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Digital Subscriptions > Build It > April 2017 > Durable by design

Durable by design

By using the right materials and detailing them in the correct way, you can create a dwelling with a long lifespan and minimal maintenance, says architect Julian Owen
Breathable building products, such as the lime render used on this project by architects PAD Studio, help combat problems caused by movement and poor ventilation

All buildings need loving care and attention to keep them in good condition, especially in the abrasive and unpredictable UK climate, which subjects them to frequent changes in temperature and humidity. Some building materials expand when heated or their moisture content increases; others gradually crumble with repeated freezing and thawing and can erode in exposed areas by a continual blasting from wind and rain. Inside our homes, the contents are being worn down by their occupants – what you could call human attrition.

If you intend to build a lowmaintenance house, the deciding factors will be the materials and components used, how well they are designed and how they interact. The resolution to reduce the maintenance burden should be taken quite early in the design process, because there is a financial trade-off to be made between the investment in the build quality and the money that might be saved over the life of the house. Unfortunately, in the recent past, the UK construction industry has had a poor record in this respect, usually because the developers that build new houses do not expect to have to look after them once completed. This means that as long as the building looks great before it is sold, the heavy burden of maintaining it afterwards is basically not their problem.

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About Build It

The April edition of Build It magazine brings you a wealth of information to help make a success of your self build, renovation, extension or conversion project – including: • A stunning oak frame lodge in a woodland setting (page 22) • How to build a healthy home (page 58) • Upgrading your home's insulation (page 68) • Dealing with planning rejections (page 111) • How to get realistic quotes (page 115) … and more!