I am not a building science or construction professional. I am someone who learned from my own personal mold nightmare as well as intense self-directed research and study. I am a former middle school Spanish teacher who got very sick from Lyme disease, then moved to a house with a hidden mold problem.
When I worry, I research. And, when I research, I like to get to the root of a problem. So, after I found the mold, I wanted to know what caused it so we could prevent it from ever happening again. I spent the next five months researching everything building-science related: ventilation, stack effect, vapor drive, the psychometric chart, rain screens, hygrothermal performance, building material performance, Maine building codes, and so on. I met with over 40 “contractors”, 5 mold inspection companies, 1 air quality inspector, numerous energy auditors, and 1 forensic engineer. In the end, our house had such systemic construction defects that it would need to be torn down completely to the studs (possibly to the foundation) and rebuilt. We could not afford to double our mortgage, so we filed bankruptcy and surrendered the house and left all of our belongings.
We then began plans to build. I joined a local, in-person, building science discussion group (for builders, engineers, energy professionals, etc.) to learn more about building options. I attended a Passive House conference and discussions and talked with several Passive House architects, asking them many questions about the building envelope and moisture control. I visited a panelized Passive House warehouse and factory to see how the walls were made. I worked closely with the president of a concrete block company who is making 16″ insulated blocks for building resilient housing. We got very far with our building plans, but due to personal reasons, we decided not to build and sold our land. But I learned a lot from the process.
Throughout this time, I have also helped people that my doctor has sent to me through the scary process of finding mold and creating a plan of action. I want to continue helping people by making building science more understandable and mainstream.
Building Literate goals:
1. Bridge the “awareness” gap between the world of building-literate professionals and people who are searching for solutions to their housing dilemmas;
2. Empower future and current home owners with information and data in order to make educated decisions;
3. Provide marketing strategies for building-literate home performance and construction professionals;
4. Aggregate and promote existing building-literate educational resources;
5. Work towards making “building literacy” more mainstream, with the aim of including other professions and disciplines.