Climate change and buildings


Climate Change Issues

I have noticed that the weather conditions over at least the last 5 years are changing. This is beginning to have an effect on property, particularly older and period property. Those changes will affect how and where repairs are needed.

This has resulted in calls to older houses in particular because the roofs have leaked. It is becoming clear that older houses are more vulnerable than before and that single pantile roof coverings are particularly at risk of leaks. This is the same for period coverings, especially those where no underlays are provided. It is often found that either prolonged rain overwhelms the gutters or that strong wind, driven rain penetrates areas that have, in the past, been satisfactory. This mainly arises around valleys, ridges, verges or dormers. The wetter climate also means that wetter weather is occurring more from a north-easterly direction compared to colder weather from that direction in the past. It is becoming evident that older buildings are not as able to cope with the greater extent of prevailing weather from that direction than they have before.

Unless I find actual evidence on the day of the leak, I cannot report one. Even if there is staining, this can be intermittent and needs to be assessed along with other evidence before a progressive leak can be reasonably concluded. It is becoming apparent that period property roofs and chimneys are becoming more vulnerable and that the incidents of saturation are getting higher. If evidence of previous leaks are covered up by an occupier or seller, that makes it more difficult to see, especially on the limitations of a single inspection.

With the greater levels of rainfall, a generally wetter environment, the energy crisis and reduced levels of ventilation, buildings are also becoming more vulnerable to the effects of condensation where previously they had not. We are seeing greater instances of condensation in buildings, of any age and the fact that none was seen on an inspection doesn’t mean none will occur in the future. Condensation, air movement and vapor entrapment are likely to become more prevalent issues in the future as climate conditions change to a warm and wetter environment.

Modern properties aren’t immune from the climate and weather changes. Materials used in modern construction can be less robust and will still require a good level of maintenance and repair.