MYTH 5: EXTERNAL WALL INSULATION IMPROVES ANY AND ALL BUILDINGS

​Tens of thousands of traditional houses have been ‘improved’ through the provision of external wall insulation yet published in-depth research by none other than Colin King, the Assistant Director of the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in Wales, explains why this is one of the worst things you can do on so many different levels.

To take the aesthetic view first of all: the original style and appearance of all of these buildings will have been compromised, with original features lost and inevitable awkward junctions around pipes, etc. which will allow water to penetrate and provide perfect breeding grounds for mould.

It could be argued that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that function outweighs aesthetics here. The main issue lies more in a lack of understanding of the consequences of the changes, and in particular again how traditional buildings work. In effect, they are being treated as new build properties and are expected to perform in the same way, but therein lies the root of the problem. It has even been possible, and scandalously still is, to receive grants for external wall insulation, which can only be significantly detrimental to the property as it will no longer be able to breathe in the way that it was originally designed to.

Often in a short period of time the visual consequences of sealing up the building will be black mould, with potential knock-on potential consequences for occupant health. The cost of such ‘improvement’ work can be astronomic; in health terms, as well as the financial one and as an energy-saving measure, it will never be paid back.

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