Shift in building culture needed

Building is getting more risky.  The reality is that when standards were lower, both the regulations and people’s expectations, many of the vapour and condensation problems that could accrue were taken away by air currents through gaps, cracks everywhere.  Equally when the general levels of insulation were poor the impact of a thermal bridge, in terms of both heat loss and local buildups of moisture, were less.

Now as we strive to reduce energy use and increase the insulation levels and airtightness the effect of well-fitted but poorly thought-out systems, or badly built well-designed systems are becoming more obvious. The moisture or vapour accrual can be greater than before and the (accidental or designed) air movement that took moisture away may be less available.  Old-school architects and builders have little understanding of how ‘tipping points’ can be reached in terms of building physics where insulation levels can start causing more problems than they solve.  It is our view that the whole industry needs to re-think, re-learn and upskill.

Add this to the fact that Ireland has some of the poorest ventilation regulations in Western Europe and that most Irish homeowners have no understanding of the importance of ventilation and therefore block vents or have inadequate extraction and you can understand why it would appear we are on the cusp of a significant number of building failures.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  We have the tools.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011