Are you thinking about your home’s health when renovating or building?
Building Biologist, Zara D’Cotta from The Healthy Home, shares great insights on the impact of the latest National Construction Code updates, and what else to consider when designing, building and renovating with your home’s health in mind.
This episode is part of a special series on the National Construction Code, and NCC 2022.
Listen to the episode now.
Hello! This is episode 287, and I’m talking with Building Biologist, Zara D’Cotta, from The Healthy Home. She’s here to talk about healthy buildings and share her thoughts on how recent National Construction Code changes might affect how healthy our buildings are.
Australian homes have been described as “glorified tents” with construction techniques changing very little over decades. Our climate is considered ‘mild’ when compared to parts of the world that experience extreme heat or cold.
Consequently, many homes built in Australia are built without the climate in mind. And, as we’ve had rising energy efficiency standards demanding increased air tightness and insulation, it actually poses a risky issue in the health of our buildings, and the health of us living in them.
We haven’t heard much about it in Australia, but increased air tightness, and a more-is-better approach to insulation, when used without a whole-of-home approach, has resulted in a rising number of mould problems and structural moisture damage to homes in the UK, US, Europe and our nearest neighbour New Zealand.
Coined ‘leaky building syndrome’, a lot has been done to improve building regulations in those locations.
The question is now: will Australia learn fast enough, and be able to avoid the issues experienced elsewhere?
In my conversation with Zara, which is across this and the next episode, we talk about your home’s health, and what to know about its construction and design to ensure you don’t create a hazardous environment for yourself.
And, Zara will also share her insights into the National Construction Code updates, and what to consider for great outcomes in your project.
Whether you’re renovating or building new, this information will be super helpful for you.
Now, let’s dive in!
After my last couple of episodes introducing you to the National Construction Code, and taking you through the specific updates as part of NCC2022, I wondered if you thought … ‘holy cow, that’s A LOT!’ And ‘what a headache, that’s just more I need to worry about with my project’.
Did you perhaps have those thoughts? It would be totally understandable if you did.
And that’s why I think it’s worthwhile to learn more about why we need these updates.
Because change can be challenging to contend with at any time. But I find if we understand the bigger picture of what we’re seeking to achieve, and why change is necessary, it can help us navigate it with more motivation and calm. Well, that’s my experience anyway.
So, I wanted to bring Zara in as the first of my interviews, as my conversation with her will provide great context and insight as to why these changes are needed, and the benefit they can provide … not only for our homes, but for us as well.
Zara and I first connected when I joined one of her ‘mini-minds’ as she called it: an online program focussing on Roofs, Walls and Floors and the NCC updates. It was great to hash out things based on our own experiences, and for me to see what was being discussed with other industry professionals as well.
As I said to you in the previous episodes, this is the first time that the ABCB has linked home performance with human health. And it stands to reason: when we spend so much time in our homes, they have to be having an impact on how we feel and function on a daily basis.
And given the amount of money we invest in renovating and building them, wouldn’t it be great to ensure that the impact they have is a beneficial one?
Before I jump into my conversation with Zara, let me introduce her to you.
Zara D’Cotta, Founder of The Healthy Home, Building Biology New Build Consultant, and Keynote Speaker, discovered her passion for environmental health after going through cancer and environmental illness.
Specialising in healthy home design and building materials, Zara empowers home owners and building industry professionals to make informed choices, to ensure the homes they create are not only better for the planet, but their own wellbeing too.
She does this through online programs, presentations, keynote speeches, and consulting services.
Zara is a graduate of the Building Biology Institute in the USA, the only institution globally to offer a certification pathway for Building Biology students wanting to specialise in new builds.
After initially studying healthy home design and building materials in Australia in 2020, she decided to pursue further studies in this specialist field, under the guidance of mentors in the fields of Building Biology, Building Science, Natural Building & Architecture, who have been pioneering the Building Biology (new build) space for 30 years.
Let’s jump into Part 1 of my conversation with Zara.
LISTEN TO THE EPISODE NOW.
Please note, the links to some of these pages may be out of date or superseded as the NCC2022 adoption occurs, or (later) the NCC2022 is superseded by newer legislation.
National Construction Code 2022 >>> https://ncc.abcb.gov.au/editions/ncc-2022
NCC2022 state and territory adoption dates >>> https://abcb.gov.au/ncc-2022-state-and-territory-adoption-dates
NCC 2022 overview of key changes: articles >>> https://ncc.abcb.gov.au/ncc-2022-overview-key-changes-articles
Zara D’Cotta, The Healthy Home
- Website >>> https://www.thehealthyhome.com.au/
- Free download: 5 Pillars of a Healthy Home >>> https://thehealthyhome.ck.page/37c24459f1
- For builders, architects and building designers: The Healthy Building Materials Mastermind >>> https://www.thehealthyhome.com.au/healthy-building-materials-mastermind
What makes a healthy home? (Lean In Session with Australian Institute of Architects) >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YxBblbpIWs
Mould in your home? Here’s what to do (Undercover Architect’s podcast with Alexx Stuart, Low Tox Life) >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/podcast-mould-in-your-home-alexx-stuart-low-tox-life/
Level Up podcast with Duayne Pearce about soil testing >>> https://open.spotify.com/episode/2HScq88QMfMGeQ36I5Wbel
Information about the Mould Index >>> https://research.tuni.fi/buildingphysics/finnish-mould-growth-model/
Access the support and guidance you need to be confident and empowered when renovating and building your family home inside my flagship online program, HOME METHOD >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/courses/the-home-method/
Learn more about how to interview and select the right builder with the Choose Your Builder mini-course >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/courses/choose-your-builder
Access my free online workshop “Your Project Plan” >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/projectplan