Healthy Homes: The Future of Wellness
Did you know that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States? In fact, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year; and asthma affects more than 25 million. How do you, as a builder, tackle the respiratory issue from the ground up? Clean "healthy" homes are becoming mainstream and it is where homebuyers are turning in order to combat some of these problems.
The urge for wellness is compelling, however, building a healthy home can be a catch 22. While trying to prevent outdoor pollution and pollen from sneaking inside due to drafts and leaks, a home that is too airtight can actually be more tainted. Energy-efficient, well-sealed homes can trap chemicals and other irritants.
There are several factors to contemplate when trying to find that perfect balance of air quality. If healthy building standards are important to your buyers, consider these points when strategizing materials, schedules, and budgets.
• Conduct third-party certified air-quality tests to assess the particulates, then improve upon those numbers.
• Provide balanced ventilation to distribute and filter air properly. By keeping air changes to a minimum, drafty corners of homes will stay free of dust and will ensure fresh air is circulated throughout the home.
• Carbon monoxide is odorless and fatal, so it’s essential to install CO2 detectors on every floor.
• To decrease the problems from chemicals being emitted from new building materials, use as many natural products as possible. For example, select cabinets made of real wood or choose solid surface kitchen countertops such as slate, granite, or marble. This eliminates the adhesives associated with laminates.
• Taking the proper precautions to prevent mold growth is a no-brainer. Exterior insulation will warm the exterior sheathing so that the inside face of the sheathing does not become a condensing surface. Condensation in the walls means moisture which may lead to structural issues in the future. It’s also important to properly flash exterior penetrations, windows, and the roof to move water away from the home. Once water finds its way in, the home is no longer truly healthy.
• And last but not least, take pride in your work and keep a clean worksite. Clients want transparency, so by snapping a few photos of wall cavities that are free of sawdust and dirt reinforces your integrity and commitment to a healthy home.