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Old 05-22-2012, 10:17 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jomama45 View Post
I certainly don't live in Beverly Hill's, but the vast majority of homes we work on are "life homes", rather than starter homes. It's not uncommon for the hones we work on to end up in the $250-$350 per sq. foot range. I'm not saying that junk isn't built as well, just that quality certainly still exists....... Probably some of the worst quality homes I've worked on and repaired in my experience are those from the post-war boom, late 40's to mid 50's.......
Kind of seems like the old Supply & Demand thing takes over at times. When there's a huge demand, and very limited supply, people can get by with building crap.

What's sad to me is that we now have the technology to build spectacularly high-quality, extremely efficient homes, but that's not always what gets built.

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Old 05-22-2012, 10:58 PM   #17
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What's sad to me is that we now have the technology to build spectacularly high-quality, extremely efficient homes, but that's not always what gets built.
Prefab for example is something that architect friends in Europe who design very high end places take for granted. We still build, for the most part, from piles of sticks in stones dumped on a lot. We could do so much to improve the quality and life of new construction if we would embrace prefab. And look at a book like "Prefabulous..." to see prefab does not have to be boxy looking with no character.



And the idea it would people out of work is absurd. Tradespeople would have to hone skills but with less time and money spent putting the structure together and roofing it funds could be diverted to making the interior finishing spectacular.

I'm done and out of the game but for doing estimates for friends at times. I remain pleased I got to work on some really old treasures.

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Old 05-22-2012, 11:08 PM   #18
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Coming from New England, we have old houses that are in great shape for a 200+ year old. We also have some that I think I need a tetanus shot to walk into. I worked on one built in 1691 and it was still in good shape. Same for new houses. Some are good, some are bare minimum construction. I think what is needed is a combination of old fashioned quality putting new technology to proper use. Case in point, I have roofed many houses, (before ice and water shield), and even paper was not required, and never had a leak. Now I see people covering the entire roof in ice and water shield, and still have a leak. You have to know what to look for in any house. Some things are important, others not so much.
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Old 05-22-2012, 11:18 PM   #19
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Some might find this study summary on the life expectancy of home materials to be interesting?

http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_detai...ontentID=99359
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:32 AM   #20
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Turned out the worst home was the 2005.
I agree, a large part of our work involves homes less than 15 years old; last one was a 2004 build that needed new siding, new roof and a rebuild of the roof structure in order to get rid of a lot of internal box gutters that were proving to be a constant headache for the owners. The home supposedly also has major foundation issues; the original engineer and the council have been taken to court by the owners; the house may yet end up being demolished because its lower floor walls are built of polystyrene blocks filled with concrete so it can't be moved/lifted to build new foundations under... this is a multi-million dollar home surrounded by several other multi million dollar homes... all of which I am sure are going to need hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on them within the next few years! All this because of products like EIFS, Harditex and two-coat solid plaster with silicone instead of proper flashings, combined with pine framing from trees that have been genetically engineered to grow as fast as possible, so the wood is very soft and weak compared to the old growth timber used years ago; from about 1991 to 2005, all that framing had no treatment against insects or decay so all the outside wall framing has to get replaced in many cases!
I could go on and on about this; suffice to say that I own a 1930's bungalow, at least that won't need such extensive work within my lifetime. Here's some pics of the sort of thing I mean...
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Old 05-28-2012, 12:24 PM   #21
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In another, younger lifetime, I spent some summers framing homes (and a few other trades...) back in the 90's. We were building whole subdivisions of upper end homes in Colorado. I knew I was not a master carpenter by any means (or any other trade.) However, some of the things I saw "Pro's" do in the name of getting the job done and moving on made me cringe. The one guy I worked for who always did quality work ultimately had to let me go because his business was not able to be competitive with the faster crews.
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:27 PM   #22
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i dont understand what people are saying when they say "they dont build them like they use to" every old home i've ever been in is always out of level and out of square. has home made roofs not trusses, crappy old lath and plaster walls, crappy wool insulation if they even have any at all. old windows that are a major heat loss. old crappy basements with really low ceilings. the list goes on and on. new homes are built with trusses and they may not have true 2x4s but the homes are designed to take 40% more snow loads then the most snow in the past 100years. we have plywood and drywall! windows and insulation making good sealed homes. we have basements with stronger concrete and tall basements walls with full large windows. and the list goes on. i dont understand they anyone would even want an old home other then for the style and gut the thing to the studs and redo it. can someone enlighten me?
I will tell you what I had a home built with Old growth timbers and lumber! 2x16 Doug fir larch can't find that any more 6x 12 solid Doug fir larch with such tight grain, 2x6 tongue and groove cedar car decking ceilings try and find that today! now you have press board sheathing that if it gets wet puffs up. engineered I joists. Even though I use them Are not as good as the Old growth lumber we used to get. I think that is what we talk about. Now also there is the blow and go contractors that don't give a flying fig newton if the home they are building lasts past the final inspection and then there are those that build it like it was for themselves. I think you find that in every generation.
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Old 05-29-2012, 05:42 AM   #23
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Around half of my total business, by dollar volume, consists of inspection and consulting services related to construction defects in property less than 15 years old, the other half consists of general "home inspection services" performed on buildings constructed over the last 140 years.

