U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
 [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)
 
 
Old 03-28-2014, 02:10 PM
 
2,941 posts, read 3,866,195 times
Reputation: 1439

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by JR_C View Post
Yes, technology has advanced in newer houses. A modern furnace is more efficient than a 100 year old gravity furnace. A brand new window will be a little more efficient than a 100 year old single-pane window paired with a storm window--for a couple years. There has been quite a bit of advancement in insulating materials over the last century. Electrical wiring has also changed a great deal over the last century. (but, with the advancement of technology, current wiring standards will probably be as antiquated in 100 years, as knob and tube wiring is today)

But, while technology has advanced, the quality of many building materials has deteriorated.
- A modern gas furnace may be more efficient, but it only has a life expectancy of about 18 years. (Life expectancy | Old House Web) The gas furnace in my old house is about 60 years old.
- The best modern windows are expected to last only 50 years. (per link above) But, my 112 year old windows are like new, after spending a few dollars on materials, and a few hours of labor to refurbish them.
- I was recently able to compare the end grain of a modern 4x4 post and the 112 year old railing from my front porch. The modern 4x4 only had about 4-5 growth rings. The porch railing (about 5" wide, and 3" deep) had dozens of growth rings. This would hold true for most wood used in a new house vs. wood in an old house.

Those Levittown houses may have been built as cheaply as possible, but the basic materials were still inherently better than their equivalent counterparts of today.
I would be very afraid of an 60 year old gas furnace. I have never seen a gas furnace last that long usually more like 15-20 years. Your windows are also far less energy efficient and even then old wooden windows are prone to rot. You must live in an odd place if an front porch can last 112 years cause where I live with the snow, cold, and ice, wooden front porches get replaced about every 8-10 years.

Modern wood however isn't as strong due to younger trees and due to not being able to find the old really long joists(I used to live in the old house and the floor joints were an single piece of wood that spanned the whole building). However we also have metal joists too.
Quick reply to this message

 
Old 03-29-2014, 08:26 AM
 
Location: Youngstown, Oh.
4,896 posts, read 7,669,525 times
Reputation: 4508
I wouldn't say modern housing is disposable. Builders build with the materials available, and it's the materials that are generally of poorer quality today. Although, I suppose one could argue that the manufacturers of some components that are used in houses have adopted the "planned obsolescence" approach to manufacturing their products.
Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-29-2014, 09:24 AM
 
9,522 posts, read 14,869,898 times
Reputation: 9769
People have been crowing about disposable houses that will fall down in 20-30 years at least since light framing became common. So far it's never happened. The Levittowns still stand, Daly City of ticky-tacky boxes fame stands, the enormous amount of mid-20th-century suburban construction still stands. No construction method widely used has produced houses which fail in a few decades.

It's true there have been failures. Most of the ones I know about are due to poor foundations -- building on karst and having a sinkhole open up, unknown or ill-considered underground streams, a leaky water main, sometimes bad concrete. Others due to shoddy construction by a particular builder. This sort of thing isn't new, and isn't caused by the techniques.

Sheathing and roofing is the next complaint, usually. Personally I'm not sure I trust OSB on a roof; the problem with OSB is it can absorb water on the edge and hold on to that water. But all wood roofing materials can rot (believe me, I just had my roof replaced and there were many rotten formerly-solid planks), so even if OSB is a problem, it just means a shorter maintenance cycle, not a disposable house. And the waterproofing materials on the roof (the membrane and shingles) have gotten much better, so it might be less of a problem because less water will get through to the roof in the first place.

Then there's finishes. Vinyl siding? Pretty much proven by now. Cement boards? Proven. Veneer brick? Proven. Fake brick/stone? Often kind of tacky looking but I see no reason to believe they fail. EIFS? Personally I wouldn't trust that one, it seems too easy to have it trap water. But again, even if it's a problem it doesn't make for a disposable house.

Interior finish... well, there's a lot of complaining about drywall versus plaster but assuming you don't get a bad batch full of sulfur dioxide it's proven by now. Plaster's sturdier, but it does crack and it's a real pain to repair when it does. Drywall is a whole lot easier to work with and repair.
Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-29-2014, 09:43 AM
 
8,328 posts, read 14,581,646 times
Reputation: 4048
Homes have been built "as cheaply as possible" for a long time now--that's what balloon frames and detail work produced on steam-powered lathes was for, after all. But a century ago "as cheaply as possible" meant frames of old-growth redwood and hardwood, brick and stone. Today it's OSB, second or third growth farmed wood (ecologically sustainable but without the strength of old growth) and brick veneers. Instead of wooden or terra cotta trim as a cheap substitute for stone architectural trim, architectural trim on newer buildings is often styrofoam. And as mentioned elsewhere, I'm not talking about Levittown or Daly City, but primarily the 1980s-1990s. Since the late 1990s into the 2000s, with the introduction of new codes and requirements regarding insulation, homes are actually more energy-efficient than they have been since before World War II, when energy was more expensive and difficult to provide, and houses had more passive energy-saving features. But many call those codes "government regulation" and oppose them at every turn. They're also part of why homes are more expensive now--it's a trade-off for greater safety and lower energy costs.

