I must admit, as I pulled up to the office on 8 January, I was still in holiday mode, and thinking about our family trip along the beautiful, but severely earthquake affected coastline between Christchurch and my old home town of Blenheim.
Things have certainly changed. The road is clearly still under construction and repair, but there has been incredible progress given the extent of damage that occurred.
In a few areas, the road has even been relocated out to where the sea once was. In some places, there are new sandy beaches and new rock beds. In other places, there are large open spaces where a side of a mountain used to be.
As I walked into the office and put my feet under the desk, I was finally in work mode and pondered 2018, and the changes on the horizon.
In the building surveying world, there are always changes. For example, changes in technology and changes in the way we assess buildings.
The latest discussions and changes in legislation on healthy homes had me reconsidering what is a healthy home? Is it a home that does not suffer from mould issues and isn’t a cold home because of how it was built? Just because newer homes have better insulation and heating systems, does that make them a better home?
These things alone certainly do not make a healthy home.
I recently assessed a mould problem in a brand-new apartment block. It had covenants to ensure occupiers did not have washing visible from the exterior – which is not uncommon in high density developments.
This led to occupiers drying clothes inside, leading to dampness and a very mouldy, unhealthy home, and a continuous layer of mould was found under the carpet of the main bedroom.
This nicely heated and insulated apartment allowed for much more humid conditions that led to the perfect environment for mould.
On the other side of the coin, I had the joy of assessing the health of five identical houses built around 1955 (ex-state homes). I mention the word ‘joy’ because I love the simplicity and durability of dwelling houses built in this era.
Three of these houses did not have any substantial insulation at all. However, two had installed a layer of wool insulation across the ceiling which was 150mm thick, and there was also a good layer of insulation to the floor.
Both insulated houses suffered from mould. These two houses were right next to each other and in a similar environment.
The healthy homes law considers the need for ventilation but how will it be put into practice? With the proposed changes, strong guidance is required to educate the public on issues such as ventilation and moisture build up.
Changes are often needed, and they always create new opportunities, such as more work, new jobs and of course new sandy beaches!