• Importance of Building envelope maintenance

What is a building envelope?

The Building Envelope is the outer shell or ‘skin’ of any building. It’s made up of four main components: the foundation, walls, roof and windows. Together these components make up the system that separates your building from the outdoor environment. The building’s performance may depend primarily on the building envelope or, alternatively, on the operation of other sub-systems (such as mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems).

Does your building envelope doing its job?

The best building envelope must be designed and specified to keep out extreme temperature, moisture as vapour or liquid, dust and wind. The building envelope should not trap moisture, air and other weather elements within the walls.  This keeps wall components from deteriorating, and continue to decay.  The longer you wait for treatment, the more expensive it is likely to be.

Why you should bother with building science, not just fixing leaks?

A complete building envelope is crucial for any building to function at its best. No matter how well a component of the envelope works, if the other components are not performing at their optimal levels, then the entire system will suffer. Therefore, it’s important to treat your building envelope as a whole. Unfortunately, many people treat their building envelope as though it was made up of individual parts that can be repaired in isolation rather than as a complete system.

“Temporary” Fixes

We know it’s tempting to try the easy fix, but that’s what gets us into trouble. If you have a leak, it may seem like an easy fix to add some sealant or tape. However, that’s not fixing anything. It’s just delaying the inevitable. A temporary fix is just that: temporary. It can work for a few days or even a few months, but eventually you’re going to have bigger issues on your hands.

One of the biggest problems that property owners and managers face is the fact that they often don’t know exactly what should be done when renovating a building’s envelope.

For example, when replacing windows, many assume that this will take care of all air leaks for good or to improve overall aesthetics. However, this isn’t necessarily true. When you fail to take a whole-building approach to making repairs and renovations, you run the risk of overlooking other issues that could affect your building’s performance.

When viewing your building envelope as a complete system there are many benefits you will gain from such practices:

  • Improved level of comfort for everyone inside the building. This is because when it is treated as a complete system, there is no need for constant maintenance or repairs since the entire thing is being taken care of at once.
  • Save on energy costs due to better insulation. If the entire system works together properly, then there should be no holes or leaks in the structure to let out warm air during winter or cool air during summer months. This means that heating and cooling costs will be minimized.
  • Aesthetic Improvements. One of the first things people notice about a building is its exterior. In fact, it’s often what people will use to form their first impression. If the building envelope, a dated design can be a major deterrent for buyers and renters. That’s where renewing your building envelope can make a big difference in the overall appeal of your property.
  • Reduces emissions and carbon footprints for your buildings

Building condition assessment report is a great tool to have a clear look at the building and see what repairs are needed: Whether you need to do repairs in the short term, as well as what will be required in the longer term, complete with estimated costs.

Preventing building envelope issues

A building envelope requires periodic inspections and maintenance to ensure structural integrity just like your car, Why? You might ask “haven’t had any complaints so everything must be OK. Well – not quite! All the building components/ materials have certain life expectancy. The life expectancy assessment for building components of a building enclosure can be referred at Carbon Leadership forum.

BC Housing guidance on Building envelope maintenance:

BC Housing guidance says that your strata corporation should have a maintenance and inspection schedule for the building envelope. If not:

  • It is important to communicate the need for this precaution to the strata council in writing.
  • The strata corporation’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is the best place to inform the owners about the need for a maintenance program and to get their support.
  • Propose an idea to the AGM the need for a maintenance program of the of the building envelope and that the minutes of this meeting be recorded as such.

Here are some of the risks you face when you fail to treat your building envelope as a whole:

  • Poor indoor air quality. According to World Health Organization(WHO) guidelines for indoor air quality , there is clinical evidence that exposure to mould and other dampness-related microbial agents increases your risk of rare conditions like hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, chronic rhinosinusitis, and allergic fungal sinusitis.
  • Exposing your building to greater risks of failure. If one component of your envelope fails, then this can cause other components to fail as well. These dangers are avoidable with complete system care.
  • Requiring more renovation work down the road. If you make repairs to only one aspect of the building, you’re likely going to need to do more work in the future because all parts of the building work together and rely on each other. This can lead to costly damage and could eventually affect your property values.
  • Compromising efficiency and sustainability goals.

Jericho partners with building science engineer (aka Envelope engineer) and commercial/ multi-family building owners to avoid the costly property damage, safety issues, tenant dissatisfaction and frustration that results from envelope defects.

Our knowledge and expertise ensure that our client’s building assets are repaired, and protected– both now and for years to come. Contact us now!

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