Most people contact us about rain leak testing. However, it’s a small fraction of what we do:
Forensic Services

Kaz specializes in architectural glazing. He is one of the very few individuals in the world who can tell what’s wrong with a piece of glass, who or what damaged it,  how, and why.

We conduct cause & origin observation and analysis, as well as determination of code requirements with regard to repairs and alterations of grandfathered buildings. We separate damage from pre-existing conditions. We perform like-kind repair analyses and preliminary cost estimates, particularly in those areas, such as the architectural glazing, that are known to be poorly covered by standard estimating tools such as Xactimate. We understand the language of insurance policies. Below is the list of our forensic services:

  • Assistance in evaluation of casualty & property damage
  • Cause & origin investigations/analyses
  • Remediation design
  • Preliminary cost estimates
  • Like-kind repair analyses
  • Review of building documentation
  • Code analyses
  • Building-code violations
  • Identification of standard of care
  • Risk management analyses
  • Due diligence audits
  • Ownership transition (take-over) assessments
  • Underwriting assistance
  • Negotiations with contractors
  • Glass Breakage Investigations
  • Air, water, thermal, and structural testing
  • Construction dispute resolution assistance
  • Pre-existing conditions evaluation
  • Failure, damage, wear and tear evaluation
  • Depositions and court testimony

Field and Laboratory Testing

We perform and witness physical tests in the field and in a laboratory setting to identify potential deficiencies and their sources. We follow procedures established by major industry associations and building codes and we also develop custom tests, modifying the equipment to address specific field conditions. We follow calibration procedures for our testing equipment.

The most typical tests include:

  • Thermal imaging of building envelope assemblies, by ASTM C 1060 “Standard Practice for Thermographic Inspection of Insulation Installations in Envelope Cavities of Frame Buildings,”
  • Water and air tests for diagnosing cladding and fenestration leaks:
  • ASTM E1105 “Standard Test Method for Field Determination of Water Penetration of Installed Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors, and Curtain Walls”,
  • ASTM E783 “Standard Test Method for Field Measurement of Air Leakage Through Installed Exterior Windows and Doors,”
  • AAMA 501.2 “Quality Assurance and Diagnostic Water Leakage Field Check of Installed Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems,”
  • Thermal imaging for wet materials, insufficient or wet insulation, and air leaks, following the ASTM standard C1153, titled “Standard Practice for Location of Wet Insulation in Roofing Systems Using Infrared Imaging,”
  • Hydrostatic pressure (flood) tests for roofs and waterproofing ASTM D5957 “Standard Guide for Flood Testing Horizontal Waterproofing Installations,”
  • Hydrostatic pressure tests for storm drainage and other plumbing leaks following IBC and FBC plumbing code,
  • Wind field uplift resistance tests for hurricane winds following TAS 114 and 124,
  • Non-invasive roof wetness evaluation,
  • Glass evaluation and measurements of scratches and other potential blemishes and deficiencies,
  • Window and door framing evaluation and measurements for straightness and other potential deficiencies.
  • Air leakage tests using “blower door” fan pressurization ASTM E779, and ASTM E 1827 “Standard Test Methods for Determining Airtightness of Buildings Using an Orifice Blower Door,”
  • Smoke tests for air and water leaks,
  • Acoustic tests for air and water leaks.
  • Borescope (narrow scope camera) investigations of concealed spaces such as the air gap behind cladding (also including sewer camera tests).
  • Sealant pull tests by ASTM C1193 “Standard Guide for Use of Joint Sealants,”
  • Coating pull tests by ASTM D 4541 “Standard Test Method for Pull-Off Strength of Coatings Using Portable Adhesion Testers,”
  • Glass VLT and SHGC measurements in the field,
  • Spectrophotometry in range 180-1100nm (Beckman DU 640) – i.e. glass matching applications
  • Turtle Code Testing (Glass VLT),
  • Architectural glass measurements and verification
  • Collection of gypsum board samples for sulfur laboratory testing in suspected “Chinese” or “Farting” drywall cases,
  • Long-term moisture monitoring with dataloggers and callers,
  • Long-term energy consumption monitoring with dataloggers,
  • Salt attack testing,
  • Moisture content testing in forced-ventilation oven

Computer Modeling and Simulations

We assist designers and attorneys in analyses and presentations of physical processes before or after these processes have occurred in buildings. We offer a variety of computer simulations addressing various aspects of building performance, such as thermal, moisture, optical, solar, daylight, acoustic, and air (wind) movement. We specialize in 3 dimensional computer simulations.

