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Building envelopes and the importance of good construction

A building envelope is a physical separation of a conditioned and unconditioned environment within a building. The envelope needs to be able to withstand water, be safe and be energy efficient.

The purpose of a building envelope is to make a kind of shell around a building, providing additional protection against what's inside. It's essential that anyone looking to buy a property knows if there is an envelope and if it is watertight, efficient and safe. If not, then it needs to be repaired, because not doing so can lower the life of a building.

What can you do to make sure there's a reduced risk of problems with a building's envelope?

One thing that is important is making sure you know the history of the building before you have an investigation into the need for renovations or reuse of older buildings. You want to be able to see the condition of the building, but it's also essential to limit the intrusiveness of an investigation when possible. Having the building's history can help.

Another thing that's good to do is to perform a field inspection. Examining the current conditions of the building will give you an idea of whether or not the building's envelope is in good condition. For instance, if there are leaks, then you might find that there are also flashing issues. Similarly, a leak in a bathroom could indicate a problem with pipes, not necessarily the building's envelope.

You can also look at the building's envelope from the outside. An inspector will look at the condition of the outside of the building to see if there are parts of its masonry that have been displaced or to see if there are cracks or other damage. Fixing the external issues will improve the building's appearance, but the causes of those issues also have to be evaluated.

If you hire someone to perform an inspection, it's essential that you look into the building's structure and envelope to make sure it's providing the right level of protection.

If the inspector misses problems or repairs are not made to address the cause of problems, you may find that the building has further issues down the line. In those cases, you may be able to seek compensation from those who were supposed to make sure that the building you purchased was in good condition and identify problems in need of repair.

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