A façade inspection is a proactive step in ensuring the long-term safety, structural integrity, value and aesthetic appeal of your building. Regular inspections ensure potential hazards and defects in the building’s exterior are identified early on before they escalate into major issues. A façade inspection helps building owners and strata managers to stay ahead of costly repair bills and effectively manage preventative maintenance.

What is checked in a façade inspection?

A façade inspection primarily focuses on evaluating the integrity of the façade, identifying any safety hazards, and detecting maintenance issues. This involves examining elements such as the building materials, façade attachments, joints, sealants and weatherproofing systems. 

Additionally, inspections may include assessing the condition of windows, balconies, cladding, and other exterior components. To give you a better understanding of the work that our rope access technicians perform when auditing a building’s façade, we’ve created a comprehensive façade maintenance checklist.

How often should a façade be inspected?

The recommended frequency of façade inspections varies based on the current condition of the building. If the façade is in excellent condition, inspections every five years are sufficient. For facades in fair condition, inspections every two to three years are recommended, while facades in poor condition should be inspected yearly.

Important façade maintenance issues that inspections can identify early

Concrete Spalling or Concrete Cancer

Concrete Spalling or Concrete Cancer is the result of the corrosion of the embedded steel reinforcing beneath the facade’s surface. Where the rust occupies more volume than the original steel the resultant pressure spalls the concrete, deforming the exterior and weakening it significantly. 

A façade inspection will ensure any concrete spalling is discovered early, allowing cost-effective repairs. If left untreated, the compromised concrete can quickly lead to serious structural problems requiring extensive and expensive remediation works.

Cracks in the render

Shrinkage or thermal movement in façade render or masonry can lead to unsightly cracks in the render, particularly around windows and doors which are more susceptible to expansion. These cracks not only detract from the appearance of the building but also accelerate the aging of the render system, reducing its lifespan. 

If left unaddressed, these small cracks inevitably grow into large cracks, necessitating extensive restoration work. Regular façade inspection allows for early identification and prompt sealing of identified cracks to prevent moisture penetration and potential long-term structural problems.

Cement render delamination

Delamination of the cement render on a building’s façade can be caused by a variety of factors such as an incorrect mix ratio of sand, cement, and bonding agent during installation, moisture entrapment between the render and the substrate, and building movement. The results are brittle, flaky façade surfaces that will seriously degrade the building’s visual aesthetic and value.

To address cement render delamination, any loose or drummy render must be carefully removed until reaching a stable surface. It is crucial to identify and fix the underlying cause of the render’s failure before preparing the area adequately for the application of new render.

Bubbling and peeling paint coatings

Bubbling or peeling paint coatings not only look bad, but they also fail to perform their primary role of acting as a protective layer from UV, moisture and pollutants for the substrate. If left unidentified and untreated, these issues can shorten the facade’s lifespan and dramatically increase maintenance costs.

These issues with external coatings occur when the coating film has lifted away from the underlying surface due to a lack of adhesion. This often indicates moisture intrusion, which can lead to structural problems and mould growth if not promptly dealt with. Identifying the underlying cause of the failure of the coating is key to an effective repair. Once that cause is identified and rectified, the affected coating can be stripped back and a new coating applied.

Deteriorated expansion / control joints

These joints play a critical role in accommodating the natural movement and expansion of building materials due to temperature fluctuations, settling, or structural changes. Failing to address deteriorated expansion or control joints can lead to significant issues by allowing water ingress to enter the building substrate causing internal damage and blistering of the external coating.

A façade inspection will ensure any deteriorated joints are identified and rectified early, so that potential water intrusion can be mitigated, protecting the building’s integrity and preventing costly repairs down the line. The repair or replacement of expansion joints will also ensure a cohesive and visually pleasing façade, enhancing the building’s curb appeal and preserving its value.

Deteriorated window seals

Window seals play a critical role in preventing air and water intrusion into the building envelope, providing thermal insulation and protecting against moisture damage. If left untreated, compromised window seals typically lead to increased energy consumption, mould issues and structural damage that can require extensive restoration work.

Inspection and rectification of the window sealant both of the glass to the window frame, and of the window frame to the façade edge, ensures a watertight seal from the elements is maintained across all the windows in your building’s façade.

Summary

Regular façade inspection is important for ensuring the safety, structural integrity, and aesthetic appeal of your building. Building owners and managers should schedule regular façade inspections with a reputable rope access service provider to ensure preventative maintenance is taken care of and their building’s aesthetic appeal and value is maintained. 

This article highlights several important façade maintenance issues that façade inspections can identify. Early rectification of these issues is essential in preventing more significant and costly structural problems from developing.

If you have concerns about the condition of your building’s façade or questions about our rope access façade inspection services, reach out to our friendly team for expert advice.

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Author Bio

Brad Love is a veteran of the rope access painting and decorating industry, with over 47 years of experience under his belt. Brad is the Service Design and Estimator at Anchor Safe Rope Access and a trusted voice in the painting and decorating community

Anchor Safe Rope Access

Proudly Australian-owned and backed by the strength of a national height safety leader, Anchor Safe Rope Access are proven and respected provider of external high-rise cleaning, painting and maintenance in Sydney. Our Rope Access teams are highly skilled and accredited height safety specialists as well as trade-certified technicians, so you can trust Anchor Safe Rope Access to provide award-winning services at competitive prices.

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