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Of all the areas of potential damage and expense in building construction, waterproofing ranks at the top of the list. Too often the bear minimum approach is taken or inferior materials are used when waterproofing wet areas of a home, only to result in much further costs down the road.
Australian Standard AS 3740—2010 establishes the building code minimum criteria for wet areas in residential buildings. It covers design and installation considerations, materials to be used, sealants and adhesives for baths, and spas and showers.
While these specifications are deemed as adequate, to insure your home will be built to last through many years, it is well worth the added effort and expense to further protect your home’s wet areas. Notably, tiling areas are places where some extra waterproofing dollars will be a good investment.
It is normal for this phase of construction to get less attention to detail than it deserves. Typically, it’s one of the last areas to get finish, and when things get rushed, substrates are not allowed to dry fully, which leads to cracks, etc. These kinds of oversights rear their ugly heads later in the form of mould, wood rot and damaged subflooring, among other things.
Wherever there’s an alternative selection in sealants, waterproofing agents or other material that surpass rather than meet the code minimum for waterproofing your home, you would do well to opt for as many upgrades as your budget will allow. Apply the membrane to the entire wet wall area, buy premium sheeting where appropriate – you will be thankful you did in the long run.
Your builder will be able to explain what waterproofing options are available to you that are suitable for the building plan. It’s also a good idea to enlist the aid of a licensed professional building inspector, who can advise you of sensible waterproofing options pertinent to your building plan and its location.
Don’t settle for the minimums that just meet code for waterproofing your home. Research your options – make sure wet area walls are fully waterproofed with the appropriate materials. Have your building inspector double-check for proper installation. It’s a lot less stressful to get it done right the first time than to contest who is at fault later and/or live through often difficult repairs.