Bill Christenson is a Case Manager for CDR covering residential and commercial construction, analyzing building systems and specializing in concrete issues.

Bryce Given is manager of operations for CDR.  He is certified by the Roofing Consultants Institute as a Registered Waterproofing Consultant and a Registered Exterior Wall Consultant.

Mike Showalter is the founder and President of CDR.  He is also a licensed real estate broker and a former general contractor.

Janet Showalter is the Vice President of CDR.  She is also a licensed real estate broker and is general manager of CDR.

The CDR Bulletin

Articles on best-practices, safety, contractor responsibilities, and other issues important to the construction industry.


Fluid Applied Coating Preparation

 July 2018

by Bryce Given

Coatings are used for moisture control and as bonding agents and weatherproofing on surfaces in new building construction and renovations.  Examples of uses include decks, balconies, garage floors, roofing, above grade wall, below grade wall, and under interior floor coverings.  Frequently coatings are used to prepare surfaces for finish surfaces or layers of moisture control. Surfaces to receive coatings are usually wood sheathing such as plywood or similar, concrete, metal panels or sheets, or gypsum board.

Common to most coatings is proper preparation of the surface of the substrate.  Proper surface preparation supports good coating adhesion, function, performance and durability.  Each manufacturer may have different recommendations and requirements for surface preparation.  Three key factors common to most installations are a clean, dry and debris-free surface.  Clean means no contaminants, oils, greases, chemicals or unadhered paints remaining on the surface.  Dry means usually less than 5 percent moisture content before application of the coating, but this can vary by manufacturer and product.  Debris-free means that foreign or loose materials must be removed.  In new construction loose materials are often construction debris, dirt, dust and original systems. For an existing building renovation, debris is usually old building construction remnants, paints and adhesives.  

Various methods of preparing surfaces can include: cleaning with solvents, hand or pressure washing, sweeping, mechanical grinding to achieve an acceptable substrate, and air pressure washing such as from a high pressure air hose or media blaster.  Generally, pressure washing is not usually recommended because this adds water to the surface and substrate.  Building in the Pacific NW often occurs during rainy or freezing weather, causing substrates to become saturated or frozen, further requiring extensive drying or warming to achieve coating-ready surfaces.  

Coating failures occur when there is a lack of bond or adhesion to the surface due to an unprepared substrate, poor or incorrect mixing of coating materials, application outside recommended temperature range, or too high of moisture in, on or below the substrate. 

After preparing surfaces for coatings, the surface should be tested for its readiness to receive the coating. Sample area applications of the coating may be able to be tested for adhesion  by means of pull tests or other methods, and the results analyzed and confirmed for acceptance by the manufacturers and the application contractor.



Flat Roof Membranes

March 2018

by Bryce Given

In the Pacific NW, there are many different types of roofing materials that can be applied onto a flat roof of a home or commercial building.  These include metal, silicone spray foam, EPDM rubber, single ply, built up, and bitumen based.  Bitumen is asphalt or coal tar based material.  Single ply, built up roofing (BUR) and torch down roofing are the most common types we see installed in the Pacific NW.  So what are the general differences between the common roofing types? 

Single Ply Membrane Roofing:

There are three kinds of single ply roofing:  1) polyvinyl chloride (PVC), 2) thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) and 3) ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM).  Single ply membranes come in thicknesses between 40 mil and 80 mil, depending on manufacturer and type.  Single ply can be mechanically or adhesively attached to the underlying substrates.  PVC and TPO seams and laps are hot air welded or chemically bonded.  

  • PVC and TPO membranes– are installed in rows of 6’ or wider depending on the manufacturer’s material widths.  Materials are durable, provide energy saving benefits on cooling days due to their reflectance abilities and are repairable without open flames.  Since the membrane is only a single layer, damage to the roofing or a poor weld may readily allow water under the roofing. 

Installation costs vary by site conditions, roofing contractor, manufacturer and material type and thickness.  Generally, a square foot allowance cost for labor and material may be $9 to $10 for PVC’s and $7 to $8 for TPO’s. 

  • EPDM is a durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane derived primarily from oil and natural gas. EPDM is available in black and white and can be purchased in widths of 7.5 to 50 feet.  EPDM can be installed using roofing adhesive, mechanically fastened or ballasted with gravel or rocks to hold it into place on the rooftop.  Seams are sealed with liquid adhesive or formulated tapes. 

