Have you recently started the journey to homeownership? Whether you’re building your dream home or planning to purchase an existing property, you’re likely familiar with just how confusing the process can be. One area of concern for many new and prospective homeowners is the inclusion of vapour barriers. Unless you’re employed within the building trades, a vapour barrier may seem like a non-negotiable feature. After all, who wouldn’t want to protect their home from moisture? Avoiding mould, mildew and property damage is high on most homeowners’ list of priorities, but vapour barriers are a relatively complicated subject. Depending on where your property will be located and the local climate, vapour barriers can actually do more harm than good.
Understanding Vapour Barriers
At first blush, a vapour barrier sounds like a great idea for any property. You don’t want to deal with moisture intrusion, and the name alone promises you won’t have to when you have vapour barriers installed. The truth is, there’s more to controlling moisture than installing a barrier system in some cases.
Unlike air barriers, which control the flow of air and the moisture it naturally contains, vapour barriers do absolutely nothing to modify air flow. Instead, they regulate the flow of moisture from the outside of your home to the inside. Unfortunately, they can also work in the opposite direction. This means that vapour barriers can prevent inward drying and cause a host of moisture problems on their own. Factors affected by your lifestyle and actions within the home, the construction process and pressure imbalances can all contribute to moisture issues down the road with a vapour barrier in place.
Are Vapour Barriers Necessary?
For some homeowners, vapour barriers are an important part of overall protection and property maintenance. For others, they may not be quite so helpful. Without understanding where a particular property lies on this spectrum, you may not want to make purchasing or construction decisions based solely upon the presence of vapour barriers.
The best way to determine whether vapour barriers are a help or a hindrance is to work with a professional building inspection company. If you’re building a new home, a reputable building inspector can ensure that vapour barriers are correctly implemented during stage construction inspections. Along the way, they may be able to protect you from a host of other building defects and construction errors.
For prospective property owners considering the purchase of a new home, a thorough pre-purchase inspection report can provide a wealth of information. Not only will you be able to determine how the presence, or absence, of a vapour barrier will affect your new home; you’ll also learn about any other unseen issues which may be plaguing the property. Don’t let the lack of a proper building inspection leave you facing defects and structural problems in the future. Contact a reliable, experienced building inspection company before assuming ownership of a new property.
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