Building Pathology and Sick Building Syndrome are two new key phrases you’ll be hearing a lot about over the next decade or two.
Building Pathology (a.k.a Sick Building Syndrome) is defined as the scientific study of the nature of building failure and its causes, processes, development, and consequences. We, at Hampstead Builders Ltd have seen this on many occasions as we are brought in to deal with numerous building defects that aren’t run-of-the-mill building projects, mainly because they’ve been largely caused by:
- Installation of materials that have not been understood correctly
- Workmen that are installing materials they do not understand, or with which they are not familiar.
With the rapid advancement of technology, new building materials are entering the market so quickly, that many are being installed without the necessary comprehension of just how they will work in conjunction with the old / new building where they’re being installed.
Either through lack of funds or ignorance, building companies are not keeping up with the new specifications and training needed to ensure that the materials don’t cause more problems than they are there to solve.
Example of Sick Building Syndrome
Let’s take a 100 yr old property in Hampstead. The technology behind the construction of the building and the materials would’ve been tried and tested over the previous 50 years and all major problems built out. For its first 50 years the property probably didn’t have many major changes. To begin with, the WC is moved indoors, followed by the addition of a bathroom. So an area is introduced into the house that generates a lot of dampness.
The old property can take this in its stride because the walls and ceiling breathe, the windows rattle and drafts are everywhere. Next it’s time to re-decorate all the ceilings and walls, replacing the old distemper paint with the modern emulsions containing PVA.
Essentially this seals the ceilings and walls so they can’t breathe. Within a decade the windows are changed to new draught-proof double-glazing, further sealing the property. The loft is insulated to keep the heat in. The owners knock holes all over the place and re-wire the property, running in new pipes for heating. So now it’s totally modernised and looks lovely and comfortable to live in, but it may be harbouring big problems for the owners.
Unfortunately more and more properties are starting to develop problems because of all the above, hence the new terms:
- Sick Building Syndrome
- Building Pathology
The story does not stop here:
- We add even more insulation to roofs and walls these days
- Live with a higher volume of people per square metre, so we need more bathrooms
- We add radio frequencies to cover smaller areas (producing hotspots)
- We are running more cables that can produce electromagnetic radiation
Building pathology looks into all of the above and suggests ways of rectifying the problems that we are building into our properties, before and after they’ve become sick.