The materials used in home building are under the microscope following a huge storm in Calgary over the weekend.
Many of the homes that suffered the worst damage are covered in vinyl siding, raising questions about whether that is the best material to weather violent storms.
But Bild, the largest home builders’ association in Canada, told Global News it isn’t fair to put all of the blame on that type of siding.
“Every material that was out there was overwhelmed by the intensity of the storm,” Bild Calgary Region CEO Brian Hahn said.
Hahn said everyone was shocked by the power of the storm and many materials didn’t weather well — not just materials used in home building.
“You could extend your argument to vehicles right? There are a whole bunch of vehicles that are damaged, windows smashed,” Hahn added. “So do we now need to go back and look at the kind of materials that the vehicles are made of as well?”
Bild told Global News vinyl siding often holds up very well and the overall experience with the product is a good one.
Vinyl siding is often the choice made by many homeowners and builders because it comes in a variety of colours and styles. It is also low maintenance and low cost, which Hahn said are very attractive features.
Those who choose to upgrade to other materials, including stucco, have to weigh the benefits versus the added expense.
“Others, who prefer other types of siding, often there can be a trade-off in some of the products that are available.”
Building material testing and certification
All of the materials that are used in homes are tested and certified as part of a building code process as part of the National Building Code of Canada.
“They would test it for an array of environmental conditions and how it performs against those conditions,” Hahn added.
It’s that code provincial officials also said the government follows. When asked if any changes to building practices are in the works in light of the recent storm and subsequent damage, officials from the ministry of Municipal Affairs told Global News:
“Homeowners have a choice from a range of different cladding options, including vinyl siding under the National Building Code. Alberta and all other provinces and territories adopt the code. We defer to the Standards Council of Canada on the use of this siding.”
What’s ahead for building materials
Bild told Global News that doesn’t mean the industry isn’t looking at new ways to improve materials and the building process.
“Like any industry, the home-building industry and the construction industry are always on the path of continuous improvement,” Hahn said.
“Doing their best to drive the cost of materials and products and construction down to a more competitive product.”
But he added right now the materials that they have are what they have to work with.
Calgary city councillor George Chahal has said he would like to meet with industry leaders to look at how homes in Calgary are currently built and if different building material should be used to prevent damage like what happened on Saturday from happening again.