How to prevent water damage in new home construction

  • Articles
  • Apr 29,22
New homes can be vulnerable to sources of water damage like malfunctioning piping or rain during and after the construction process. Emily Newton offers tips for construction companies to prevent water damage when building a new home.
How to prevent water damage in new home construction

Water damage is a major cause of loss during construction. Any new home will be vulnerable to it — often due to weather or a plumbing failure — during the entire construction process.

In most cases, preventing water damage is cheap and straightforward with the right planning. 

These best practices will help any construction company prevent water damage when building a new home. 

What causes water damage in new home construction?
Until the home is waterproofed — including the installation of roofs, wall systems and doors — all building and construction materials will remain vulnerable to water damage. 

Some building materials can withstand limited exposure to inclement weather. Many can also be dried once wet, preventing long-term water damage. Other items can become damaged quickly if left exposed to the elements or indoor sources of moisture. 

All building materials can be vulnerable to water damage over time, and many types may become the perfect environment for mold growth.

Water damage usually comes from one or more sources — often intrusion from the outside or inside or in the form of bulk water like rain. Inside water sources can include leaking pipes, floodwater, condensation caused by air leaks or vapor diffusion.

In most cases, bulk water from rain will be the primary threat contractors must manage. However, awareness of risks — like burst pipes or low-lying areas where water can pool — is essential to prevent damage.

Prevent water damage at every step in home construction
It can be expensive or time-consuming, but it’s almost always possible to prevent water damage during new home construction with the right preparation. Different phases of the process require various techniques to protect building materials.

Before construction begins
The construction company must develop a construction quality (QA/QC) framework during the preconstruction phase if it does not have one already. It will describe procedures for ensuring the building’s design meets quality standards and define the business’s quality control checks. 

QC checks may include verifying subcontractor qualifications, ensuring drawings are signed properly and confirming building materials are up to quality standards.

The company should also evaluate the project, design documents and site for potential water damage risks. It should review drainage and determine how building materials will be kept safe from the elements.

Planning the installation and testing of home plumbing, along with other water systems, should happen as early as possible. Doing this will help the company catch any design mistakes or oversights as soon as it can. Leveraging construction tools like BIM to plan plumbing systems may make design oversights easier to identify.

For example, different structures may need various flood protection systems. Determining if a new home requires a sump pump or standing pump before site activity begins will help protect the building from water damage during and after construction.

During the construction process
The company should have a dedicated point-person throughout the construction process, like a quality director, who ensures workers follow the QA/QC framework and necessary quality control checks are carried out. In addition to company employees, the quality director should also manage subcontractors and ensure their work is up to standards.

The quality director may use techniques like punch lists, audits and documentation to ensure the execution of the QA/QC framework during construction.

Employing some of these water damage prevention best practices during the construction process can also help keep building materials safe:
  • Sloping structures, like balconies, to prevent water pooling
  • Using flashings to protect areas like window and door openings, fixture penetrations and wall intersections
  • Priming materials and sealing as necessary for waterproofing
  • Installing tarps, enclosures and other forms of temporary water protection
Together with the execution of the QA/QC framework, these best practices will help minimize water damage risk during construction. 

After construction is complete
Water tightness testing of building components, like the roof, will help the company ensure the new home has a waterproof envelope. Testing and monitoring the plumbing system before the project is closed out will also be important. Otherwise, leaky pipes or malfunctioning sprinkler systems could lead to significant water damage.

Even once construction is complete, repairs and upkeep may be necessary to protect the home from water damage before the project is closed out completely. As a result, the construction company should maintain a team that will respond to potential problems as they arise and perform basic, routine maintenance tasks for a period after work is complete.

These practices keep new homes safe from water damage
New homes can be vulnerable to sources of water damage like malfunctioning piping or rain during and after the construction process. Companies can mitigate or prevent problems by using a QA/QC framework, conducting damage prevention preplanning and designating a quality director. The right practices can help companies keep new homes safe from water damage and ensure a satisfactory end result.

About the author:
Emily Newton is a tech and industrial journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. Subscribe to the Revolutionized newsletter for more content from Emily.

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