Installation costs are generally $7 to $8 per square foot.

  • Built Up Roofing - BUR – is durable and can take abuse from heavy foot traffic.  The system is built up from multiple layers of ply sheets using hot asphalt to bond each layer together.  Over the top layer a reflective coating can be applied for energy conservation by reflecting the sun’s rays.  A multiple layered roofing system can offer peace of mind due to its many layers of roofing.  There is redundancy in layering for protection against punctures from falling branches, impacts or sharp objects and failed seams or laps. 

Installation costs are generally $7 to $8 per square foot.

Torched Down systems 

  • These systems consist of two to three layers of modified bitumen sheets.  Each layer is flame torched down to the surface below.  Like BUR, the torch work must be performed by a skilled roofer familiar with proper melting of the bitumen within the sheet layers to achieve proper melt, flow and adhesion to create a single system.  The multiple layers create a durable system resistant to punctures and failures.  A granulated cap sheet can be applied to add durability and protection of the underlying layers and from solar damage.  Rejuvenating the roofing can be accomplished by adding another layer of torch down roofing over the existing system.

Installation costs are about $6 to $8 per square foot.

Regardless of the type of roofing or extent of the project, CDR recommends that two or more bids be obtained for the work and contracts be in writing and reviewed by an attorney before signing.  Additionally, CDR recommends that manufacturer and installation warranties be researched and inspection protocols be followed during and after installation to maximize the life and warranty of the roof system.


International Property Management Code

November 2017

by Bryce Given

The 2015 International Code Council (ICC) Model Building codes for commercial and residential construction projects include the International Property Management Code (IPMC), which is designed to provide “the standards for supplied utilities and facilities and other physical things and conditions essential to ensure that structures are safe, sanitary and fit for occupation and use; and the condemnation of buildings and struc­tures unfit for human occupancy and use, and the demolition of such existing structures as herein provided.” This and all other ICC codes are revised every three years following the ICC 3-year revision cycle.     

In Washington, the State Building Code Council (SBCC) and its Technical Advisory Group reviews the ICC Model codes, holds hearings, and makes the final determination on which codes they will adopt for the State of Washington.  At the local level, individual jurisdictions often adopt and amend the Codes, tailoring them to their specific needs. However, we have found that in some jurisdictions, the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) may not be adopted in full or even at all. 

This code provides standards for premises to be maintained.  It states that “Except as otherwise specified herein, the owner or the owner's authorized agent shall be responsible for the mainte­nance of buildings, structures and premises.”  In addition, “Repairs, maintenance work, alter­ations or installations that are caused directly or indirectly by the enforcement of this code shall be executed and installed in a workmanlike manner and installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.”  A sample of building elements covered includes: walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces, walls, roofs, doors, windows, and drainage.

The IPMC does not place the same standards on “existing buildings or structures designated as historic buildings where such buildings or structures are judged by the code official to be safe and in the public interest of health, safety and welfare.”

Owners and/or their authorized agents with commercial or multi-family properties regulated by this IPMC code would do well to have some working knowledge of the relevant sections and how they might apply to their properties.


Fall Protection - Residential Construction

May 2017

By Bill Christenson

Falls are the most common type of injury accident on construction projects.  We typically see temporary guardrails installed at heights or workers wearing fall protection harnesses with lanyards on commercial projects, but how about residential construction?  It’s not uncommon to see workers on residential construction and single family home projects working unprotected around fall hazards, so are safety regulations less stringent for residential versus commercial construction?  No!  Fall protection pertaining to any construction work is mandated by Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 296-155, Part C-1.

Fall protection requirements are not just for hazards above 10 feet high.  Floor holes and floor openings regardless of height must be guarded.  Fall protection is required at the height of 4 feet or more at open-sided walking/working surfaces as well as ramps.  Work activity on high slope roofs (4:12 pitch or greater) where a fall hazard of 4 feet or more exists also requires fall protection.  Where employees are exposed to fall hazards of 10 feet or more, fall protection is required, as well as a written fall protection work plan.

