The Coming Condensation Catastrophe That Could Make Your New Home Worthless

Better Australian building regulations require modern homes to be more energy efficient. And that’s a good thing. Because it (generally) makes homes less dependent on energy (heating and cooling) to make them comfortable.

A byproduct of these improved regulations is that modern homes are more airtight. Another good thing. Because this helps to stop the transfer of heat in and out of your home, keeping the internal temperature more stable.

The problem is an issue of balance. When you change one aspect of how a home ‘works’, you must consider how that may affect other things in your home. It’s a little like the way a boat moves as you change the weight distribution. Too much weight on one side causes it to tip. And if the balance becomes too uneven, you risk capsizing. And that’s what’s happening with many new homes.

Why So Many New Homes Are Becoming Dangerously Unbalanced

In order to meet new, higher energy efficiency standards (so they can make energy-efficiency claims on their packaging), product manufacturers are improving the airtightness of their building materials. This is especially true with the seals on windows and doors.

These product improvements are leading to decreased airflow. And homes that are becoming ‘accidentally’ airtight. Which is exposing an invisible problem that previously went undetected: moisture.

Without good ventilation (airflow), moisture can linger, condense into full-blown water droplets, leading to mould and premature degradation of a home’s structure. One drop of water has little affect. But one drop of water, every day, over ten years, can be catastrophic.

How Serious Is This Problem?

As with many things, the U.S. and Canada are a few years ahead of Australia with increased energy efficiency regulations. As a result, they are having to fix many of the problems that are only just now coming our way. Spending millions to fix moisture issues in new homes. And in some cases, demolishing entire homes to start construction again. It’s an insurance nightmare!

And we’re starting to see this in Australia now too. Browse any new home Facebook Group and you’ll read story after story about mould, and wood rot in new homes. The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) ruled that one Redcliffe home (north of Brisbane) had to be demolished because of mould.

How To Ensure Your Home Is Solid, Safe, And Securely Balanced

Raising the building standards in one area requires balancing those standards in other areas of design and construction – whether it’s regulation or not. And that means addressing the root causes of condensation before they have a chance to become an issue.

Condensation forms when there is a temperature differential between two surfaces. The most familiar example is the water droplets that form on the outside of your drinking glass on a hot day.

Adelaide Hills homeowners struggle most with condensation (and ensuring mould, and timber rot doesn’t happen) when the temperature outside is colder than the temperature inside. Condensation forms on conductive surfaces that are linked (inside to outside) either directly (like windows) or indirectly (through internal thermal bridges).

How To Eliminate Conduction And Thermal Bridging

Firstly, you must ensure any product that is exposed to differing temperatures (like windows) are not made of conductive material. Most standard window frames are made from aluminium, a highly conductive metal. That’s why we recommend uPVC window frames instead.

Secondly, you must ensure nothing connects internal and external surfaces of differing temperature. That’s why insulation (installed with supreme attention to detail) is so important.

Free Expert Advice To Ensure Your New Home Doesn’t Suffer Condensation Catastrophe

Building a comfortable, energy-efficient home requires balance in design and construction. Something as seemingly minor as the wrong window frames can lead to condensation mould, and timber rot issues that compromise the comfort, safety, and longevity of your home.

Whether you’re ready to build or still looking at your options, one of the best things you can do is pick up a copy of our special report, The 5 Key Skills of an Energy Efficient Builder. we’d be glad to show you examples of homes that we’ve built to last. We’ll go through the design elements, workmanship details, and all the costs (and options) with you.

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