“Are We There Yet?”

“Are we there yet?” Sounds like a familiar question. We have asked it ourselves when we were kids traveling with our parents in the back of the station wagon, and we have heard it from our kids as we are lugging them through the airport to the ever-important family get-together. It’s the time old question of wanting to be there (wherever that end-place may be) and passing time as you are slightly annoyed that you are not where you would like to be.

But now I am a working adult and my kids are grown and drive themselves places. I work in the Building Envelope Industry and, yes, that encompasses a lot of territory on a building. I attend and present at lots of different trade shows. My most recent show was a Roofing Consultants Inc. (IIBEC as of April) Convention in Orlando. There are many good speakers and great discussions about the Building Envelope and where problems may arise with water getting in, air leakage, and proper material selections. So each time I leave one of the these shows, getting the opportunity to talk non-stop for several days about new products, existing products and the “must see” products, I can’t help but think, “Are we there yet in terms of great building envelope solutions to keep us dry, safe and breathing good quality interior air?”

That is quite a question and will make even the most experienced building envelope person stop and think. The best answer may be that we have so many choices to provide excellent protection from the outdoor elements and allow us to be comfortable and breath easy indoors, that we need to know how, why and when to select the products that will make up our wall, flooring and roofing choices or the six sides of the building.

Building Envelope Designers are well educated on the products to use, but most don’t think about keeping pests out (including termites). That typically is an “after-market” thought or sale. You would call the exterminator if you see bugs, or termites. The exterminator knows what pesticide to use to keep out those pesky creatures. But what if you didn’t have to use chemicals in your structure? Choosing materials that keep out water and air can also include a barrier for termites and pests. Physical Barriers are a new thought process for most Building Envelope Consultants. Adding these Physical Barriers does not mean you have to add MORE to the envelope, simply by choosing products that are DUAL purpose can provide the protection you need for AIR/WATER/PESTS. These products are primarily membranes that are fully adhered and applied to the building envelope in new construction, therefore making them permanent and maintenance-free. There are about six other new materials and new details which cover small areas of known vulnerability for pest entry, but most of these new areas are pretty small.

Welcome to the new age of building products. Makes me really think about wanting a new house built the right way. Are we there yet? Yes, and in a big way.

Jill Heidorf, CSI, IIBEC, WWYW