We have previously discussed the misconceptions about the financial cost of natural materials in energy efficient homes. While costs may, in some cases, be higher than synthetic insulations the gap is often much smaller than people realise, if at all. With the added advantage of enhanced comfort and the significantly reduced risk to health and the longevity of the building fabric, Pavatex wood fibre is rapidly becoming the material of choice for many a specification.
Heat and Moisture
When choosing materials, an architect or contractor needs understand that it’s not just about keeping the heat in in winter, but ensuring that moisture is controlled in the fabric and does not build up to excessive levels. If this happens, trapped moisture can cause mould which leads to wet rot, dry rot or health problems for the occupants.
The Cost of Maintainance
Making a small financial saving when building with a synthetic material (like PIR used in SIPS panels) can actually end up costing much more further down the line. This point has been highlighted recently, as 16 residents of an energy efficient housing project have complained that their houses are “rotting”, leaving the developers to foot the bill.
8 years ago, the UK government ran a competition to produce low cost energy efficient homes which was won by Taylor Wimpey. 122 houses were designed and constructed in Milton Keynes at a cost of around £60,000 to build. Now, just 7 years after completion, residents are reporting problems with the buildings.
We are aware of problems to some homes, but have not seen the report so cannot comment fully […] however, the problems were all related to windows and cladding detailing.
Gary Hibbard, speaking to the Architects Journal
The Right Products
Taylor Wimpey’s own report noted poor workmanship, allowing moisture into the building fabric which could not escape quickly enough. The moisture built up and caused wet rot to in supporting timbers.
Natural Building Technologies wall build ups using products like Pavatherm Plus, Pavatherm Combi and Diffutherm. These products allow moisture out of the structure more quickly than it gets in, thus preserving the building fabric. The materials used in the Taylor Wimpey constructions may be to blame for the estimated £12 million worth of repairs that will have to be undertaken, which shows the importance of choosing the right materials at the beginning of a project.