Building Science, just by the nature of the word “science”, sounds like a really complex topic, and, well, if you get down to the nitty-gritty of it all – then yeah, it can get pretty complex.
But looking at building science on a simple level is still very useful. Simply put, building science is the study of how air, heat and moisture interact with buildings. So to bring it to you, I’ve got a simple exercise I’d like you to do. You ready?
The next time you walk through your front door at home, close it behind you and I want you to stand there at your entrance for a moment and take the time to notice these five things.
1. What is the temperature like inside your house compared to outside?
Is there a large temperature difference or only a slight temperature difference? Does your house keep you comfortable without turning on the air conditioning or putting on a fire? The effectiveness of your walls / glazing, roof and floor in regulating temperature is a key component of building science.
2. Are there any musty smells?
If you have musty smells you might have a long-standing water leak or condensation problem potentially causing mould (maybe inside your walls?) and you probably have insufficient ventilation.
3. Is there any visible mould on your walls or ceiling and if so, where is it?
Mould means that your house has surfaces that get too cold and/or water leaks and that those areas can’t dry out quickly enough.
4. Can you feel a draught from underneath your front door on your ankles?
If you can feel air on your ankles, your front door is not properly sealed against air leaks and there is a good chance that you will be living in a house that has a very low overall air tightness score. This means you are likely spending too much money on reconditioning uncomfortable air from outside as your conditioned air will leak out of the gaps and cracks that shouldn’t be there
5. Is there ever any condensation on your windows – the frame or the glass?
This means that the surface temperature of either your frame and/or the glass are dipping to the dew point (the temperature at which moisture in the air turns into water) and this is usually due to the poor thermal performance of that window system. This wetness cycle on the windows will likely cause mould growth over time.
The level that the five of these things are noticeable gives you an idea of how healthy, durable and energy efficient your house is and I would hazard a guess that you have had a conversation with a friend or family member about at least one of these things, amirite?
There, bravo you’re a building scientist!!
If you have identified any of the 5 things above as a problem, then come talk to us to figure out how to go about improving the performance of your existing or your next house!
P.S. If you wanna get really tricky then go out and buy yourself a simple weather station from Bunnings ($25) and monitor your indoor /outdoor temperature and humidity. Ideal indoor humidity conditions are between 40% and 60% for building and occupant health. Does your house stay within those parameters?