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While building codes go a long way towards ensuring quality and safety, there are instances when just meeting the building codes and standards isn’t the best option. Meeting the minimum requirements in these instances will afford you adequate quality of workmanship; however, in the case of waterproofing, it is sometimes better to go the extra mile.
It is important to note that we are not recommending that you exceed the requirements of every code and standard. In many cases, the minimum codes and standards prevent defects by requiring your builder to keep within specific parameters. Other codes and standards, such as the required level of waterproofing, are intended to ensure you have the minimum expected level of protection – but is that enough?
Any area in a building which has a supply of water is generally defined as a wet area. Rooms that qualify, as far as building codes and standards are concerned, are generally the bathroom, washrooms, kitchens, and sanitary compartments. However, some other rooms do not require waterproofing, including areas used to prepare food or drinks.
In wet areas, waterproofing systems are required to ensure that there is sufficient protection against water leaks or penetration. Note that waterproofing is not the same as damp proofing, which refers to the prevention of humidity or damp in a building.
Waterproofing systems are a combination of structures, membranes, and coatings, which are designed to prevent water penetration. The codes and standards require that wet rooms and certain wet walls are sufficiently waterproofed. However, you can get increased protection and achieve a higher level of waterproofing by exceeding the required minimums.
The best example of this is to completely waterproof wet walls rather than just meeting the minimum standards, which is 150mm around any wall penetrations. AS/NZS 4858 details the minimum requirements.
The code and standards are intended to offer minimum required protection in standard building applications. – However, damage from waterproofing failures can cause significant problems and is a massive area of litigation, and outcomes can be painful and far from certain.
When building or renovating, by exceeding the code with, for example, the application of waterproofing membrane to entire wet walls, your builder can reduce the risk of water penetration over time and provide greater peace of mind that your property will retain integrity and value into the future.