Damp – the mod­ern men­ace in hous­ing

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

A FIRM that in­ves­ti­gates prob­lems such as damp in build­ings has been in­un­dated with re­quests to in­ves­ti­gate sick or “tight” build­ing syn­drome since an ap­pear­ance on ITVs Build­ings From Hell.

The pro­gramme high­lighted the new but pre­vi­ously un­recog­nised build­ing de­fects which can be iden­ti­fied from mod­ern con­struc­tion tech­niques and which cre­ate ideal con­di­tions for toxic mould, prompt­ing health con­cerns.

The quest for re­duced car­bon emis­sions from build­ings – and there­fore a lower level of air changes – has cre­ated a gen­eral in­crease in “build­ing tight­ness”: new and re­stored build­ings fail to breath prop­erly, lead­ing to a mois­ture build-up which in turn re­sults in mould and rot.

The firm, Build­ing Foren­sics, has found that the ap­pli­ca­tion of new build­ing tight­ness con­di­tion­ing such as BREEAM, LEED and part L of the Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions, cou­pled to poor con­struc­tion man­age­ment, is caus­ing such build­ing de­fects and health is­sues.

Jeff Charl­ton of Build­ing Foren­sics says: “Build­ing Foren­sics has found in­creas­ing ev­i­dence that con­struc­tion man­age­ment is fail­ing to con­trol qual­ity stan­dards or, in­deed, even to com­ply with man­u­fac­tur­ers’ or ar­chi­tects’ de­sign or in­stal­la­tion re­quire­ments.

“Worse still, we’ve found that few sur­vey­ors or in­spec­tors have the equip­ment or train­ing to un­der­take non-in­tru­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion or to be able to iden­tify hid­den de­fects such as missing in­su­la­tion, ther­mal bridg­ing and the pres­ence of toxic chem­i­cals.”

He con­tin­ues: “And Build­ing Foren­sics is fur­ther find­ing that fa­cil­ity man­agers are in­creas­ingly mis-di­ag­nos­ing de­sign and build faults which cause con­den­sa­tion or pool­ing and mould.

“They wrongly at­tribute these symp­toms to pre­sumed leaks which in­sur­ers then wrongly pay to fix. And, mean­while, the health prob­lems con­tinue to get worse.” The com­bi­na­tion of high cel­lu­lose ma­te­ri­als and mis­use of vapour bar­ri­ers, ther­mal bridg­ing from poor or missing in­su­la­tion or fail­ure to seal the build­ing en­ve­lope prop­erly can re­sult in the growth of toxic mould such as Peni­cil­lium, Tri­co­derma and Stachy­botrys.

Jeff Charl­ton is at www.build­ing­foren­sics.co.uk

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