Building Science is an important part of real estate.
I define building science as “The physiology of how buildings work.” Similar to our bodies, a building or structure is affected by extrinsic and intrinsic factors, biological and otherwise, and responds accordingly. It doesn’t care what you think.
I wrote a chapter in an upcoming book in which I talk about building science and value engineering in real estate – stay tuned – as of now it is set for a March 2021 release.
You can’t be a successful real estate investor without at least a basic understanding of building science.
And you can’t ignore building science principles if you want to own and maintain real estate that increases in value and produces cash flow.
I often quote building scientist Dr. Joe Lstiburek, principal at Building Science Corporation. He has written profusely about building science topics (most of his articles are free to download). He also is responsible for many of our current building codes and climate zone distinctions. There are good reasons that the Wall Street Journal refers to Joe as, “The Dean of North American Building Science.” Having studied with Joe, I enjoy the luxury of him answering my questions via email (apparently I haven’t worn out my welcome yet).
In addition to Dr. Joe, Green Building Advisor and Fine Homebuilding (and many others) have excellent education available no matter your current level of skill or understanding.
Is it possible to get bad building science advice?
In my opinion, any time someone says, “I’ve done it this way for 30 years,” you may want to be at least somewhat skeptical. Building science knowledge continues to evolve. We know more now than we did when we put lead and asbestos in building materials.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us to be more cognizant of building science principles. In a commercial setting, the pandemic has forced us to think about ventilation and indoor air quality in ways we had never previously considered.
For example, I see outdoor dining “pods” that allow restaurants the ability to offer “safe” dining.
These enclosures signify a valiant effort, but they make me shake my head and sigh. The moment a server enters the “pod”, all bets are off. Compliance with government regulations, sure. Steeped in building science principles, maybe in a weak way. Sympathy for the restaurant industry and the pain they have had to endure, absolutely.
At least the “pods” don’t have a wall cavity in which to accumulate condensation and mold.
I had to close my eye care office for five weeks during the pandemic. During this time, since I had nothing else to do, I began studying indoor air quality as well as the factors that influence it.
My thinking was, as a healthcare provider, I really needed to get a handle on equipping my facility to be as clean and sterile as possible in order to re-open safely…including air quality as well as maintaining sterile surfaces.
My research prompted me to record and publish four videos on indoor air quality (feel free to employ as a cure for insomnia at www.DrLeeNewton.com/training). My staff and I practice what we preach in order for our patients to perceive that it is not “business as usual” for us during the pandemic.
Paradoxically, it is becoming business as usual.
I have always enjoyed the Fine Homebuilding crew and their weekly podcast – delving into the complex subjects that the DIY websites out there are afraid to tackle or don’t know they should tackle.
In a recent podcast, (episode #315), the crew had interviewed a physician who was passionate about air quality. Given my background and recent research, I could not help but chime in with comments from my own perspective. The topic is indoor air quality vis-à-vis interior humidity levels, and I offer an additional health perspective on why humidity should not be less than 30%.
Here is the video link to show #321 in which Patrick McCombe, Rob Wotzak, and Brian Pontolilo read and discuss my letter starting at about the 18:30 mark (also listen via your favorite podcast player):
As you think about that, remember that building science concepts play a big role in the real estate space, starting with the air you breathe.
Until next time,
Dr. Lee Newton
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