U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Florida > Jacksonville
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 07-11-2010, 10:11 PM
 
29 posts, read 45,548 times
Reputation: 11

Advertisements

I thought about the idea of bouncing between JAX and Orlando airports. I do love the area. I'm also going to do some research on concrete block construction. So many decisions to make.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 07-12-2010, 05:04 PM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,635 posts, read 17,146,073 times
Reputation: 6685
The concrete decision is an easy one IMO. I think the most important issue is termites. Your house may never be hit by a hurricance - but Florida is the second worse state in the country when it comes to termites (Hawaii is first). And I don't think termites are going away anytime soon. To make a long story short - the most common (and very effective) chemical used to treat new homes for termites - Chlordane - was banned by the EPA in 1988. And since then - problems with termite damage in frame construction have increased dramatically. You can find lots of links discussing the problem:

Researchers Aim To Keep Termites From Gorging On Florida Homes

http://www.magnoliahomesflorida.com/...creteblock.pdf

Our block of about 30 homes has 5 block houses. Of the remaining frame houses - I'd say about 2/3 have had major termite damage since they were built 15 years ago (you can tell when there's damage because of the repair work that has to be done). Note that brokers and sellers aren't exactly forthcoming about termite damage in existing houses (even though they have a legal obligation to disclose). And buyers are usually unwilling to sue when they buy a house with termite problems because then they will have a "black mark" on their house when they try to resell it.

This isn't anything I haven't said before. However many people here want to buy an existing house - not build. Or they have their hearts set on a particular community where there are only frame houses. But if you want to build - and are willing to consider various locations and builders - I strongly recommend block construction. Note that when we built our house - we also put in metal studs (except on walls like those in the kitchen that had to support heavy cabinets). And - as the second link above points out - block construction doesn't mean you'll never get termites because it's impossible to build a house totally without wood - and termites are happy eating things like baseboards and drywall and burrowing through insulation. Just means you'll have fewer problems - and it will take longer for you to get them (if you've been in south Florida - you'll see that older block houses are tented from time to time for bug treatment once they're 30 years old or so).

Note that CBS construction with aluminum windows is also good when it comes to dealing with/avoiding rot. A neat thing our builder did to avoid rot in a common rot area - the shower - was to pour the slab with indendations where the showers were. To avoid having to build up the shower threshold (which is usually done with wood). IOW - you step down a couple of inches into the showers. FWIW - we rented a brand new house for 18 months when we first moved here. The shower threshold in the master bath rotted out in less than a year.

I also believe that CBS construction is superior when it comes to storms (although whether you get hit by one is kind of "the luck of the draw"). But there are several additional things you can do to "harden" a house if you plan to build one. First - use a hip roof design - 100% if possible - no gables. Wind will push against a gable - flow around a hip. Keep your roof angle as low as possible considering any HOA restrictions (we wanted to do 6/12 in our house - our HOA wanted 8/12 - and we settled on 7/12). Use Dade County approved impact windows - doors - garage doors - etc. Aluminum - not wood. Make sure the doors all open out - not in (it's hard to blow in a door that opens "out"). Be aware of your property elevation - don't build slab on grade anywhere - and build up the slab as high as is reasonable and practical considering the area where you're building.

Don't know what your price range is in terms of your house - but we paid about $100/sf for this type of construction in 1995 (with kind of medium allowances for some finish work - but excluding some major items like kitchen cabinets - floor coverings - etc.). If you're going to nickel and dime a builder - do it on the sometimes outrageous markups they charge for finish items. There were custom builders when we built who would charge 100% full list price plus 25% for a toilet! - when any normal person could walk into a plumbing store and buy for 40% off list. The way we dealt with our builder was simple. We asked him what the basic house would cost built right - what the allowances were for finish items - and what he wanted to make as a profit. That was our contract price. Then we agreed that if we shopped for finish items ourselves - and could get higher quality - or lower prices - or both - we'd simply get a credit against the allowances - or pay extra. It was a good deal for him (he specialized in "sturdy" - didn't know much about higher end finish work - and didn't want to spend his time looking at sinks). And a good deal for us (because I enjoy shopping for finish items and knew more about them than he did). We actually sub'd out a lot of finish work - like kitchen cabinets - to third parties.

Anyway - I think if I did it all over again - I'd do some things differently - but not many. And we're very happy with our house (this was our first). A note of caution however. If you're a "road warrior" - I hope your wife enjoys doing this kind of stuff. Building a house from scratch takes a lot of time and work - and - especially - interest. It's not something my husband and I could have done when we were both working full-time (which is why we lived in high rise condos in south Florida).

