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02 Sep 2015

Worst construction scandal in decades

Cliak to see a larger picture of the wet MgO boards Cliak to see a larger picture of the wet MgO boards

Worst construction scandal in decades:
Thousands of homes destroyed by moisture

mgo boards moistureAs mentioned in our previous article "Why do you need to paint your exterior walls" we are often guinea pigs when it comes to new construction materials.This article is about contractors who have recommended a product to their customers without knowing the material’s characteristics, which has left customers and their buildings with massive moisture problems as a result.

It should have been the safe choice, and with the recommendation from the contractor the magnesium-containing MgO boards was chosen as wind barrier.

Instead, it was an expensive choice.
It now turns out that the boards in the building and hundreds of other buildings across the country, absorbs the moisture from the air in such a high degree, that the water at times runs down the plates. The boards contains magnesium chloride, which is salt with hydrochloric acid, so when the moisture runs down the boards it drags the salts with it and it causes brackets and screws to corrode alarmingly fast, which may damage the Supporting construction.

As these wind barrier boards has direct contact to the interior of the building and absorbs a huge amount of moisture, the problem is that this moisture penetrates into the inside wood and drywall construction.


Construction scandal - has destroyed thousands of Danish housing.
100 million bill awaits

mgo board moistThere was no doubt, that the boards had to be removed, and that probably also for hundreds of other buildings across the country. Experts fear that the total costs incurred are exceeding more than 130 million euros for the entire construction sector.

Although the industry still does not have a complete overview of the extent of the problem, it seems that the magnesium-containing boards will become one of Denmark's greatest construction scandals.

To understand the numbers, Denmark has just about 5.5 million inhabitants - think about the numbers if this happens in Spain.

Corrosion can destroy an entire building.

Henrik Garver from the Association of Consulting Engineers (FRI) calls the case 'unmanageable':
- I do not remember a construction scandal of this magnitude, there is no doubt that it has major implications for all buildings concerned. Corrosion can destroy an entire building.

Although the problem is not yet fully mapped, the Building Defects Foundation’s provisional registration shows that the boards are used in almost 20.000 public housings. Probably it will not be necessary to replace the plates in all buildings, but in many cases the expected bill for replacement is likely to run into millions.


To get an idea of the cost, says the chairman of a housing association here:
In 9 out of 11 buildings are MgO boards used as a wind barrier boards, and in the nine buildings there are massive moisture problems. In the two other buildings cement-based boards were used, and in these buildings there are no moisture problems. In the nine buildings with MgO boards, moisture has penetrated the inner wall and destroyed the window frames in almost all the windows, so that they also need to be replaced. This means that the estimated repair cost has increased from 2.7 million to 4 million euros.

Demand of better market surveillance
As we have open markets, it means that tomorrow we can have a new product that in theory should not have been allowed into the market in the first place, and which might have wide distribution, like in the case in Denmark. So there is a need to tighten up the system so that the bad products can be filtered out from the start.
In any case, it calls for change of the authorities that controls the building materials function, and it should lead to a review of the system, in order to avoid such cases in the future.

Those boards was chosen out from their price, as they are cheaper, but also because they are easier to work with and therefore quicker to install, and again – it makes the total work cheaper. We are very easy to persuade when it comes to price, but mostly we find out that the money we saved in the first place, is not enough to pay for the problems that will come after.

Preliminary announcements indicate that not all of MgO panels have these negative characteristics as the panels chemical composition varies from product to product - and it can hardly be ruled out that the quality also varies from batch to batch.

The legal challenges to assign responsibility (or get through with demands on a different basis) for inappropriate materials in the construction, can be large. Whether there is a shortage will concretely depend on the agreement between the parties and the characteristics of the boards.

Read 16219 times Last modified on Saturday, 05 September 2015 14:50

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