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Water hasn't changed how it enters a house, but how we deal with it as builders certainly has. Let's start with an oft-mentioned truism: All wall claddings leak. What we might think of as a house's first line of defense against the elements turns out to be relatively defenseless. Regardless of your level of craftsmanship, water is going to find its way behind whatever you cover your exterior walls with—wood, masonry, metal, or vinyl.
In the not-so-distant past, when houses were not as well insulated or as tightly built as they are today, water that infiltrated behind the siding might have stained the flower-patterned wallpaper in the parlor, but chances are, the house didn't rot.