Thursday, 19 January 2012

Buildings need Doctors, too!

Do you think that a building can be sick?, clipart
Do you think that a building can be sick?
Image Credit: MS Office ClipArt: doctors, environments, sick buildings

Oh yes, buildings can be sick. The term Sick Building Syndrome has been around for years and refers generally to air quality issues caused by inadequate heating and ventilation systems, outgassing of materials and organic compounds such as mold in the air. Mostly used for the work place, Sick Building Syndrome is also applicable for residential buildings.

Ok, buildings don’t sneeze, sniffle or blow their noses to indicate that they are sick. But there are telltale signs. Musty smells, damp and humid air, wet patches on walls and ceilings, cracks in walls and ceilings, sloping and bouncy floors, leaning walls and many more. Then there is the “illness” behind walls: old, faulty and incorrect wiring, deteriorating plumbing and insect infestations, sometimes only apparent after a more destructive investigation.

And like any grumpy patient suffering from ailments the building will make its “discomfort” known, often by making the inhabitants sick. Mold is a serious matter and if there are signs it needs to be addressed immediately. Termites can literally eat your house around you, weakening the structure and in worst case scenarios have whole walls collapse. Faulty wiring can cause fires, and so on.

As professional contractors we have an affinity for buildings, we like buildings and we often dismay at the state we often find them in. Sometimes even the most obvious signs seem to have been ignored by the home owner, or they waited until the problem became widespread and the whole house “turned on them.”

Our best recommendation is to do regular checks, cleaning, maintenance and repair on your building. This is the most cost effective way to keep your home and family healthy. To minimize expenditures, plan your repairs and do the work in stages. If you play ostrich and think the problem will go away, you will only be faced with a much larger problem down the line…when a simple fix just won’t do…and instead of a general MD your house might be in need of a surgeon.

The good news, of course, is that most problems can be fixed. Buildings are often more forgiving and resilient than we think, especially when the foundations and structures are sound.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: The Enrichment Mini-Courses Program, May 7-11, 2012: Carleton University: 223 Heritage 101: Did you know that buildings need doctors too? When Home Buying, Mind your Manors!
Homeowner's Inspection Checklist: Conduct your own inspection to keep your home in top condition.

We got quoted on the Yahoo! JAPAN Discussion Board:

uziama6 's question:

Translate the following English.

Do you think that a building can be sick? The Norfolk Building in England was sick. So was the Five Ways House in Birmingham, USA. The Department of Motor Vehicles Building in Boston, USA, was too. But how can a building be sick? And what doctor do you call?

yanie431's answer:

... this is a disease of the building =>

Big Thanks to yanie431!

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