Part 1: An introduction
This is the first in a series of planned blog posts in which we hope to explore the topic of healthy homes. In this introduction we define what a healthy home is and explain why self build represents a unique opportunity to build one. Subsequent posts will cover factors that can result in an unhealthy home, how to create a healthy home, our approach to designing and specifying our house type AUXANO as a healthy home, and measures that you can take to improve the home you’re living in right now.
What is a healthy home?
On average we spend about 65% of our time at home and this percentage is likely to grow as working from home (WFM) becomes more common. Many people however are unaware of how their homes affect their health and wellbeing, both positively and negatively. Our physical, mental, and social health and wellbeing are influenced by a combination of behaviour, genetic, and environmental factors and our homes as a significant part of our environment are a key contributor. It is fairly well established that poor quality housing has a direct correlation with poor health and wellbeing and the inverse is just as true. Design and specification features within homes such as effective ventilation and good daylight levels can have hugely positive effects. A healthy home can therefore be defined as “a home that facilitates that good health and wellbeing of its occupants”. The below infographic from a report on HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN HOMES by the UK GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL (UKGBC) describes aspects of a healthy home.
Self build: an opportunity to build better
This blog is about self build, the benefits of self build, and how to self build. With self build you are investing in your own future and that of your family. One of the greatest motivations for building your own home is the opportunity to create a home that meets your needs and those of your loved ones. An understanding therefore that the homes we live in affect our health and wellbeing is not inconsequential. When designing, specifying, constructing, and furnishing a new home, it is important to be aware that the decisions we make; from the sizing and positioning of windows; to the materials we select; and even the things that we put in our homes can all affected the quality of; the air we breathe; the water we drink and bathe in; even how well we sleep and how we feel; and not just for a moment in time but for the duration of our occupation of that home. When we buy food products, we can now carefully read the list of ingredients and make judgements for ourselves with respect to the possible effects on our health, but no such ingredient list is provided when you buy a new home. As we will document in this series of blog posts, wrong ingredients and wrong decisions can be very damaging and ultimately even fatal, and therefore the opportunity to take such decisions into your own hands is huge. Self build is an “opportunity to build better” and not just in terms of spatial qualities and energy performance, but also with respect to the quality of indoor air, water, light, and more. Furthermore, while measures can be taken to mitigate negative health effects of existing properties, with a self build you have the chance to “build healthy” from the start. And we don’t just mean a home that is not unhealthy, for example a home that has low levels of indoor air pollution, but also a home that actually enhances our health and wellbeing. For example, studies have shown that improving air quality can improve productivity, while others have shown that a connection to nature can reduce stress.