Good building practice guidelines for healthy and sustainable First Nations housing in Canada
The current state of First Nations housing in Canada is, in general, considered to be in poor condition, with a high portion of homes in need of major repairs. First Nations communities are facing inadequate and overcrowded living conditions which have been associated with increased health risks. Currently, there are no standardized methods, or accepted protocols for completing housing condition assessments in First Nations communities. Understanding the specific housing conditions and the associated health and safety risks is essential to developing effective strategies to improve the health, safety, durability and sustainability of the housing stock. In this thesis, a process for assessing housing conditions in a First Nations community is presented. Using a case study method, which includes on-site building condition assessments, inspections for visible mould, and mould air sampling of 159 homes at Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation in Southern Manitoba, as well as an occupant survey of 133 heads of household, 72 common housing deficiencies were identified and linked to 12 health and safety hazards that are associated with each of these deficiencies. This research study, which led to the development of a Good Building Practice (GBP) guide, fills a critical void in the current research by providing a link between specific housing conditions and deficiencies present. Understanding how housing conditions affect the health and safety of the occupants can be a powerful tool for determining which housing repairs are critical and for establishing a timeframe for the implementation of repairs and upgrades. The significance of this study is that it provides First Nations housing authorities with a tool to identify housing deficiencies that are common in their communities, allowing these authorities to allocate appropriate funding to address the most critical safety items first, and plan capital funding to schedule less urgent repairs. The GBP guidelines provide general recommendations for remediating each deficiency using specific objective-based goals including improved health, safety, durability, and functionality. These guidelines can also be used by housing designers as a tool to better understand some of the unique conditions and deficiencies present in First Nations housing so that they can proactively design systems that will address these common deficiencies before they occur.