Building Envelope

The term “building envelope” refers to the exterior cladding, roof, roof drainage system, windows, doors and foundation of a building. The vast majority of building envelope claims involve water penetration that damages sheathing, framing or other building components. Building codes typically require that construction be water tight. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, many buildings are constructed in a manner or with materials that allow water infiltration in violation of the applicable building codes. This usually occurs for one of three reasons:

  • Design errors;
  • Defective materials were used;
  • Deficient construction methods were used.

A careful evaluation of the building by a qualified expert is necessary in order for you to understand the condition of the building, the causes of any deficiencies in design, materials or construction methods, and the extent of the damages resulting therefrom. Once that information is compiled, counsel can help you determine what your options are for recovering your damages and getting your building fixed.

1. Design errors: A sampling of some of the common design errors we have encountered in high rise construction, mid-rise construction, condominium construction and in office building construction include:

  • Structural design errors that cause exterior decks to collapse;
  • Roof trusses and floor trusses that are improperly designed, causing interior walls and floors to deflect, crack and warp;
  • Foundations that are improperly designed, causing the foundations to collapse;
  • Roof systems that are inadequately designed, causing ice damming, leaking and structural failure;
  • Fire suppression systems that have been improperly designed, causing uninsulated CPVC pipes to freeze and burst;
  • HVAC systems that are improperly designed, causing condensation to form on the HVAC ducts, which, in turn, causes water drops to damage the ceilings of units;
  • Plumbing systems improperly designed such that uninsulated sanitary sewer pipes running through a high rise building freeze inside an uninsulated, unheated garage, causing effluent to back-up and destroy the interior of portions of the building;

2. Defective Materials: A sampling of some of the defective materials we have encountered includes:

  • Exterior Insulation and finish system (“EIFS”) which are face sealed barriers to water penetration. We have handled over 100 cases involving EIFS;
  • Fiberglass coatings used on wood framed decks;
  • FRT plywood;
  • Many different windows and doors;
  • Thin brick systems used as exterior wall cladding;
  • Chinese Dry Wall

3. Deficient Workmanship: This is the most common cause of building envelope deficiencies. Virtually every facet of construction has been implicated in the cases we have handled over many years. A representative sampling includes:

  • Decks that collapsed because support columns were not installed concentrically and were improperly anchored;
  • Fire suppression systems that were destroyed by environmental stress cracks caused by the contractor’s negligence in filling the CPVC pipes with antifreeze containing a mix of water and glycols rather than water and glycerin;
  • Concrete tile roofs that had to be replaced because of multiple deficiencies including non-pressure-treated wood furring strips which rotted, missing ice and water shield, improper and missing flashings and improper venting which caused ice-damming, damaged sheathing and framing and caused severe mold;
  • shingle roofs that had to be replaced due to lack of ice and water shield, paper lapped backwards, missing flashings, improper ventilation and pitch pockets that were unsealed, allowing water infiltration which damaged structural framing and sheathing and caused significant mold;
  • High rise construction failures including improper installation of exterior stucco and EIFS panels which resulted in catastrophic damage to sheathing and framing and massive mold
  • EIFS, stucco, brick, fiber cement panels, stone, thin brick, vinyl siding, cedar siding and other exterior cladding materials installed improperly allowing water infiltration causing damage to sheathing and framing;
  • Balconies constructed of prefabricated filigree slabs that were cantilevered improperly, causing the balconies to be back-pitched, leading to water infiltration that damages sheathing and framing;
  • Electrical, plumbing, HVAC and fire suppression systems improperly installed causing damage to building components.

Multiple locations to better serve your needs—

Princeton, NJ

993 Lenox Dr, Building 2
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Phone: 609.896.9060
Secondary phone: 800.535.3425
Fax: 609.896.0629
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Marlton, NJ

40 Lake Center, 401 NJ-73, Suite 130
Marlton, NJ 08053
Phone: 856.874.4443
Secondary phone: 888.241.7424
Fax: 856.874.0133
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Yardley, PA

777 Township Line Road, Suite 120
Yardley, PA 19067
Phone: 267.907.9600
Fax: 267.907.9659
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New York, NY

5 Pennsylvania Plaza 23rd Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 800.535.3425
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Philadelphia, PA

The Bellevue 200 S Broad St #600
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: 267.907.9600
Secondary phone: 800.535.3425
Fax: 215.564.6245
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Bridgeton, NJ

78 W Broad St
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Phone: 856.874.4443
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