Craftsmanship That Holds Water

TDC Waterproofing & Restoration

Heritage buildings are a big deal these days and so are protecting expensive assets from the elements – even in drier climates. With a whole heap of southern charm and the best personal service and craftsmanship in all of Texas, TDC Waterproofing & Restoration, LLC is famous for working behind the scenes to weatherproof building envelopes in a hundred-mile radius of Houston’s downtown.
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TDC Waterproofing & Restoration’s footprint includes the outlying areas of College Station, Galveston, Sugar Land, and a few others. The company also does projects in Dallas and Austin for existing clients. It is a trustworthy and diligent partner when it comes to safeguarding industrial and commercial buildings from water damage as well as restoring beautiful old buildings that grace many of the tree-lined avenues of the southwest.

This full-service waterproofing company is as well-versed at identifying potential problems as it is at fixing existing ones in buildings ranging from brand new to over one hundred years. “We like to help people solve problems that they have with their existing structures. That’s my passion,” says TDC Waterproofing & Restoration Owner Kenny Danielson.

Traditionally, most building envelopes are made of stucco, brick, metal panels, or other hard-wearing materials. Waterproofing is what goes behind these veneers to protect the integrity of building structures from being damaged by water intrusion that typically gets in around seals and joints of windows, doors, and other openings in exterior walls. TDC Waterproofing & Restoration self-performs all its work on buildings ranging in size from four-story deep basements to skyscrapers as high as fifty-eight stories tall.

It is a surprisingly interesting process. When it comes to fixing water intrusion issues or leaks in existing buildings, a number of tests are performed to find the source of the trouble. Correcting these problems on historical buildings is particularly sensitive work that calls for highly-skilled tradesmen with years of experience. In such cases, water issues need to be fixed, but of course, the historical integrity of such buildings must be also protected and kept intact as far as possible. This can be quite daunting at times considering the nature of the materials and methods used in older buildings using materials such as plasters, terracotta, quarried stone, and clay brick.

As there are no institutions that train people to work with antique buildings, TDC Waterproofing & Restoration relies on its veteran tradesmen who have up to forty-five years’ experience in the field to train and pass on their precious skills and knowledge to the younger generations. New crew members generally start out as laborers, work their way up to apprenticeships, and then start shadowing professionals in the field who tend to have a minimum of ten years’ experience.

“A lot of our guys have over twenty years’ experience in this field. It takes between four to six years to learn everything you need to know to perform the kind of work we do properly. It’s not a short process,” says Kenny. Once a crew has done all the tests needed to find the cause of water intrusion into a building’s envelope, it provides the client with a detailed, customized proposal outlining how it suggests correcting the problem.

TDC Waterproofing & Restoration is all about bespoke solutions, and every job is handled according to the unique character and needs of the building. “Every building has a different combination of characteristics decided by its architects, its features, the materials used, how it is appointed, et cetera. What sets us apart is the fact that we approach every project in a strategic manner. On the restoration side, we investigate it properly in order to diagnose the problem properly,” says Kenny.

Getting the job done is as easy as pie when a TDC Waterproofing & Restoration crew is on the job, however. A project manager oversees the process together with a general superintendent. Its fourteen field foremen are in control of the daily progress on each project in partnership with the owners, general contractors, or property managers overseeing the process.

It took many years of hard work and dedication to get to where it is today. Kenny’s father, Butch Danielson was passionate about his work. He started in the field as a project superintendent, proceeded to become a project manager, and eventually started his own business from scratch in 1979. Listening to Kenny, one realizes that there is much to be said for watching one’s parents in business, as he learned a few very valuable lessons from seeing his father weather great storms in the industry.

“I saw him deal with the oil industry going down in the seventies and the savings-and-loan crisis in the early eighties into the nineties and some other really tough times. He had the tenacity to complete one job at a time during those times. I appreciated learning that from him. There was no quit in him,” says Kenny.

With the cyclical nature of the industry, Kenny learned early on to stay on top of his projections. He started by working for his dad during his high school summer vacations and on weekends when he would help by mixing mud or assisting in other general ways. “I’ve done this my entire life,” he says. Kenny ventured out on his own in 2007 and has never looked back.

Today, his crew has seventy-eight members in the field while thirteen run the office operation. This close-knit group of dedicated folks takes great pride in performing sustainable, quality work. “They are entirely my overall greatest asset,” says Kenny.

