The role of the Waterproofing Design Specialist

There are huge changes afoot in the way that we approach waterproofing design for underground structures.

Traditionally it has been the architect’s role to draw up and recommend the waterproofing design for below ground projects. However, the vast majority of architects will readily acknowledge that they do not have the training or expertise to undertake this function. The only reason they have been doing it is because there are so few people in the industry who are willing to undertake this role.

The latest edition of BS 8102:2009 Code of Practice for protection of below ground structures against water from the ground, recognizes this problem and has addressed it by recommending that every design team incorporates a Waterproofing Design Specialist.

This is set out in section 4.2 of BS 8102:2009 under the heading “Design Team”. The code states:-

“A waterproofing specialist should be included as part of the design team so that an integrated waterproofing solution is created. The waterproofing specialist should:-
a) be suitably experienced;
b) be capable of devising solutions that accommodate the various project constraints and needs;
c) provide the design team with information and guidance that assists with and influences the design, installation and future maintenance of the waterproofed structure.”

What is a Waterproofing Design Specialist?

Waterproofing design specialists can, in theory, be anybody who is able to provide expertise in structural waterproofing. However, identifying those that have the appropriate skills and knowledge from those who don’t can be difficult and daunting. Even the most experienced architects and building developers can struggle to single out those that can be trusted to give the correct information.

BS8102:2009 implies that the Waterproofing Design Specialist should have knowledge of the following:Basement1

  1. The waterproofing systems available.
  2. An in-depth understanding of the requirements of BS 8102.
  3. Sources of water, and how it flows through the soil and interacts with the structure.
  4. Sufficient structural knowledge to be able to discourse meaningfully with the structural engineer.
  5. Sufficient geotechnical knowledge to be able to understand the implications of a soil report, and to discourse meaningfully with the geotechnical engineer.

Who can be a Waterproofing Design Specialist?

This can be anybody who is able to demonstrate that they have the requisite knowledge described above.

There are many people who may be able to act in this capacity, such as architects and engineers who have specialist training in the field. Equally, there are many surveyors or suppliers who operate within the structural waterproofing industry who already have this knowledge and apply it as part of their everyday work.

How does the leader of the design team find a Waterproofing Design Specialist?

Whilst there may be many people who are able to fulfill the function of Waterproofing Design Specialist, the leader of the design team will need to know who they are. At the present time there is no register or central point where people with the right skills can make themselves known. Currently the only way to identify an individual who has put himself through the rigours of study and qualification in this specialist field is to look for those who have attained the Certificated Surveyor in Structural Waterproofing (CSSW) qualification. Most surveyors who have attained this qualification are embedded within companies and so finding the qualified people, quickly and efficiently can be problematic.

This is why the Structural Waterproofing Group of the Property Care Association is forming a special category of members who have demonstrated they have the requisite knowledge. This will ensure that a list of Waterproofing Design Specialists – who have been properly vetted and approved – is available and accessible to the leader of the design team.

All that the leader of the design team would need to do is to go to the PCA website (www.property-care.org) and look for the category of Waterproofing Design Specialist. There they will soon find a list of members, with a description of their expertise.

What is needed to be recognised as a PCA Waterproofing Design Specialist?

Anyone will soon be able to make an application to the PCA to become recognised as a Waterproofing Design Specialist but in order to be accepted, applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have the necessary skills in:

  • Diagnostic investigation and problem solving
  • Report writing
  • Understand all the aspects of BS8102- 2009 and other relevant industry standard
  • Building construction and waterproofing techniques
  • Knowledge of the products and techniques commonly used in waterproofing.
Observance of a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme will be compulsory for anyone joining the Association as a Waterproofing Design Specialist. In addition every Waterproofing Design Specialist will be required to acknowledge and uphold the Association’s code of Ethics and all relevant standards that relate to the conduct and behaviour of members.

We anticipate that the Waterproofing Design Section of the Property Care Association will be available on our website in late 2011, with a public launch planned for early 2012.

For further information, contact the PCA on 0844 375 4301 or
Email: pcaproperty-care.org

Phil Hewitt, Phil Hewitt Associates Ltd
Chairman of the PCA Waterproofing Steering Group.