Stopping the Usual Suspects Top Threats to Your Building's Exterior

 Years ago, when I babysat for a young boy, I watched him create a multi-story  building out of empty cardboard boxes. The lad then ran around his proud  creation, flexing his muscles and crowing, “My house is indy-structible!” (He then proceeded to crash bodily through the cardboard doors, kick the walls  in and lob toys at the roof. It took him a while to destroy his structure, but  he enjoyed every second of it.)  

 Wouldn’t it be great if our co-op or condo building was “indestructible,” too, and could withstand the relentless forces of nature and time without  needing constant maintenance and costly repairs? New York City buildings are  certainly tougher than my babysitting charge’s cardboard castle, but they’re certainly not indestructible. There are several factors that can cause  significant wear and tear on all buildings.  

 Defending Your Castle

 Urban buildings may appear to be solid as rocks, but it’s very important to remember that they’re not static. According to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission  (LPC), once construction is completed, buildings don’t necessarily stay put.  

 “Not only does every material wear, but buildings do move,” says John Graham, senior landmarks preservationist with the LPC. “During the life of a structure it will continue to settle and shift. The bedrock  is moving. The underlying soil is also being washed away, tunneled through by  animals, frozen and thawed, shaken by human forces like traffic and the MTA,  and eventually concrete cracks, steel rusts and the building shifts.”  

 There really isn’t anything that can be done to protect a building from the natural shifts in the  earth, or its underlying long-term effects on the structure. There are however  other enemies that can cause damage to your building’s shield. Part of any building’s maintenance plan should include protecting it against these enemies, repairing  any damage and maintaining the building exterior on a regular basis.  

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