Just say no to mould

Japan's Hry-ji Buddhist temple has stood for more than 14 centuries, placing it among the world's oldest wooden buildings. When Yukoners build wood buildings, sometimes they don't last longer than 14 years. Built notorious

Japan’s Hry-ji Buddhist temple has stood for more than 14 centuries, placing it among the world’s oldest wooden buildings.

When Yukoners build wood buildings, sometimes they don’t last longer than 14 years.

Built notoriously leaky, Yukon homes can quickly become moisture ridden mould cultures – rendering them structurally unsound health hazards within decades.

“Mould is the first process in the destruction of a house,” said Juergen Korn, research and development project manager for the Yukon Housing Corporation.

No more, say new Whitehorse building codes.

All new Whitehorse homes will now have to submit to air-tightness tests to ensure “tight building envelopes.”

“You can put in lots of insulation, but if you build it leaky, you lose control of the energy,” said Korn.

A leaky building envelope also means that warm moist air is allowed to drift into cracks and crevices, where it cools off and turns into water.

When summer comes, the house’s waterlogged walls and ceilings become time bombs for mould growth.

“Over 50 per cent of houses in the country have moisture problems,” said Korn.

“I would suggest that, in the North, it’s higher,” he said.

Every year, Yukon Housing spends “millions” fixing the territory’s moisture damaged homes.

Starting in July, higher insulation standards will also govern construction of new Whitehorse homes – bringing all home construction up to “green” standards.

Walls, ceilings, floors and even crawlspaces will be held to a higher insulation standard.

“The basement accounts for 20 to 30 per cent of heat loss, but it’s a place where we insulate the least,” said Korn.

Green standards mean a more expensive home – but less heating oil means immediate savings.

“Right from day one, you’re saving money,” said Korn.

“The cost of the additional mortgage is less than the energy savings that you achieve,” he said.

Higher housing costs imposed by green standards may still be prohibitive for lower-income buyers, said one contractor at a public meeting with city officials.

The territory can’t afford to keep putting people in inefficient homes vulnerable to the price of oil, said Allyn Lyon, director of community and industry partnering for Yukon Housing.

“People are beginning to lose their houses because they can’t afford to make the mortgage payment and pay for the heating,” said Lyon.

Already, he’s seen cash-strapped homeowners forced to run up credit-card debt just to cover their heating bills.

“We don’t do anybody a favour by putting people in a house that they can’t afford to live in,” said Lyon.

Contractors have favoured the new regulations almost unanimously.

The standards “level the playing field,” for contractors specialized in energy efficient construction.

“‘The contractor down the block can build the same model as I build – and build it poorly – and charge $5,000 less, and the average consumer will buy that instead of mine, which is better,’” said Lyon, echoing the comments of efficiency-conscious contractors.

Super Green standards – which offer twice the degree of insulation than green standards – are currently in use by Yukon Housing Corporation, but have yet to become mandatory under local buildings codes.

Mandatory Super Green standards mandatory would save Yukon homebuyers even more money than green standards, but it’s going to take a bit longer for people to “get their head around it,” said Korn.

Contact Tristin Hopper at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read