ASTM Task Group Addresses Challenges of Designing and Constructing Weather-Resistant Frame Buildings

Mar 1, 1999


STM Task Group E06.21.14, chaired by Serge Fedorov, AIA, an architect with the Oakland, CA Housing Authority, is closing in on a national standard that is intended to result in low-rise frame buildings that are resistant to leaks. The draft document, entitled Design And Construction Of Low-Rise Frame Building Envelopes To Resist Damage Caused By Intrusion Of Water Originating As Precipitation began as a syllabus for a course, entitled Theory and Practice of Frame Building Waterproofing, offered through the San Francisco Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (SFAIA) by the SFAIA Waterproofing Task Force. The original syllabus was largely the work of author and consultant Wesley W. Page, PE.

Because of the large number of building projects in California suffering from water intrusion related damage and the litigation resulting therefrom, the course became a popular and well attended annual event, drawings architects, contractors, and other building team members seeking relief. The syllabus also became a popular handbook for designing, construction and repairing frame buildings to prevent unwanted water intrusion. Members of the Waterproofing Task Force saw a need to expand an awareness of water intrusion into new construction even further and, in 1995-96 explored the possibility of turning the syllabus into a building code supplement called Model Code Chapter – Waterproofing Frame Buildings.

When this effort bogged down due to the virtual impossibility of introducing a large and complex document into the model code modification and adoption process, the Task Group identified ASTM as a more appropriate and workable vehicle for standardizing a document dealing with waterproofing of frame buildings. As a result, ASTM Task Group E06.55.04, Weather Resistance of Frame Buildings, was formed at the St. Louis meeting of E6 Committee in March of 1997, with Serge Fedorov, AIA, as chairman. Since then, the task group has met twice at E6 Committee meetings, October 1997 in San Diego, April 1998 in Atlanta and October 1998 in Norfolk, VA. In addition, several task group meetings have been held in the San Francisco Bay area.

This document, which was balloted at subcommittee level (E06.55 (98-02), item 1, for the first time on September 25, 1998, departs substantially from its origins for a number of reasons. The original syllabus was largely oriented toward stucco-clad construction and included a large amount of graphic repair details and step-by-step construction procedures. The current draft reflects the consensus of the task group for a flexible and modular document that includes both performance and prescriptive material applicable to new construction throughout North America. Although graphic depictions of proven details have been given a place in the Appendix, these are not a part of the main documents and are not intended to hold up progress on the main document.

One of the principal issues in the original syllabus was a discussion of the need for a better weather-resistive barrier materials (building paper, air barriers, house wraps, etc.). This has been spun off into a separate task group, E06.55.07, Weather-Resistive Barriers, chaired by Tom Butt, FAIA. Issues relating to sub-grade water or moisture intrusion as well as roofs (not decks) has also been dropped from the current draft.

Task Group E06.55.04 has met twice to consider the latest ballot comments, one on Norfolk at the Fall E6 meeting, and once in December near San Francisco. The current draft dated February 25, 1999 reflects the consensus of the task group after reviewing the comments. It is being circulated for a subcommittee ballot, which closes April 14, 1999.

A review of item 2, Standard Practice for Field Detection of Water Leaks in Exterior Wall Systems of Low-Rise Frame Buildings has been deferred.

Objective and Philosophy

1 The standard is intended to serve both as an informational guide and a regulatory or quality control document, depending on how individual users want to employ it. Remembering that the source document was intended to be a “building code chapter,” much of the language is written in the imperative mode so that it can be used with a code or contract.
2. The standard is designated as a “practice” because that designation seems to carry a little more obligatory weight than a “guide.” The Form and Style for ASTM Standards says: A standard practice is an accepted procedure for the performance of one or more operations or functions. Note that all ASTM documents are “standards,” but the description “test method,” “specification,” “practice,” or “guide” further defines the exact nature of a specific document.
3. In addition to prescriptive requirements, the document includes provision for alternate materials and methods to meet the basic service life requirements. Much of the design philosophy and non-prescriptive principles and practices are intended to provide a context for alternate means and methods of meeting the performance requirement.


The document has been broken into several components as follows:

1 Main document – includes written performance and prescriptive requirements for building design and construction.
2. Appendixes – Includes supplementary information. The appendixes are expandable and can be added incrementally as modules without affecting the main document. Each module can be prepared and balloted independently. We are looking for interested persons to prepare drafts of these various sections.

  • X.1 References
  • X2 Guide Details
  • X3 Construction Inspection Checklists
  • X4 Tips on Avoiding Design and Construction defects that Can Lead to Water Intrusion (An example would be a treatise on avoiding stucco cracking that can lead to water intrusion).
3. Supplementary Standards – these are independent of the main document and follow their own road to adoption.

  • E XXXX Standard Practice For Field Detection Of Water Leaks In Exterior Wall Systems Of Low-Rise Frame Buildings

Organization of the Main Document

The main document follows mandatory ASTM format. Because it is a large document, a summary of the important parts is shown below:

1. Scope
2. Referenced Documents
3. Terminology
4. Summary of Practice
5. Significance and Use
6. General Design Principles
7. Design Practices
8. General Requirements
9. Primary Barrier Walls
10. Secondary Barrier Walls
11. Decks and Stairs
12. Doors, Windows, Louvers and Similar Wall Penetrations
13. Key Words and Phrases

For Sections 9 though 12, the categories are generally subdivided into:

1. Materials
2. Design and Construction
3. Inspection and Testing

Additional Information

Serge Fedorov, AIA, Chairman, Task Group E06.55.04
25 Brentwood Drive
San Rafael, CA 94901
fax 415/457-1017

117 Park Place • Point Richmond, CA • 94801 •  • • 510-236-7435