The Moisture Warranty Corp. held its first annual convention in Atlanta. Drawing more than 145 attendees, a list of outstanding speakers offered information on a multitude of pertinent subjects related to the construction and moisture intrusion inspection industry. This first convention also offered vendors the opportunity to promote products relevant to the moisture intrusion prevention industry.

A lot of times, debut conventions I've attended are based heavily on sales pitches, entertainment-and if time permits-a little education might be offered. That was not the case with this debut. This convention consisted of two full days of educational information that was extremely well received by those in attendance. While attendees were well fed and entertained, education took precedence over everything else.

Day one

The first day started with welcoming comments from Moisture Warranty's President Chris Burton. He quickly welcomed the attendees to Atlanta and assured them that they would leave with far more industry information than when they arrived.

I was the first speaker of the day, discussing for two hours on the subject of metal lath and stucco installations, and their relevance to moisture intrusion problems. Also discussed were relevant changes to ASTM C1063, the metal lath installation specification, as well as recent changes to the model codes as found in the newest edition of the International Building Code and the International Residential Code.

I tried to offer the most vivid presentation possible to demonstrate the most common errors in stucco installations, as well as code requirements that help to avoid these pitfalls. Most in the audience were surprised to discover that the residential trades will have to raise their standards to commercial levels for residential construction, now that the ASTM specifications C926 and C1063 have been added to the code. During the presentation, the audience participation was outstanding and extremely well received.

Next in line was David Kimball, senior technical service specialist for Construction Industries, Dow Corning. Kimball spoke in great detail about the proper use and selection of exterior sealants. Included in this presentation was a complete explanation of how to determine the type and condition of existing sealants. Kimball spoke at length about the pros and cons of the wide array of sealant types available to the construction market today. The information provided in this presentation was extremely valuable and not readily available. The audience appreciation was obvious when he finished his presentation.

Following lunch, the audience was entertained by Durwood "Mr. Doubletalk" Fincher, a renowned comedian best known for expounding on any subject without really saying anything. He has been a guest of many well-known shows, including The Tonight Show and others. Fincher conducted videotaped interviews with conventioneers the night before his presentation. Audience members howled as they watched interviewees try to provide answers to his garbled, nonsensical questions. His program was met with uncontrolled laughter and then finished with a motivational presentation that brought the crowd to their feet.

Next on the schedule was the renowned EIFS and stucco specialist, J. Dick Hopkins, speaking on "Commercial Inspections: Preparations, Tools, Protocol and Content." He also discussed the responsibilities of a professional inspector, which was especially meaningful to the audience filled with home and building inspectors. His extremely detailed presentation was reminiscent of a textbook profile of the inspection business. Armed with this information, the inspectors in the audience will no doubt do an even better job in the future.

Following Hopkins' presentation, the crowd was presented with received instruction on the "DamSill Installation the Proper Way," by Burton. Joining him was Mike Minigh, manager of quality control for Moisture Warranty. They also brought the audience up to date on the company's position on residential inspections and warranties, as well as the latest sill drainage product (DamSill) to be offered by the company to improve this area of installation. As everyone in this industry knows, moisture must be removed from the area around windows and sills.

After a great cocktail session, the night was not yet over as the crowd was gifted with yet another presenter. Scott Stephen, of ReportMaker Pro, reviewed his software's benefits and also introduced the new updated product for PDA applications. This hand-held wonder allows the inspector to record findings and take pictures in the field. This time-saving device was well received by attendees during his presentation.

Day two

The second day of the convention started early with a very informative presentation by Greg Brown, attorney at law, regarding the "Future of Construction Litigation." As the reader might imagine, the future of construction litigation is good and bad, depending on your perspective. Brown informed the audience that the industry will see a great deal more construction-related litigation in the future, since some materials and workmanship is still well below standards. These shortfalls in quality will lead to more and more construction failures and lots of work for moisture intrusion inspectors and repair contractors.

Burton returned to the podium to discuss the company's "Commercial Inspection and Remediation Case Studies." Through this detailed step-by-step photo explanation of a typical commercial inspection, the audience was able to understand and appreciate the intricacies of the typical commercial inspection. He warned that one must be master of many trades to perform this operation successfully.

Next up was Chris Hoogenboom, of OmniSense, to inform the audience about moisture sensors developed for use in residential, as well as commercial, applications. This technology allows monitoring of the moisture and humidity levels throughout a structure long after the contractor leaves the job. Through a network of well-placed monitors and a transmission device, the walls can be monitored and recorded for years, so a future moisture problem can be resolved before the damage results in major corrections.

Unlike many conventions or training seminars the author has attended, the very best was saved for last. Dr. Joseph Lstiburek, a well-known and respected member of the building science industry, was introduced as the keynote speaker. Dr. Lstiburek is a principal of the Building Science Corp. He investigates building failures and is internationally recognized as an authority on moisture-related building problems and indoor air quality. He kept the audience mesmerized for four hours with his presentation, knowledge and experience in this area of construction moisture problems.

Dr. Lstiburek brought the audience from a basic understanding of how air and moisture will be drawn into the structure and then the methods to stop the moisture intrusion. He finished to a standing ovation.

In the end, there were only positive comments about this first annual convention. This attendee personally hopes they just get bigger and better in the future but feels that the first one will be hard to top.

If you read this article, please circle number 351.