Foresight is the key in modern construction

The requirements and characteristics of many building materials are determined by European standards. However, are Europe-wide standards sufficient to take account of weather conditions in northern Europe?

In recent decades, housebuilding was primarily based on traditional expertise, with faults and problems taking time to emerge. Today's builders, on the other hand, have a good opportunity to obtain advance knowledge of how different structures withstand different conditions.

Building materials are controlled by European test standards, i.e. the EN standards. However, these standards barely apply to actual structural solutions: different countries have their own structural solutions due to their cultures and climates.

"Structural solutions just have to vary, for example between the north and south," says Juha Vinha, Professor of Building Physics at the University of Tampere.

According to Vinha, the risk exposure of different structural solutions can now be significantly reduced by following existing guidelines. If necessary, advanced calculation programs can be used to assess the moisture engineering of structures in advance.

“Today, there is no longer any need to build based on trial and error,”

According to Vinha, however, increased knowledge and improved inspection methods are not being used, as they should, to improve the moisture engineering of buildings. Instead, cheaper but riskier solutions are still applied in many cases.

”In too many cases, changes are only made when moisture damage begins to show. Climate change will exacerbate the situation. Many current mistakes will only be noticed a few decades later."

Vinha believes that a lesson could be learned from structural strength design.

“With regard to the load-bearing capacity of structures, risks must be eliminated in all cases on the basis of good planning and sufficient levels of certainty. You cannot wait until a building collapses before you make changes. Account should always be taken of safety principles and the likely effects of climate change in the moisture engineering of structures," he says.