
Ask yourself, “What like these is not like the others?”
Are there missing shingles?
Do the shingles look old and worn?
Can you see sagging between the rafters or trusses?
Are roof eaves and edges irregular or straight?
These signs can indicate potential trouble at the roof. Due to the depth of insulation typically found in attics, a building can leak for days, weeks, or even months before signs of water intrusion are visible.
Most 3-tab or architectural laminated shingles should last about 15 years. Depending on the roof slope, the climate, and the workmanship of the installation, roofing materials can deteriorate at a faster rate.
Re-roofing and repairing deteriorated decking can improve a roof’s overall performance. Depending on the original construction, additional purlins, bracing, and other framing could be needed to prevent further sagging of the roof.
Look, wood will stretch and sag over an extended period of time [think plastic not elastic]. It should not sag so much that your roof has a visible ripple or dip.
Grading and Drainage
Undersized or damaged gutters, negatively sloped landscape beds, tiny area drains, and horrible paving can lead to ponding water around the property. You may even have water intrusion at first-level buildings where the ponding is severe enough.
If you are lucky enough to tour a property during or right after rainstorm, congrats! That is by far the best case scenario to discover potential drainage issues.
If you are not that lucky, some simple questions can help you determine if there are concerns with ponding water.
Are the gutters and downspouts connected with no signs of erosion or washout at the base of the buildings?
Do the landscape beds have mulch and slope away from the buildings [think “downhill”]?
Do you see several 12”x12” inch green yard drains throughout the property?
Does the pavement and parking have evidence of standing water (i.e., lots of dirt and debris in one place)?
A simple yet good tactic is to review the property on Google Earth's desktop version to see if you are able to observe a pattern of drainage issues using available historical imagery.
New gutters, soil, mulch and concrete drainage blocks can all help push water away from your buildings. When trying to mitigate ponding water, avoid the use of 12”x12”‘area (or “yard”) drains if possible. These boxes and below-grade drain lines are great for contractors to sell you several $1,000 worth of work. However, their actual performance leaves a lot to be desired.
Instead, we typically find that re-working the natural drainage areas to carry water faster along the surface of the ground is more effective at moving water off the property. Some readers may know this technique as “sheet flow.” It’s simple. Have a landscaper or contractor dig a ditch deep enough that it creates a natural channel to funnel water during heavy rainstorms.
Pavement and parking drainage issues are usually a little more costly to take care of. Again, keep it simple and slope your asphalt or concrete surface down hill. Make sure your contractor is explicit with the quantities and locations of the work.
Wood Destroying Pests (aka termites)
Depending on the location of the property in the continental U.S., drywood and/or subterranean termites could be eating away at the wood framing. These little guys can quickly eat their way through 2x wood framing affecting sill plates, entire wall sections, rafters and more.