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Old 08-04-2016, 03:12 PM
 
1,785 posts, read 2,178,930 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katana49 View Post
Yes, that's why I said earlier in this thread that there is no short easy answer for which is better. For me personally, I'll take a newer home with newer installation and efficiency standards.

My price point is high enough that I still get real solid wood doors and such, however, my kitchen cabinets, even though they are custom, are made from particle board.
We're about to replace bedroom doors to solid.
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:16 PM
 
Location: North Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lepoisson View Post
I rented a 1950s home a few years ago. The doors were all solid wood, the walls were all plaster, however, the plumbing was galvanized, the wiring was aluminum, and insulation was poor.

I think I'd rather replace a few doors than deal with rewiring and replumbing an entire home.
I wouldn't generalize so much; there's a lot of plywood in 50s houses, even fancy ones in Preston Hollow. (Demolish some built-ins and you'll see.)

My house is 59 years old and has lots of plywood in it. The interior doors are hollow core doors (as most interior doors are). The floors are solid oak heart. The chimney is solid brick all the way through the attic. The walls are drywall. The studs are true 2x4s. The plumbing is mostly copper except where it has been replaced in one bathroom (where it's PVC). The wiring is copper but it does not have a ground wire throughout the house. A couple of individual outlets are grounded.

The insulation in the attic is quite poor...but that is also easy to overcome. The walls themselves have some insulation in some areas, but I'm not going to rip out all the walls to figure out where it's missing.

I do know from demolishing built-ins and even post-build remodeling done in the mid-late 1960s that this house is extremely well built and extremely solid. I've also helped friends in newer houses do demolition and it goes a lot easier. Just putting that out there. In this house, you'll break a sweat and then some. The nails alone...my god, they're massive. And they used so many of them.
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:33 PM
 
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The house I grew up in, built in 1936, had 1 x 6 tongue and groove Douglas fir planks under the sheetrock on every interior wall.

The house I currently own, built in 1939, has some areas with that construction, but there was a fire and the rebuilt areas don't. The exterior sheathing is the same material under the stone veneer. High end houses today use particle board. Low end houses use a thin sheet insulation with no structural properties.

These houses were built when the nation had been in the Depression for 7-10 years. War production didn't get started even on a small scale till 1940. There couldn't have been very many people left who had money to buy/have built a new house. I suspect that the original owners were successful for their times (engineers, lawyers, etc.) but the economic conditions meant that they were buying 1000-1400 sq. ft. houses.

80 years on, the market has gone almost completely over to size, lots of big open rooms, rather than quality of construction.

I think an old house with certain things modernized is the best combination - high grade materials in construction, coupled with updated insulation, wiring, HVAC, plumbing, etc. It's a lot easier and more affordable to update these things on an old house than to get a builder to build a new house the way the old ones were. And I doubt whether any builder would consider building, or be allowed to build, a 1300 square foot house in an upper-middle-class neighborhood today, due to covenants and the like.
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:39 PM
 
Location: North Texas
24,571 posts, read 35,617,910 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
The house I grew up in, built in 1936, had 1 x 6 tongue and groove Douglas fir planks under the sheetrock on every interior wall.

The house I currently own, built in 1939, has some areas with that construction, but there was a fire and the rebuilt areas don't. The exterior sheathing is the same material under the stone veneer. High end houses today use particle board. Low end houses use a thin sheet insulation with no structural properties.

These houses were built when the nation had been in the Depression for 7-10 years. War production didn't get started even on a small scale till 1940. There couldn't have been very many people left who had money to buy/have built a new house. I suspect that the original owners were successful for their times (engineers, lawyers, etc.) but the economic conditions meant that they were buying 1000-1400 sq. ft. houses.

80 years on, the market has gone almost completely over to size, lots of big open rooms, rather than quality of construction.