Almost without exception, if you know how where and how to look, there are defects - often serious defects - in design or construction which are reducing the operating life of the structures, or causing the structures themselves or their internal systems to perform improperly. irrespective of construction age.

In large part this is a result of the fact that much of the residential housing in the US is still "hand built".

Even when the construction is somewhat automated and the construction steps are highly repetitious (for example, in a high-rise condominium), the fact that many different trades are involved in finishing out the structure, and that it is often impossible to perfectly sequence the various steps of completing the project, pretty much guarantees that mistakes will be made, especially where there is a potential or actual overlap of responsibility between trades in completing a given step of the project.

It is often also the case that properties are not built "per plan"; the architect or engineer may specify a given material or construction technique, but even if the general contractor is make a good-faith attempt to build per plan (not always the case, especially during the recent building boom, when there was intense pressure to finish projects as quickly as possible) it is almost impossible to provide the level of supervision required to ensure that individual subcontractors or individual tradespeople are not cutting corners, or just doing things in some other manner manner they believe is correct, or just in the way they "have always done it".

The big catch here, as regards construction over the last decade or two, is that a number of new materials and techniques have introduced to residential construction practice, and that for some of these techniques to work properly, very careful attention to detail is required.

The most dramatic example of this was introduction of EIFS cladding over conventional wood frame construction.

In theory, EIFS installed in this manner *could* have been made to work if it had been installed by well-educated tradespeople with fanatic attention to detail, and if this knowledge and care had been present at every every subsequent modification to the cladding system.

In reality the tradespeople performing the work were often result improperly trained, and even if they *had* known exactly what was required, very* careful attention to detail - a practice very difficult to maintain in a production environment - would've been required to produce satisfactory results.

The result of this conflict between the theoretical perfection demanded by the developers of the system and the reality of residential construction are well known, for example just do a search for "EIFS problems"

While EIFS is the most prominent example, in my water intrusion inspection business I encounter the same handful of similar problems over and over: incorrect capstone flashings, incorrect flashings of wall penetrations, inappropriate use of materials such as split faced block, incorrect detailing exterior walls... every one of these defects is often addressed by manufacturers, engineers or architects in theory, only to have their efforts subverted by actual practice.

Older buildings of course present their own challenges, but to say that actual modern construction practice *as built* generally produces "better"results is to overlook the challenges presented by careless specification and installation of modern materials and building systems.
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Old 05-29-2012, 05:50 AM   #24
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i dont understand what people are saying when they say "they dont build them like they use to" every old home i've ever been in is always out of level and out of square.
Not all old houses. And this isn't something that really comes into play in most situations unless you are remodling. It's not like people go around saying "I hate my bedroom door jam, it's not level!!!"

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has home made roofs not trusses,
Why would one want a truss except for the lower cost? I hate that my house has trusses, they take up valuable attic space and they are not rated to be walked on when work needs to be done up there. There are other disadvantages as well. I would much rather have an open attic with dimension lumber for my roof rafters, but it would require expensive 2X12's and the trusses were much cheaper.

