The Long-Term Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Climate Change

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Recent events have brought about fundamental shifts and have changed our lives permanently. Although people have been talking about climate change for decades, the changes have seemed to be sluggish and contentious. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit us, it looked as if everything changed instantly, and many of us were left with our jaws hanging agape.

How It All Began

In the year 2019, Wuhan, China served as the epicentre of the most profound transformation that has taken place during my lifetime and that has also had an impact on my contemporaries. However, the far-reaching ramifications of that particular point in time continue to be observed in plenty of other forms that almost all, if not every, single person were not expecting at the period.

Coffs Harbour is located in Australia, approximately halfway between Brisbane and Sydney. It is on the equator and boasts one of the finest year-round climates in the world. When my family and I arrived here, I could rent a four-bedroom house for approximately $400 per week, so at that time it was cheaper to purchase a property than to rent. That was only a short six years ago.

Because of the problems with Covid-19 in cities and the isolating effect of populations, a lot of people migrated out of the city in pursuit of some place better where isolation meant you can still walk down to the beach and enjoy the moment, if only with your family, instead of being locked in your house with rules about the distance or for the length of time you were authorized to be outdoors, and working online became the standard for pretty much everyone.

The Pandemic Creates Housing Crisis

Since the pandemic, the cost of homes in our modest neighbourhood have more than doubled. People relocating from cities, as well as other factors, pushed up housing prices, meaning people were compelled to continue renting since the cost of purchasing a property was too high; however, the population numbers in regional areas continued to grow, outweighing the numbers of affordable housing to the ever-increasing population.

The cost of building materials went through the roof, and rents began to increase by $100 at a time. What used to cost $450 per week in rent is now more than $750 per week. Due to the fact that hundreds of people submitted applications for rental houses, unhappy single parent income/parent families were placed at the bottom of the pile, and homelessness was a real thing for the gainfully employed.

Was the outcome of this foreseeable? Yes, this was something that might have been anticipated, and it got me wondering about other problems that we are beginning to see, although perhaps not all of us are aware of them.

What kind of effects does Climate Change have on our places of residence, and by extension, our finances?

Our business, Remedial Membranes, fixes leaking balconies and bathrooms by coating tiled surfaces with a clear waterproofing membrane. Being part of the waterproofing industry, I felt it was important for people to be aware of the transformations that are taking place as a direct consequence of global warming.  So, they may respond accordingly and ensure that these changes do not result in an unsustainable rise in construction material costs.

A Rise in the Frequency of Severe Weather Occurrences Due to Climate Change

A year ago, the area where I live was hit by a crazy hailstorm. My husband and I were relaxing in our front room looking out our large glass windows, and we were in awe. And we were worried that these massive hailstones that were smashing against anything in their path, were going to crash through our windows and enter our home! Thankfully, this didn’t happen to us, but many others weren’t so lucky.

The damage that had been caused cost many millions of dollars to repair. Hail had penetrated through metal, glass, and roof tiles equally, giving the appearance that homes had been turned into firing ranges, even the local shopping centre could not withstand the storm. The combination of the hail and the cyclone-like winds, contributed to the widespread destruction that had been caused.

Ever since then, we have been experiencing consistently rainy weather. We had planted a large vegetable garden, but unfortunately, this all perished due to the La Niña, an unusually wet weather pattern. On the opposite side of the world, in Europe, people are experiencing the greatest drought on record, to the extent that juvenile salmon in certain regions of Canada were unable to make it through this year. How does any of this relate to the home that you own, you may ask?

I can hear you asking. The influence that the weather has on our dwellings shifts as well as the weather changes? Well, what is it that truly holds your home up? You got it right, it’s your foundation, and what helps keep your foundations strong? The earth it’s built upon! When there is an extended period of continuous rain, the water eventually starts to sink deeper and further into the ground, which eventually loosens the soil around your foundations,  and your foundations are heavy. Heavy homes sitting on soft earth can lead to movement.

However, what is genuinely worse compared to this is when these wet periods are followed by lengthy stretches of dry weather. During these periods the ground becomes so dry, it starts to crack.  You will notice that the buildings’ foundations will start moving along with this as well, and you may see movement cracks appear in parts of your house. What kind of effects can shifting earth have on homes? The movement stress creates cracks, which lets water in and causes water damage; this destroys building materials, which are expensive to fix; however, the true cost is on the health of the residents, which includes stress and mould concerns due to the moisture in the air.

Hence, you are correct that many wood houses will allow for a limited amount of movement without causing any problems as a result of the manner in which they are constructed. The impact on these surfaces is seen in the rigid surfaces that are placed on the top of the wooden construction. At the present, we are receiving numerous requests from builders who want assistance in repairing leaky wet sections that they have constructed to standard but which started leaking. This includes both balconies and showers.

The weather induced movements we currently experience are beyond the boundaries of what was anticipated. In the Australian Standards, which describe the construction industry, builders are experiencing difficulties with water issues that they have never seen before. These are concerns we can assist with utilizing the Clear Over Tile Waterproofing Membrane.

How Does Clear Waterproofing Membrane Work?

Because the membrane is installed on top of the tiles, the tiles do not need to be removed in order for you to be able to waterproof your balconies and showers. 

We have had clients come to us six months after their balcony had been ripped up and redone the second time in the preceding 18 months. When waterproofing membranes are put underneath the tiles and movement happens, there is no access to fix the failure. When Clear Waterproofing Membranes  are painted over the top of tiles and problems due to excessive movement arise, it is simple to recognise. The membrane becomes white and can be quickly scraped off and patch mended as the membrane will self adhere.

The Clear Waterproofing Membrane was introduced to the market in 2015 and has a product warranty that is valid for ten years. We will need to start thinking differently about the care and repair of buildings if we are to remain successful as homeowners and as members of the construction sector. It is a short-sighted strategy to continue developing as we did twenty years ago, rather than preparing for a future in which our structures might be readily influenced by these extreme weather occurrences.

Consider the weather patterns that have prevailed in your area during the last two to three years. If these extreme weather events persist and become the norm, insurance companies will fail, and your homes will be ruined and in critical need of upkeep if you do not take preventative measures. Will you still be pleased with the method of building that you choose to use?