Building Enclosure Commissioning Services

We conduct periodic building enclosure construction observations in the field (watching over contractor’s shoulder).

Consulting – Facade Engineering University

We are here to respond to your questions. Some examples are listed below:

Not sure which way insulation should be installed? You asked the home improvement store clerk, your contractor, your architect, read the printed instructions, and finally called your manufacturer, and still doubt the answer they gave you? Unfortunately, you are right. In our experience, they often provide a wrong answer. In the South, the foil almost always should go outside. A reverse installation would result in a failure that would be very expensive to re-mediate. All it takes is a simple call to find out.

Not sure which windows to choose? Three estimates you received left you even more confused? You are not alone. In our experience, most replacement decisions were proven to be irrational when facts were examined later.

My kid is sick since I replaced all windows and doors with new storm-proof assemblies. Why?  This question was asked by a mechanical engineer, who should have already known the answer to this question.  Building enclosure and HVAC are interrelated; you need to adjust one when you modify another.

Not sure which sealer you should choose? We compared several stone sealers in a common industry accelerated-aging bench testing. Three sealers shortened the life of the tested limestone in comparison to an untreated sample.  Isn’t it wonderful? The best things in life are free!

Which way should a spandrel/shadow box be drained/vented? This is the #1 most frequently asked question we get from glazing contractors. They often get badly burned on projects where these assemblies fail, and prefer to spend a couple of bucks on prevention. The individual answers depend on project location, function, and other conditions.

How should a curtain wall head becoming a roof parapet wall be detailed? This is the most frequent question we get from architects. The funny thing is they sometimes send us details provided by industry associations such as RCI, and verified by their building envelope consultants. These were invariably wrong, so it’s good they asked.

What glass should be specified? This is a question we wish we would get more often from architects. Based on results of our forensic testing, architects often choose the wrong glass for a specific application. Results range from oppressively uncomfortable, through outrageously expensive, to unsafe, and most often illegal. Based on our casual survey, architects typically leave glass specification to salespeople;  results may vary.

What technical specifications should I reference in my contract? This is a question we wish we would get more often from legal counsel of owners. It’s amazing what contractors can get away with, simply because owners eliminated any legal recourse they might have had.

How can I find a source of rain leak?  You need to diagnose it. Is your wall CBS?

You can test your knowledge in the trivia, which test Kaz developed for architects many years ago.  He also provides seminars in person and on DVDs.

What We Do NOT Do (Disclaimers):

  • Although we may wear worse clothes, speak less fluently, and have better tools than your average contractor, we are NOT a contractor. We won’t conduct any permanent repairs. There are only a hundred or so facade physicians in the U.S., contrasted with over 40 million contractors, so it’s a matter of supply and demand and the most efficient application of knowledge and skills.
    If we temporarily patch a leak (as we often do after we have found the leak), it’s a temporary repair designed to buy you just enough time to procure a reputable, knowledgeable, skilled, experienced, licensed, and bonded contractor. It’s not intended to last, and do not expect us to provide any warranty for this work.
    (If you ARE a contractor in caulking/window restoration/glazing remediation/masonry repointing/roofing repair/scaffolding business, we want to have your contact information. Finding local contractors is a hassle, and finding a good contractor can be a matter of luck.)
  • Facade diagnostics and consulting are our primary business, and we are often hired by architects and engineers for peer reviews, specification development, and facade engineering.  Therefore, our company is NOT licensed for design and engineering in any jurisdiction. If you need a signed and sealed drawing set, you’d better hire a firm and ask them to hire us as their consultants. According to our estimates,  architects outnumber facade physicians  by a thousand to one in the U.S., so it’s a matter of supply and demand.
  • We customize our testing in order to identify deficiencies. We also test transitions between assemblies, as opposed to verifying a faulty assembly, which is a goal of a typical industry testing standard. Therefore our services are more suitable for existing buildings, as opposed to new buildings, and we are NOT an AAMA, NFRC, etc. accredited laboratory. If all you need is a pass/fail report, there are many companies that specialize in new construction testing, and we could probably supply their telephone numbers.
  • We do NOT diagnose plumbing, swimming pools, etc.  Call a plumber instead, there are over 100,000 of them in the U.S. They are relatively inexpensive, and some of them do diagnostics. (However, we have had calls about building enclosures that were diagnosed by plumbers, and their owners were still trying to fix the problem, so it may not be a very good idea.)
  • We do NOT work directly with  single-family house (SFR) owners. We work on single-family houses (SFR) only if retained by an attorney handling a case.