It’s not your imagination: your house is taking more of a beating from the weather than in the past. Storms, freezing rain, heavy rains and strong winds are nothing new; but with the climate change of recent decades, the frequency and severity of these disturbances have been increasing—and the consequences are serious for certain types of buildings.
The new reality in construction and renovation
If you’re planning major work on your home, you need to consider some of the risks associated with climate change. They are part of the new reality, whether you’re reshingling the roof, replacing the exterior cladding, upgrading doors and windows or enlarging your house. The long-term performance of its elements and maintenance of a healthy indoor environment depend on these considerations.
The new climate reality also demands that you inspect your house more often and step up maintenance of its building envelope to guard against premature deterioration.
This chart summarizes the impacts of the changes in the weather noted in recent years.
|Climate phenomena |
on the rise in Quebec
|Impacts on buildings|
|More frequent freeze/thaw cycles|
|Thawing and rain in winter|
|Heavy rains (sudden flooding)|
|High winds (storms)|
|Summer heat waves|
|Higher pollen concentrations in the air|
|Bacteria, virus and parasite growth in waterways (in southern Quebec)|
Why worry about these consequences? Because the majority of houses in existence today were designed and built before scientists began noticing the gradual changes in our climates. As a result, properties often contain built-in flaws that can cause their premature deterioration.
Monitor dangers and fix faults… without delay
What can we do to help existing buildings (especially older ones) better resist the ravages of the weather? Most important, keep our eyes open—more often and wider—to detect shortcomings and correct them as quickly as possible.
To that end, conducting seasonal inspections and preventive maintenance takes on capital importance. To be sure you don’t forget anything, use our practical checklists for spring, summer, fall and winter.
These days, you should take things a bit further. After an episode of wild weather, immediately inspect the condition of your home’s exterior. If you notice a problem, take corrective action right away: fixing any damage (even if it appears to be minor) will prevent it from worsening the next time Mother Nature shows her wrath.
More rigour during renos
Climate change also means that when it comes to repairs and renovations, a more thorough job is a must. You should:
- review current systems with more stringent resistance and performance criteria and take all necessary corrective actions; and
- opt for heavier-duty materials and employ best practices during the actual work.
“Most of the technical solutions in construction practices already exist, but they aren’t always as rigorously applied as they should be,” writes building expert Mario Canuel in a magazine article on the impact of climate phenomena.1
The following chart lists elements that merit greater attention because of our changing climate and its impacts.
|Element||What to monitor|
|Doors and windows|
|Ventilation and air conditioning|
1. Source: Mario Canuel, “Changements climatiques – La nécessaire adaptation de nos façons de construire,” Formes magazine (2013, Vol. 9, No. 3).