Exclusive Research: The Building Envelope

Builders and architects reveal what's changing, or not, in their quest to deliver a dependable water, air, and thermal barrier

By Mike Beirne, Senior Editor | October 1, 2018
Courtesy: Henry Blueskin

The tug-of-war between “We’ve always done it this way,” and trying new building materials or construction methods probably is most active in the building-envelope category. Manufacturers continue to introduce new products and techniques for preventing air and water infiltration to a builder audience hungry for what the latest in construction science has to offer but wary of being guinea pigs, for fear of failure and expensive callbacks. 

Fifty-seven percent of builders and architects in Professional Builder’s survey indicated that, during the past two years, they haven’t changed the building-envelope materials or construction methods they use or specify. Among those that have made a change, 27.2 percent are still assessing the outcome and 14 percent that did try something new have been pleased with the results. However, 48 percent of survey participants say that, compared with two years ago, they have dedicated more resources to attaining tighter building shells, and 43 percent have assigned more time, labor, and material to caulking and gasketing systems for sealing their homes.

Demand for building-envelope innovation is not consumer driven, as those considerations are behind the wall and out of sight for homebuyers—that is, until their home has a leak. Just 26.9 percent of participants agreed that building-envelope construction is among their customers’ top considerations.



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Mike Beirne is the senior editor of Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines. A two-time Jesse H. Neal Award winner, Mike has nearly 30 years of journalism experience plus numerous news and feature writing awards, including honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Business Press Editors, and the National Association of Real Estate Editors. He also operated a masonry restoration business for more than two decades.