The company also values being part of organizations that allow it to stay in touch with the industry. These include the International Concrete Restoration Institute (ICRI); the Sealant, Waterproofing and Restoration Institute; C3, a new organization that focuses on continual training in waterproofing; the Air Barrier Association of America, which ensures that industry standards and specifications are being met; the Associated General Contractors (AGC); and the American Subcontractors Association (ASA). It also works closely with local officials to ensure that it stays up to date with the new fire regulations.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285 fire prevention standards aim to make buildings safer by controlling how fire would spread across combustible wall assemblies and claddings. These contain any material that burns easily like plastic foam insulation, plastic composites, laminate panels, and the like. Part of its reach includes regulating the waterproofing industry in terms of how fire spreads along internal cavity walls.

“While it has been in circulation for a while, enforcement of the laws around the standards is now beginning to pick up in the Houston area,” says Kenny. The legislation affects the work of architects, contractors, the manufacturers of sealants, and many others. TDC Waterproofing & Restoration is fully committed to meeting even the most stringent of these rules and is the place to go for up-to-date knowledge on the subject.

For Kenny, the company’s greatest achievement can be found in its clients’ trust. “We really bring a lot to the table, and having a client call in to thank us for a job well done is what it is about for us,” he says.

And there are many happy clients. A project very close to Kenny’s heart is the Annunciation Catholic Church in downtown Houston. The process was sensitive due to the building’s age and also challenging, but the crew was enthusiastic, and the result was a beautifully fresh rendering that gave this old building a new lease on life. The entire building was scaffolded right up to the cross, about 205 feet to the top, for a complete exterior stone, painting, and concrete spire restoration that all happened on site. “That was a really cool project,” says Kenny.

With such old buildings that either have no back wall waterproofing or are entirely made of stone all the way through, repairing mortar joints and stone are very important to keep them dry. Luckily there are a host of reliable waterproofing, hydrophobic coatings available on the market today that can be applied to safeguard structures from future damage.

Another proud project was the refurbishment of the fourteen-story State National Bank in downtown Houston. The building was finished in a brick veneer in 1928. Again, there was no waterproofing, and the TDC Waterproofing & Restoration crew was called in to save it from ruin. The challenge that had to be overcome was saving a collection of beautiful terracotta moldings on the twelfth floor’s east elevation. These had become unstable and were posing a threat of injury to pedestrians below. The crew saved the day with skilled executions on seriously high scaffolding with incredible craftsmanship.

“Removing old moldings is really fascinating. One wonders who the person was who put it there and what their lives were like, nearly one hundred years ago. I really love those types of projects,” says Kenny. Restoring old terracotta takes real skill, and Kenny is proud to have some of the most talented craftsmen around on his team.

TDC Waterproofing & Restoration was also part of the restoration of the 500 Fannin Building in Houston’ in the central business district. This five-story, pour-in-place, concrete building was erected in 1923, and there was a lot of stucco rehabilitation to do. Three-quarters’ of an inch of stucco, also known as plaster, had been applied to the concrete exterior of the building and needed some serious work by the time Kenny’s team got the job. In America, stucco is traditionally prepared from Portland or common cement, sand, water, and sometimes lime and then layered onto the building exterior. The result was lovely, and the building was saved from demolition.

With all the great work it is doing out there in the field, the business has just about doubled in size in the past year alone. After a steady twenty percent annual growth over the past nine years, word of mouth is leading countless new clients to TDC Waterproofing & Restoration’s door. It also means that it is a great job market for people in the trade, and this industry leader is out to hire only the best. In a constantly evolving market, staying ahead of the crowd is where Kenny and his crew want to be.

The company’s generosity is well-known in the region. It supports the youth agricultural groups National FFA Organization and 4-H Positive Youth Development and Mentoring Organization community through sponsorships of future college education of youngsters. It is also very involved with Military Warrior Skills for Life in San Antonio, Texas. “It puts things in perspective when you spend time with a twenty-four-year-old who has lost one of his legs. We absolutely support their work,” says Kenny. The company also supports its staff’s causes which includes Little League Softball and Little League Baseball.

While Houston seems to be slowing down on new builds, the high volume of restoration is keeping TDC Waterproofing & Restoration increasingly busy, bringing about the vision of establishing satellite offices in Dallas and Austin over the next five years or so to support its customers in that area. Kenny’s business philosophy underpins this goal in a very big way.

“You’re only as good as the work you put in today. Don’t take anything for granted,” he says. Today and for years to come, TDC Waterproofing & Restoration will be doing the city proud by preserving Houston’s heritage like the treasure it is.

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 18, 2019, 4:18 PM EDT