Have you read all the stuff about CDDs in St. Johns County and their fees yet (there are a couple of existing pretty recent threads)? FWIW - I always suggest to people that if they're moving here and don't know much about the area - that they rent for at least 6 months to get a feel for things. Robyn
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-12-2010, 05:14 PM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,635 posts, read 17,146,073 times
Reputation: 6685
P.S. The house eventually cost us about $150/sf including landscaping (not including lot). But I am a sucker for things like German kitchen cabinets (which cost a lot). My brother is doing a lot of work on his house in Miami Beach now - getting it ready to sell. And we both agree that if you're not going to spend $30-50k on kitchen cabinets (which he isn't going to do) - that Ikea is probably your best bet - at about 1/5 the cost - assuming you like contemporary furnishings. Robyn
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-12-2010, 09:09 PM
 
377 posts, read 1,505,825 times
Reputation: 196
Robyn,

Instead of trying to scare off people purchasing a wood frame house, you really should explain why all of the wood frame houses on your street got termites... and maybe also explain how a newer wood frame house doesn't have the same problems. This would help people understand the issues from 15 years ago.

Also, in concrete block, there is still tons of wood. All of the interior walls, the furring strips on the block walls and the roof trusses are made out of wood. Plus termites love to enter in the bathroom and kitchen areas where the pipes go through the concrete floor because these areas are not 100% sealed and are sometimes wet due to leaks, so concrete block exterior walls are not going to be a barrier.

Also, with concrete block, there are holes in the middle of each block and the builders don't fill each hole with concrete, so there are a lot of "hollow" blocks. Personally, I don't think I'd spend extra money for a concrete block home.... but if I was going to spend extra money, I'd get poured concrete walls.

Robyn - your home was either a semi-custom or custom built home. Most builders that are building in a neighborhood won't mess around with metal studs or price options the way your builder did. If you want to compare a semi-custom concrete block to a semi-custom wood frame home, there are a lot of products in the market today that makes both of them comparable for protection against storms and termites.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-13-2010, 07:42 AM
 
29 posts, read 45,548 times
Reputation: 11
When I was spending time in Durbin Crossing I did get the sense that there were a lot of bug issues as I saw pest control specialists everywhere. I think that no matter where you move, there is an issue or two with pests. Here in Illinois, we deal with asian beetles, japanese beetles, and mice - while none of those eat away at your home, they are issues all the same.

I'm not thrilled about the CDD fees - that's just one more monthly obligation. But on the flip side, to have nice amenities within walking distance that I don't have to manage is appealing.

My main concern right now is the money that Providence asks for up front. While I understand their thinking, I'd like to think the home could then be in my name in the event of a financial downfall on their part. I've looked at Holder Johnson online. They seem to build a decent home.

I've also been looking at the Tampa airport to see if they have more nonstops - the next challenge it appears is that the housing in that area (including the Sarasota/Bradenton area) is that the cost per square foot is a great deal more. I'm looking at homes around 350,000-450,000 - you lose a lot of square feet in that range when you move to Tampa. And also, while I don't have the facts on this, I've heard that taxes and insurance are much higher in that area.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-13-2010, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,635 posts, read 17,146,073 times
Reputation: 6685
In addition to the mortgage foreclosure in Clay County that I linked above - I ran across this notice of sale of tax certificates on property owned by Providence in Durbin Crossing:

http://multimedia.staugustine.com/pd...mbined_Web.pdf

I wouldn't give any money to this builder without advice from a competent real estate attorney who can go through all of the records. Note that I am a member of the Florida Bar - but I am retired - and never specialized in real estate. All I know is there are enough red flags here to warrant further investigation. Robyn
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-13-2010, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,635 posts, read 17,146,073 times
Reputation: 6685
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevep View Post
Robyn,

Instead of trying to scare off people purchasing a wood frame house, you really should explain why all of the wood frame houses on your street got termites... and maybe also explain how a newer wood frame house doesn't have the same problems. This would help people understand the issues from 15 years ago.

Also, in concrete block, there is still tons of wood. All of the interior walls, the furring strips on the block walls and the roof trusses are made out of wood. Plus termites love to enter in the bathroom and kitchen areas where the pipes go through the concrete floor because these areas are not 100% sealed and are sometimes wet due to leaks, so concrete block exterior walls are not going to be a barrier.

Also, with concrete block, there are holes in the middle of each block and the builders don't fill each hole with concrete, so there are a lot of "hollow" blocks. Personally, I don't think I'd spend extra money for a concrete block home.... but if I was going to spend extra money, I'd get poured concrete walls.

