What are all these problems with Split Faced Block?

Asked by Dominic Valenti, Chicago, IL Wed Jul 27, 2011

No matter where there’s a water problem with a building it’s always in the discussion. Most of these that I’ve seen actually have flashing, roofing and design issues. Please help cast a little light on this.

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Naaman G. La…, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Thu Jul 28, 2011
Split faced block must be sealed. ALL masonry wall systems allow for some water penetration. Flashing is very important. Also, many walls are porrly detailed and do not allow for a gap between the masonry and the framing insulation and drywall assembly. Providing a gap and including a vapor barrier will help keep moisture from transferring directly thru the wall. If you have any further questions feel free to contact me. As an architect, I can help you put together a set of details that will help to solve these kinds of issues. Good luck.
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Ross Neag, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Wed Aug 10, 2011

I wouldn't lump an all brick building into the "premium price" category as many are having just as many issues as split face block is, sometimes even worse. We've spent the past few years working with owners, associations, architects, the lot....to get a better handle on how to stop water penetration. Even in well designed walls and materials we are seeing massive intrusion due to brick selection and failed drainage planes or air gaps. Before my fingers get sore, I'll shut up. I'd like to go to sleep without visions of plastic vapor barriers and mold stained sheathing.
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Michael Hobbs, , Chicago, IL
Thu Jul 28, 2011
Another thing to take into consideration is all of the negative experiences people have had, plus the large expenses they have incurred shortly after buying an 'all-new' condo only to be hit with a special assessment to seal the block. Many buyers are not seeking 'not split faced block' in favor of all brick construction and definitive price premiums are arising in a number of markets for the superior construction of all brick developments.

No matter what you may elect to use on your next project, hopefully, are you or will be soon electing to construct again (or at least re-develop existing real estate)....as this market needs some jolts of positive energy on the way to a sustainable rebound!

Michael Hobbs
PahRoo Appraisal & Consultancy
Web Reference:  http://www.pahroo.com
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Dominic Vale…, , Chicago, IL
Wed Jul 27, 2011
Thanks everyone. My suspicions now are confirmed by your collective responses. I can see by the architectural appointments that most of these structures are of poor design and were constructed by persons slighly above slave labor status. It's unfortunate that this series of events is now set into motion hordes of "snake oil salesmen" hawking quick expensive repairs missing only Billy Mays as their spokesman. It's unfortunate that so many will bear this expense.
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Scott Siegel, Agent, Evanston, IL
Wed Jul 27, 2011
I agree with my compatriots and Ross (with whom I've worked in the past). It boils down to a dangerous concoction of municipal fee whoring, developer cost-cutting and planned obsolescence with a sprinkle of lackadaisicality thrown in for good measure.

I mean, drip wicks? Really? Have you ever seen an original vintage structure in Chicago with drip wicks?

The mere presence of drip wicks (and scaffolding within three years of new construction) is the prima facia evidence that this material is inferior and problem-laden.

Just sayin'
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Ross Neag, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Wed Jul 27, 2011
A whole thread can also be found here on Trulia: http://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Buying/What_is_your_opinio…

No one really brings up the fact that most of the wall profiles and insulation choices for these buildings are wrong. It mostly starts with the architect designing an improper plan, the City stamps and says 'Thanks for the fees!', the builder poorly executes said plan and gets Cert of Occupancy and vanishes, untrained inspectors give thumbs up (for most part), consumer gets screwed.

Caveat emptor.
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Barb Van Ste…, , 60625
Wed Jul 27, 2011
Dominic, you are a builder and I am sure you know it is about the usage of materials and the application process. Biggest factor I see, form some of the top masonry guys that I have used is that there is no drip edge at the top whether the wall be all split faced block or split faced block with siding on top. It boils down to the quality of the material, proper usage and application. I agree with Joe that come in about 10 years, we will see the evidence of the short cuts that the City of Chicago Building Department has allowed.

Barb Van Stensel
Keller Williams Lincoln Square
2156 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60618
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Joe Schiller, Agent, Chicago, IL
Wed Jul 27, 2011
because the buiding codes in chicago allow for the cheapest split face block to be used and its garbage..if a builder were to use higher quality split I can appreciate that the problems would not need to be so foucused onthe product but they normally do not use the heavier block. That being said I agree.. most problems are flashing, and roof design issues that put un necessary wear and tear on the block...its not a bad product, its a cheap product. Its crazy but the average building from 1980 erected in chicago's multiunit market is in terrible shape.. the quality of construction is so poor and they are all starting to blow up.. this uglyness is just starting rear its head.. we live in a throw away society and these condo are going to continue to de valuse like noones business in the nest 10 years.. a lot of crap for the most part.
Web Reference:  http://www.joeschiller.net
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