Talk with Mike Funk about water management in residential construction and you’ll hear the year 2000 mentioned … a lot.

It was just about then our ideas of water management changed, thanks to a wave of costly lawsuits. Funk remembers that dark time well.

“Before then, home building was focused on structural issues. Was it built strong? Was it straight? Building science wasn’t given much thought,” recalls Funk, a veteran building construction coach for David Weekley Homes.

A single word – mold -- changed that virtually overnight. The news inspired several initiatives, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Program. “I worked with them to build probably over 100 test homes over the last 20 years. We investigate rainscreen water management and other issues” Funk says.

Keep at It

Changing building code and home builder best practice have advanced the industry far over the last two decades. But Funk admits vigilance can slip. “You have to keep at it and understand what’s at stake. It can be tempting to cut corners and downgrade to less costly materials. But why face warranty claims?” Funk asks.

Today’s ever-tightening homes put a corresponding level of expectation on the builder to get water management right. In the old days, black felt (tar) paper may have been plenty to keep water at bay. There were even attempts to double-wrap with felt paper or use crinkled materials on the reasonable belief it promoted ventilation. However, a nail exerting 1,200 psi can quickly flatten that gap and the idea with it.

3 Lessons

Miguel Gonzales, a long-time student of building science and former LBM dealer, has some suggestions to offer. Gonzeles, who runs Tamlyn, a Texas-based building products manufacturer, works closely with Funk and other building scientists to engineer and manufacture tested water management solutions. Here are three general principles he offers builders:

  1. Think Like a Millennial. “I give credit to the Millennials. They definitely do their homework. They research products. They go out of their way to protect their assets and business,” Gonzales says.
  2. Invest in the Wall. “I haven’t heard a single story where a home builder was sued because a gold faucet was scratched,” the industry pro says. “But the minute the building envelope takes water in, you’re in legal peril. Protect yourself. Don’t shortchange the envelope.”
  3. Three Scary Words. “Be wary of ‘ease of installation.’ There’s a good possibility something is hiding in those words,” Gonzales cautions.

Gonzales and his team follow the science and the advice of Funk and others. TamlynWrap Drainable Wrap is a good example of that. The wrap features 1.5 mm spacers bonded to a 19 perm-rated wrap. The built-in gap drains water 2x faster than other drainable wraps.

For Funk and Gonzales, effective water management is more than good business, it’s a matter of pride. “Most builders I know try to do the right thing,” Funk says. “That often means going way beyond code to do it.”

Learn more on how to protect your properties from callbacks and warranty claims caused by water problems.