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Hi Robert,

This is the second time I have written in with a question. Thank you for your first answer as you were right on the mark. I live in Beverly Hills but my daughter lives in Pasadena and saves the articles for me.

We went through a fairly large reconstruct and between sets of bricks, the contractor put in what looks like shiny concrete. That space between the bricks, which is about 1 1/2” wide and is above my bottom room, now has walls that are buckling and peeling since the last rain. I contacted my homeowners association and they are telling me it’s my problem because it’s an inside wall. Is this right? Thank you as always,

Kate D.

Hi Kate,

The response from the HOA doesn’t sound right to me. The shiny cement you are referring to is plastic cement. If you have a cold joint between sets of bricks as you are describing and they did not waterproof underneath, then you have an issue.

If all they used was the cement in the joint, without waterproofing, then it isn’t surprising you are having interior damage as the cement is porous. If you get enough sheeting, the water will find a way inside your home.

The only way to ascertain the cause of this leak would be to open the drywall and perform a water test. If there is no waterproofing, then it should start leaking within about 20 minutes. I would suggest you document this through photographs and bring this to the attention of the HOA.

In this case, it would belong to the HOA as they are responsible for the envelope of the building, which is the exterior. You may have to do some leg work on your own to get to the bottom of this. When you open the walls, you may find that it’s a plumbing leak. I don’t know how your CC & R’s are written, but some HOA’s are holding homeowners responsible for their own water and waste lines if they are exclusive common area use.


I have this brown material at the end of my driveway at the city sidewalk. I don’t know what it is. It’s fibrous but not wood. Birds are picking at it, and it’s starting to look bad. What can I do for this? Can it be replaced? Is this something I can buy and drive down between the driveway and sidewalk?

Don I.

Hi Don,

That is an expansion joint. It is put in during the concrete pour and is there to keep two pieces of concrete from fusing together. It’s too thick to try to drive a piece of that down. When it’s put in, it’s compressed by the weight of the concrete. A new piece would be too wide to get in there.

What I would recommend would be to first put in some backer rod and then a bead of Sikaflex about 3/4” deep. Because this is a urethane-based product, it’s very forgiving and has a lot of elasticity in it. This will allow it to bond well to both sides of the concrete. Make sure the concrete is clean before the application.

This should take care of the problem for a few years.

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Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a Commercial, General, Electrical, and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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