Robyn - your home was either a semi-custom or custom built home. Most builders that are building in a neighborhood won't mess around with metal studs or price options the way your builder did. If you want to compare a semi-custom concrete block to a semi-custom wood frame home, there are a lot of products in the market today that makes both of them comparable for protection against storms and termites.

The only major termite change in the St. Johns County building code that I know about is the one that disallowed putting things like wood and foam "do-dads" into the ground (they allowed termites to enter homes unnoticed). This change went into effect in 1995 or so - about when many houses on our block were being built. Our house was built under the new code - but some of the houses might have been built under the old code. What other changes are you talking about?


I don't have any problems with poured concrete - but I'd have to do more research about ICF construction (common poured concrete construction technique) to embrace it 100%. Specifically whether the foam provides a way for termites to enter a building. ICF construction was uncommon/didn't exist when we built - so it wasn't an issue we explored.

I never said CBS was perfect (specifically said otherwise above). But the less you give termites to eat - the fewer problems you'll have with them. When we built - CBS cost about 5% more than frame for the basic structure. Don't know what the price difference is today. CBS might even be cheaper than frame today due to tougher wind requirements under the new state building code (there are some low end builders here that are using CBS).

Our house was a custom non-spec house - albeit a small one (less than 3000 sf under A/C). Apart from some higher end finish work - it wound up costing us about what a typical spec house cost at the time. Robyn
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-13-2010, 10:03 AM
 
615 posts, read 1,430,644 times
Reputation: 180
All I can offer is that when we looked at Providence Homes in DC, they seemed pretty desperate. One home they showed us had been sitting there for over a year, and they offered to make all sorts of pretty major changes to the house if we would buy it (like remodel the master bath and closet to add a tub).

I had heard they had or were about to file bankruptcy, but when we asked about it, they claimed they were one of the top 2 builders around. I don't think any of the builders around here are exactly doing well, but some seemed a lot more desperate than others. I'm all about making the buyer happy, but a lot of them offered things that seemed too good to be true and honestly, that concerned us.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-13-2010, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,635 posts, read 17,146,073 times
Reputation: 6685
Quote:
Originally Posted by movingnearthebeach View Post
When I was spending time in Durbin Crossing I did get the sense that there were a lot of bug issues as I saw pest control specialists everywhere. I think that no matter where you move, there is an issue or two with pests. Here in Illinois, we deal with asian beetles, japanese beetles, and mice - while none of those eat away at your home, they are issues all the same.

I'm not thrilled about the CDD fees - that's just one more monthly obligation. But on the flip side, to have nice amenities within walking distance that I don't have to manage is appealing.

My main concern right now is the money that Providence asks for up front. While I understand their thinking, I'd like to think the home could then be in my name in the event of a financial downfall on their part. I've looked at Holder Johnson online. They seem to build a decent home.

I've also been looking at the Tampa airport to see if they have more nonstops - the next challenge it appears is that the housing in that area (including the Sarasota/Bradenton area) is that the cost per square foot is a great deal more. I'm looking at homes around 350,000-450,000 - you lose a lot of square feet in that range when you move to Tampa. And also, while I don't have the facts on this, I've heard that taxes and insurance are much higher in that area.
This time of year you're probably seeing a lot of companies that deal with lawn/landscaping pest control as opposed to termite problems (termites swarm in the spring - and that's high season for the firms that deal with termites).

The Tampa airport is busier than JAX - and Tampa is closer to MCO than the Jax metro area. It is in general a more expensive area. I prefer the east coast of Florida to the west coast because it's a bit cooler in the summer. Robyn
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-13-2010, 08:20 PM
 
377 posts, read 1,505,825 times
Reputation: 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robyn55 View Post
[color=black][font=Verdana]The only major termite change in the St. Johns County building code that I know about is the one that disallowed putting things like wood and foam "do-dads" into the ground (they allowed termites to enter homes unnoticed). This change went into effect in 1995 or so - about when many houses on our block were being built. Our house was built under the new code - but some of the houses might have been built under the old code. What other changes are you talking about
That's the reason why your neighborhood had so many problems with termites. The newer framed houses don't have that issue, so you can easily detect if there are termites by walking around the house vs in your neighborhood where they were probably eating for years undetected. You're just really one-sided when it comes to concrete block homes vs frame and your focusing more on homes built in your neighborhood with problems vs newer frame built homes. I can come up with a lot of negatives (and positives) for both concrete block and frame houses. Anyone new to construction that reads (and believes) your concrete block posts would think they definitely need to buy a concrete block home. I'm just trying to point out that's not the case. Either type of home is fine as long as you get it inspected before buying it and understand which building codes it was built to.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Options
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2016 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Florida > Jacksonville
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top