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Community and Q&A

Replacing brick veneer and sheathing after a flood

rwhouston | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

I have a question for Martin Holladay.  Martin participated in a Dec 2017 conversation with a Houston resident (Claire) – had to do with the repair/ replacement of sheathing behind brick veneer.

Like Claire, I live in Houston, too.  I also live in a 500 year flood plain, but unlike Claire, Harvey got me.  Thanks to problems w/ insurers & other, and my own uncommon ignorance of such subjects, repairs to my home are only now about to commence.  The last obstacle (we hope) – a supplement request based on FEMA bulletin dated October 23, 2017.  I think the bulletin id is #W-17065, the subject of which is:  “Addendum to the NFIP Adjuster Claims Manual — Special Adjustment Issues: Fiberboard Sheathing/Blackboard”.

In layman’s terms, what I took from the bulletin and supporting docs is that this part of a home’s repair essentially addresses the removal of the brick veneer, replacement of the sheathing, and finally restoring the brick veneer.  Apparently, the only questions FEMA require answers to are:  1) is the repair necessary in this specific instance, and 2) how high up does the brick veneer need to come off.

The insurance/FEMA team have not inspected my home for this particular issue yet, but assuming the answer to 1) is yes, then I’d have a few questions:

First, my contractor maintains it is best not to remove only the bottom four to eight feet of the exterior wall in order to access only the bottom four to eight feet of sheathing.  If I correctly understood his point, has to do the with the risk involved in safely supporting the upper portions of the wall while the lower portion is gone.

However, the FEMA bulletin, or it’s supporting docs (not sure which), make specific reference to the notion that it may not be necessary to remove/replace the full height of the exterior wall.

Is there a general rule ..??..  If so am guessing it would involve safety (to both people and property) during the repairs and structural integrity afterward ??  (shifting loads from winds while braced, etc.)

Other concerns for the homeowner:

  1. Will there be any risk of damage to the foundation from this work ??
  2. Should the foundation be inspected before undertaking the repair ?? (or that’s standard?)
  3. Risk of workmanship – is the contractor sufficiently experienced in this type of work ??  Nature of the conversation to have with him ??
  4. Questions involving permits, insurance, bonding
  5. Risk of delay to the schedule  (maybe hard to take this question seriously since the flood occurred 19 months ago)
  6. If this had been a monitored claim, in case you have experience with those, probably this particular work would go forward only if there were or had been mold in those voids ..??..  And doesn’t mold hit a mortgage company’s crazy button ??
  7. Other ??

Many thanks,

jr in houston

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    There is no way to answer your questions on a web forum. What you need is a site visit from a qualified engineer.

    No one visiting this web page can assess your foundation, your brick veneer, or your sheathing.

    Good luck.

  2. rwhouston | | #2

    Hi Martin,

    Thank you for your reply. And I beg your pardon, I didn't expect there would be answers specific to my property but I can see the message didn't make that point.

    If it is practical to answer the questions in a general way, can the risk for such a project be reasonably controlled by an experienced contractor, or does this work remain very risky under even ideal circumstances with an experienced professional ?

    Also not intended to be specific to my property, is it a common practice to replace only the lower portion (8’ +/-) of a brick veneer wall ..??.. Or is it more common the full wall would be replaced ?

    Many thanks if those two can be addressed. And my apologies for the deluge from the previous note.

    Very best,

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    R. Watkins,
    I'm not competent to determine whether you can replace the lower section of a brick veneer wall safely, up to 8 feet high, without removing all the bricks. And I'm fairly sure that an experienced brick contractor couldn't make that judgment either without a site visit.

    In any case, the work you describe will require an experienced brick mason and an engineer. So I suggest that you get those two professionals on site and ask them the questions.

  4. rwhouston | | #4

    Many thanks, Martin

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