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Keeping Water Out of Your Home

Any homeowner in the St. Louis area knows that water is one of a home’s year round most formidable foes. Your residence is under constant attack from the elements. As seasons change, the barrage of water comes in many forms: rain, fog, sleet, snow, hail, freeze-thaw cycles (especially in St. Louis) and even flooding. Mother Nature constantly challenges the home, looking for any opportunity to exploit its vulnerabilities and enter though into your roofing, windows, walls, and foundation.

Building codes do specify that new homes provide minimal protection against water by requiring that the foundation be “damp proofed.” However, these standards are not enough to give the owner much confidence that their home will not be infiltrated. Even small amounts of water, if allowed to enter the home, can create serious problems such as mold, mildew, rotting wood, or damaged drywall. Traditional building methods often lack the attention this critical area deserves. Waterproofing a home literally starts from the ground up with the foundation of your home. By going “Beyond The Code” and applying a (limited) Lifetime Waterproofing membrane to the outside of the foundation, R.E.A. homeowners can trust that their homes have an extra layer of protection from water and moisture. Although this flexible, polymer-based membrane costs a bit more than the normal waterproofing used on “code-built” homes, it provides a significant upgrade that is much more durable than “damp proofing.” The next piece of the waterproofing puzzle is the drain tile system. While no system is “full-proof,” part of our core philosophy on home building is to use all practical technology in the areas that matter most. “Code built” homes usually include either an exterior drain tile system or an interior drain tile system. We typically install BOTH.

The exterior system is at the base of the foundation and sits on the footing. It allows water trapped inside soil to move away, so that pressure decreases and less potential exists for infiltration into the home. The interior drain system is inside the basement along the outside walls to capture water that can migrate through the soil via hydrostatic pressure, guiding the water to sump pits with pumps that are able to discharge the water away from the home.

R.E.A. Homes asks: Why would you use just one of these systems? You only get one chance to get this part right. If you only use an inside system, you are inviting water on the outside to come in. If you use only an outside system, you lose control of the water that makes it past the external barrier or through hydrostatic pressure. A R.E.A. High Performance Luxury Home includes both an interior AND exterior system to give the homeowner a higher degree of control over the home’s drainage and water management.

Additionally, R.E.A. Homes takes it another step further by recommending the addition of rigid exterior insulation boards around the outside of the foundation. In addition to creating another barrier against moisture, the rigid insulation provides better energy efficiency and moves the dew point to the exterior of the foundation. This increases comfort and enjoyment in the lower level.

Though waterproofing the foundation and ground drainage systems are the most important way to protect your home from unwanted water, we note several other best practices as well:

• Design the landscaping of trees and plants to help keep water away from the home.

• Positively grade the land surrounding the home so that water is being diverted away.

• Downspouts from gutters should be extended so that storm water is directed away from the foundation.

• House wrap commonly use on the outside of the home needs to be properly “shingled” so that water does not enter through window or vent openings in the house’s exterior. We strongly recommend that our clients use commercial grade Tyvek, also known as Tyvek Stucco Wrap. This upgraded wrap has “crinkles” in it that create an even better drainage plain than regular house wrap.

• Proper roofing involves the proper management of many details in order to minimize chances of water problems. We have a detailed list of specifications we recommend on every home.

Anyone who has ever had issues with water in the past knows how stressful it is to deal with in their home. By building our High Performance Luxury Homes SM “Beyond The Code,” we are dramatically decreasing the chances that R.E.A. homeowners will have to deal with such issues. More importantly, we are arming our homeowners with the peace of mind that any storm can be weathered with confidence; so much has been done to protect their home and their families.

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