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crappy old lath and plaster walls,
That depends on the age and the quality of work. I'll take a nicely plastered wall over drywall any day.

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old windows that are a major heat loss.
That's a normal part of owning a house, windows need replacing, just like your roof.
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old crappy basements with really low ceilings.
My ceiling is as high as any new house. You get what you pay for, both in old and new houses.

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can someone enlighten me?
Your list seems to be just about YOUR house. Not all new houses are built that way (such as high basements with full size windows) and a lot of what you said just isn't accurate.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:16 PM   #25
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my house?? the original section section was built in 1954 and one addition put on 7 years ago and the second addition put on 5 years ago. more then half of my home is under 7years old. i purchased the house 2 years ago. the house has new roof, windows, and siding. the interior is probably about 80% remodelled. the old section was the worst being out of square over an inch and floor out of level. my house is perfectly fine and im not complaining about my own home. im complaining about all the old crap homes i go in everyday at work. it seems like every home 20years or older are just nightmares! they seem to be problematic they all seem to be a can of worms.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:19 PM   #26
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im complaining about all the old crap homes i go in everyday at work. it seems like every home 20years or older are just nightmares! they seem to be problematic they all seem to be a can of worms.
Well, as I said, apparently the homes in your area are different. I'll take an old house over a new one any day.

And poorly built houses are money makers for people in the trade. You should love them.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:48 PM   #27
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Why would one want a truss except for the lower cost? I hate that my house has trusses, they take up valuable attic space and they are not rated to be walked on when work needs to be done up there. There are other disadvantages as well. I would much rather have an open attic with dimension lumber for my roof rafters, but it would require expensive 2X12's and the trusses were much cheaper.
Have to disagree with you here. Why would you want trusses? For starters, no interior load-bearing walls. I think you made too big of an assumption on the attic space and walking on the roof issues, because trusses can be, and many are, designed with large, open attics, and plenty strong enough to be walked on. Maybe you're referring to ceiling joist vs truss system and not roof trusses? Well, I'd have to say same theory applies. There are too many different options in truss systems to make such a blanket statement. Maybe your builder simply didn't choose to use a very robust truss system, but it doesn't mean they don't exist.

However, this goes same for to topic of newer vs older houses in general. Some older houses are incredibly built, some not so much; same for newer. Technology has made it so we can do more with less these days, but obviously that doesn't always equal better.

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Old 06-04-2012, 11:44 AM   #28
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I do not like saying this one bit... but in today's world the trades are chock full of hacks who don't or can't do decent quality work for a decent price. Hell I can't even get anyone to do a decent job mowing my lawn!!! So what we have are the few who are willing to do quality work (there ARE some but not many) get to overcharge for their work. What options are you left with? DIY..... No one...and I mean no one .....will do as good a job on ANYTHING to do with my house as I will. The things I like about DIY are....I always show up when I tell myself I will, I charge myself a fair price, I do it right the first time, I stand behind my work, I don't BS myself...and on and on.

There are hack homebuilders at EVERY price range today.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:57 PM   #29
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...I charge myself a fair price, I do it right the first time...
i often find that i undercharge for my DIY time...but i don't always get it right the first time, so maybe it all evens out?
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:50 AM   #30
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My house if from 1930 with an addition from sometime in the 50's. Both pieces are solid with walls built out of rock-hard lumber, but I definitely prefer the older section. Walls are thick heavy plaster vs. 3/8" drywall in the addition (I replaced most of it) and even the electric (the parts I haven't replaced) is done better.

Compare that to my buddys house from the late 90's........ His deck is sinking, whoever built the house didn't find it necessary to pave the last 1' of driveway, leaving a "dirt trail" before getting to his garage, and his whole place just flooded because one of the "builder-grade" toilet shutoff valves (made mostly of plastic by the way) exploded in the middle of the night.

Of course there are other things I would prefer be "new style" like the cast-iron stack which I will have to replace at some point ..... would I rather have a newer pvc one ..... why - yes.

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