The compliant means of fall protection are addressed in WAC 296-155, Part C-1 and include: 

Fall arrest systems – Stopped after the fall with a 6 foot maximum free fall distance

  • Personal fall arrest with full body harness and lanyards
  • Safety nets
  • Catch platforms 

Fall restraint systems – Restrained from falling

  • Guardrails
  • Covers
  • Warning line system
  • Personal fall restraint

Positioning device system

  • Positioning harness/full body harness with a 2 foot maximum free fall distance

Other common construction activities that require fall protection include:

  • Working on elevating platforms and aerial platforms (Reference WAC 296-869)
  • Working on scaffolds (Reference WAC 296-874)
  • Working on ladders (Reference WAC 296-876)

In addition to having the proper means and methods for fall protection, all personnel are required to be trained in the proper use of the fall protection.  According to WAC 296-155-24621, all training must be documented and documentation kept on file.  

Contractors and workers need to know their responsibilities and ensure that proper fall protection is used at all fall hazard conditions.


WISHA Compliance Extended to Homeowners

January 2017

by Mike and Janet Showalter

In 1990, the Washington Supreme Court held in Stute v. PBMC1 that a general contractor could be held liable for an injury to a subcontractor's employee that occurred as a result of a WISHA violation committed by that employee.  This rule (WRD 27.00) was subsequently extended to include any upper-tier subcontractor who, like a general contractor, has a non-delegable, specific duty to ensure compliance with all applicable WISHA regulations for “every employee on the jobsite,” not just its own employees.[1]  A general or upper-tier contractor is deemed responsible for protecting workers on the jobsite, including “any employee who may be harmed by the employer’s violation of the safety rules.” [2]

Subsequent lawsuits since 1990 have worked vigorously to extend this duty also to owner/developers, landowners whose independent contractors fail to comply with safety and health regulations, and now property owners and other employers, depending on the degree of control exercised and whether they control or create a hazard.  Examples of criteria for determining that a property owner falls under these regulations are:

  1. The essence of the contract with the contractor (whether written or verbal) is the contractor’s personal labor
  2. The homeowner is in some manner controlling or directing the contractor’s day-to-day activities such as:
  • Directing and/or supervising the contractor on how to do the work
  • Setting specific work hours, like workday start and end times, or lunch or rest breaks
  • Controlling how payment occurs, whether monetary or another form of compensation
  • Supplying materials, tools or equipment required to complete work activities.

On October 30, 2016, The Department of Labor and Industries expanded WRD 27.00. The basis for this expansive duty to ensure safety for all employees and non-employees on the jobsite arises from the top entity’s (general contractor, upper-tier contractor, owner, developer, landowner, etc.) “ innate supervisory authority,” which “constitutes sufficient control over the workplace.”[3]  The law determines that this entity is in the best position, financially and structurally, to ensure WISHA compliance.  Because this entity has authority to direct the working conditions on a construction site, they have ultimate responsibility under WISHA for job safety and health at the job site.

The general contractor (or any entity of similar position and authority) must demonstrate that it is meeting these responsibilities by fulfilling the following:

  1. must contractually require its subcontractors to provide all safety equipment required to do the job, or furnish the required safety equipment
  2. develop and implement an Accident Prevention Program
  3. develop a written site specific Safety Plan that addresses and coordinates the safety issues of all its subcontractors at the site
  4. require that a site specific Safety Plan is developed in a manner consistent with the relevant WAC regulations
  5. require its subcontractors to have Accident Prevention Programs and site specific plans consistent with the relevant WAC regulations
  6. develop a management plan
  7. make the Accident Prevention Program and all site-specific safety plans available and accessible
  8. develop a plan that will reasonably discover violations of its Accident Prevention Program or Safety Plan
  9. must show it has effectively enforced in practice its Accident Prevention Program and/or Safety Plan
  10. must provide contractual language that requires its subcontractors to comply with all safety rules
  11. must require its subcontractors to have and enforce a disciplinary schedule that will be followed by its subcontractors
  12. must include a method of documenting safety violations, as well as a method of recording what, if any, appropriate disciplinary action is taken

The extended reach of this ruling should especially alert homeowners because now they also can be issued citations for violating safety and health requirements if it is determined that they are acting as general contractors.  A citation raises the question of liability, which leads to the possibility of a lawsuit where the homeowner will have to defend himself against the claims being made.  If found liable, the financial implications can be huge.  Be informed before taking on this role!


[1] Stute, 114 Wn.2d at 456, 463-64; accord Kamla, 147 Wn.2d at 122 

[2] Afoa v. Port of Seattle, 176 Wn.2d 460, 471, 296 P.3d 800 (2013)

[3] Stute, 114 Wn.2d at 464