Drywall vs. plaster? Two words: black mold.

We can build them like we used to, but it's more expensive.
Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-29-2014, 09:49 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,300,367 times
Reputation: 3827
Isn't it more that the neighborhood is disposable, rather than the housing?

Some, but not all, new developments are designed without a sense of place, character, or whatever you want to call it. Their main selling point is low price and shiny new houses. That fine for the first generation of owners. However, after a decade or so, the houses re a bit dated and in need of refurbishment, but now thy are in competition with the brand new development down the road or the next exit off the highway.

Last edited by oakparkdude; 03-29-2014 at 10:03 AM..
Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-29-2014, 10:00 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,043 posts, read 102,742,261 times
Reputation: 33089
Quote:
Originally Posted by wburg View Post
Homes have been built "as cheaply as possible" for a long time now--that's what balloon frames and detail work produced on steam-powered lathes was for, after all. But a century ago "as cheaply as possible" meant frames of old-growth redwood and hardwood, brick and stone. Today it's OSB, second or third growth farmed wood (ecologically sustainable but without the strength of old growth) and brick veneers. Instead of wooden or terra cotta trim as a cheap substitute for stone architectural trim, architectural trim on newer buildings is often styrofoam. And as mentioned elsewhere, I'm not talking about Levittown or Daly City, but primarily the 1980s-1990s. Since the late 1990s into the 2000s, with the introduction of new codes and requirements regarding insulation, homes are actually more energy-efficient than they have been since before World War II, when energy was more expensive and difficult to provide, and houses had more passive energy-saving features. But many call those codes "government regulation" and oppose them at every turn. They're also part of why homes are more expensive now--it's a trade-off for greater safety and lower energy costs.

Drywall vs. plaster? Two words: black mold.

We can build them like we used to, but it's more expensive.
Seriously? Old houses are uniformly poorly insulated. Central heating was not common before the 1940s, and thermostatically controlled heat was a new thing in the 40s. The energy crisis of 1973 brought about stronger codes for energy efficiency.

Examples of Houses for sale in the 1940's with prices
American Homes By Decade - Forbes
Myths About Insulating Old House Walls | About Your House
How to Insulate a House Without Taking Down Drywall | Home Guides | SF Gate
**Older houses, especially those built before World War II, typically are not insulated to today's standards,**

As far as passive energy-saving features of older homes, please elaborate. I couldn't find any stats for home heating prices over time. Maybe you can.

Last edited by nei; 03-29-2014 at 10:41 AM.. Reason: unnecessary
Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-29-2014, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,726,427 times
Reputation: 26676
I think so, not in the ways you think. So many interior components and details are just cheap. I remember moving into a new apartment several years ago. It was billed as luxury but the finishes were cheap. I think we lived there 4 years and the building had been open for 5-6 in total. The laminate counters were failing apart, from normal wear and tear. Counters should not be falling apart so quickly. I see newer building where the doors are I poor shape after a few years. Light switch covers are cracked. All kinds of little stuff is terrible.
Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-29-2014, 10:47 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,043 posts, read 102,742,261 times
Reputation: 33089
Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I think so, not in the ways you think. So many interior components and details are just cheap. I remember moving into a new apartment several years ago. It was billed as luxury but the finishes were cheap. I think we lived there 4 years and the building had been open for 5-6 in total. The laminate counters were failing apart, from normal wear and tear. Counters should not be falling apart so quickly. I see newer building where the doors are I poor shape after a few years. Light switch covers are cracked. All kinds of little stuff is terrible.
Apartments, yeah. They're built cheaply. I've even heard people say that on "House Hunters".

Older homes didn't even have counters in the kitchen, let alone crappy finishes. I've seen houses built in the 1920s w/o any countertops at all. You were supposed to do all your work at the table. I don't remember what the first counter-top finishes were; I remember my dad doing a DIY with vinyl floor tiles back in the 60s. I remember when formica came out, it was supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then corian, and in the last 10-15 years, granite and synthetic granites.

As far from normal wear and tear, apartments get a lot of that, especially when they change owners frequently.
Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-29-2014, 10:50 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,992 posts, read 42,070,148 times
Reputation: 14811
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
As far as passive energy-saving features of older homes, please elaborate. I couldn't find any stats for home heating prices over time. Maybe you can.
In warmer climates, some homes were designed for maximum ventilation (such as good window placement, shading that lets in low sun but blocks high sun) before the advent of A/C. Hawaiian homes usually still are. New England homes never were, a boxy two-story design to minimize heat loss was the usual, concerns about keeping the house cool were ignored (summer is short and you can go outside when the house is too hot and stuffy). Old homes don't have the best insulation, but part of the issue might be the insulation materials decay with time. Not sure about that.

Note wburg said homes had more passive energy saving features before WWII, he didn't mention that insulation was better. But insulation is a much larger factor for most climates.
Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-29-2014, 10:53 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,053 posts, read 29,580,362 times
Reputation: 7830
I was visiting where I grew up recently and the homes that were all built in the 80s still look like they are doing fine.
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.


 
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:
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 > General Forums > Urban Planning
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

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