Climate change is affecting us all , but in unexpected ways. It not all about warmer temperatures and fitting more insulation. For our traditional buildings it can be simpler and more dramatic than that.
One of the impacts of climate change is new patterns of weather. We caught this summer shower on visit to Torridon.
The pattern of rainfall we experience today is very different form that of the Victorian period or earlier. Most traditional buildings we visit, event domestic ones, do not have gutters that can cope with this amount of rainfall.
Traditional buildings constructed using materials such as stone and slate are very resilient materials, but they still need to be looked after. With rainfall like this any defects in the building will be quickly exposed. Water will find its way into the structure, soaking stonework and timber.
The single greatest cause of deterioration in a traditional building is water. It dissolves minerals, corrodes metals, it enables fungal growth and rot and softens timber allowing insects to use it as a source of food. It can easily flow through the structure of a buildings causing damage over a wide area.
When we measure the roofs and run the calculations, we often find that the gutters often need to double in size. This can create not only a cost issue, but also a heritage issue. There are solutions that can be carried out, with minimal impact on the historic appearance.
Water also destroys the performance of thermal insulation. So there is no point in carrying out thermal improvements to your property, until you have first tackled the condition of the roof, walls and gutters ! Not only that, retrofit measures have to be designed carefully to ensure that you can continue to monitor, maintain and repair the building fabric in the future.
There are difficult challenges ahead, make sure you get expert advice before committing to major expenditure.
MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects and principal designers working with traditional buildings throughout Scotland.