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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Emeryville: Land Of Scaffolding And Tarps

Water Infiltration Plagues Emeryville Housing Development

In Emeryville the refrain has become: down comes the rain and up goes the scaffolding.
In new condo development after new condo development the story is the same; Emeryville housing is just not being built to withstand the elements.  Residents have seen the effects in the form of recently constructed buildings having scaffolding put up and temporary tarps thrown over while insurance company crews redo exterior cladding.  It's happening all over town.  The following is a partial list of affected housing projects recently completed:

  • Liquid Sugar Lofts
  • Oliver Lofts
  • Bridgecourt Apartments
  • Courtyard @ 65th 
  • Key Route Lofts 
  • Andante condos
  • The Terraces condos

The city council approved and encouraged a housing spike in the recent past and developers were happy to oblige.  A lot of money rapidly changed hands in our little town and there was a boom of housing construction before the market crash. Unfortunately the housing stock we acquired during the go-go years has turned out to be sub par.
The problem is construction defects.
Building Department Chief Victor Gonzales said the Building Department and its team of plan checkers and inspectors is not to blame.  "Pinholes made by a myriad of workers throughout the construction process contribute to water intruding" he said adding, "If it happens in the building envelope, there's no way of detecting it for years".
The building Department has created an in house policy that requires a third party testing agency that requires building mock-ups to ensure quality construction.  Mr Gonzales says affidavits of compliance are provided to the city ensuring proper waterproofing membranes are constructed, but still the problem persists.  Mr Gonzales insists there's nothing particular about Emeryville in this water problem, "It's happening up and down the State" he says.
One happy consequence of all the repair work is the influx of insurance money stimulating the local economy.  Still, there are probably better ways to lower the unemployment percentage than the constant rebuilding of recently built construction projects.


  1. Andante at 1121 40th Street, has thus far, proven to be buttoned up tight. A few construction items were noted around the project, most of which were cosmetic and will be easy to repair. The Board took the developers to task, won their case and are currently the in the process of having these nonstructural items taken care of. Presently no water intrusion has been reported at the Andante and would hope that before posting a blanket statement as such, that you would be mindful of the facts and check your sources.

  2. The source for this story was the building department at the City of Emeryville.

  3. Goodness. I have been walking the Greenway for over a year. Just when construction stops on one building, it starts on another. I feel so sorry for the residents. I wonder if the builders/owners promised peaceful surroundings to the purchasers/renters.

  4. EIFS siding is the culprit! Google it and you will find a multitude of information. It traps any moisture that has penetrated the structure via caulk joints or improperly installed flashing or roof materials. Once trapped, the structure is doomed! Rot and mold will begin and if you're lucky, you will notice it sooner rather than later! There are class action lawsuits all over the country! "Barrier EIFS is sinister" and should be banned by the building department!

  5. Are the developers that build these projects allowed to continue building other projects in Emeryville? I would hope that if problems occur, all future permits for new projects be on hold with that group until the resolution of problems in prior developments. I would also hope that these developers would have to have some type of "deposit" set aside with the city in case of future problems.

  6. The source may have been the building department but you did not ask the right questions. Andante did indeed receive a construction defect settlement. However, none of the issues were structural and none related to water intrusion. The building department knows this and is currently processing the building permit for the work.

  7. To the above commenter- FYI, the question I asked for the story was "What are the major residential developments in town that have recently had water infiltration issues?"

  8. To the 8:44 AM commenter- Some of the developers that have produced substandard residences in Emeryville have been allowed to continue building. Wareham Development comes to mind, the builder of the Terraces on Horton Street. I am unaware of any deposit required by the city.

  9. Much of this is not NECESSARILY due to shoddy construction. I have heard (and this may or may not be true), that building code changes requiring structures be sealed to conserve energy has also meant they cannot vent, and as such moisture cannot escape.