I think an old house with certain things modernized is the best combination - high grade materials in construction, coupled with updated insulation, wiring, HVAC, plumbing, etc. It's a lot easier and more affordable to update these things on an old house than to get a builder to build a new house the way the old ones were. And I doubt whether any builder would consider building, or be allowed to build, a 1300 square foot house in an upper-middle-class neighborhood today, due to covenants and the like.
Try finding enough skilled carpenters who can build that way to satisfy today's demands...affordably. They don't exist; they've been underbid by less-skilled labor.
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:50 PM
 
9,907 posts, read 4,834,455 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDGeek View Post
Try finding enough skilled carpenters who can build that way to satisfy today's demands...affordably. They don't exist; they've been underbid by less-skilled labor.
Yes, that too. Also tile setters who can, by hand, lay up 2" of mortar over an expanded metal mesh and then set tiles, one by one, into it, and produce an almost perfectly flat vertical surface. Cabinetmakers who can and will build kitchen cabinets in place board by board. And so on.

That's why I was suggesting that for quality of housing, an old house with certain updates probably is the best choice - but it's going to be hard to find 4000+ sq. ft. with media rooms and children's bedrooms each of which consists of a suite including private bath and walk in closet. To get that you have to forgo a few things - like baseboards.
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Old 08-04-2016, 04:22 PM
 
1,235 posts, read 1,091,945 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDGeek View Post
Try finding enough skilled carpenters who can build that way to satisfy today's demands...affordably. They don't exist; they've been underbid by less-skilled labor.
This is just the market at work - the people with skills know it and expect to be paid. High quality materials cost for a reason. And as prospective home buyers we have to decide how much money we want to spend and then within that budget what our magical trade offs will be for location, quality, and home size. The number of skilled crafts people reflects our current market. Most people will trade size of home for quality of craftsmanship and so the market for those people has shrunk to fit the demand.
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Old 08-04-2016, 05:18 PM
 
1,785 posts, read 2,178,930 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by numbersguy100 View Post
This is just the market at work - the people with skills know it and expect to be paid. High quality materials cost for a reason. And as prospective home buyers we have to decide how much money we want to spend and then within that budget what our magical trade offs will be for location, quality, and home size. The number of skilled crafts people reflects our current market. Most people will trade size of home for quality of craftsmanship and so the market for those people has shrunk to fit the demand.
Good point. I'm not cramming my family in 1300 square feet for a tongue and groove build.
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Old 08-04-2016, 06:08 PM
 
4,536 posts, read 2,538,550 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
That's why I was suggesting that for quality of housing, an old house with certain updates probably is the best choice - but it's going to be hard to find 4000+ sq. ft. with media rooms and children's bedrooms each of which consists of a suite including private bath and walk in closet. To get that you have to forgo a few things - like baseboards.
This is a big part of the equation, too. People in the last several decades have decided they want huge houses. The average house today is 1,000 square feet larger than the average house in 1973. My armchair opinion is that this has had some poor social ramifications, but more relevantly to this thread, the increase in size means some costs have to be cut in order to keep prices reasonable. One of these is an utter lack of any variety in new neighborhoods. "Variety" now means picking stone or brick and picking a floorplan. Maybe getting an extra 10 sq. ft. on your covered entry way.
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Old 08-04-2016, 06:15 PM
 
Location: North Texas
24,571 posts, read 35,617,910 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by numbersguy100 View Post
This is just the market at work - the people with skills know it and expect to be paid. High quality materials cost for a reason. And as prospective home buyers we have to decide how much money we want to spend and then within that budget what our magical trade offs will be for location, quality, and home size. The number of skilled crafts people reflects our current market. Most people will trade size of home for quality of craftsmanship and so the market for those people has shrunk to fit the demand.


My point is that there are fewer skilled carpenters than there used to be to meet housing demands. And those skills aren't getting passed on. Materials are also of a lesser quality than they used to be. I disagree that skilled carpenters aren't in demand...quite the opposite.
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Old 08-04-2016, 06:30 PM
 
4,369 posts, read 4,701,847 times
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The average house today is 1,000 square feet larger than the average house in 1973. My armchair opinion is that this has had some poor social ramifications, but more relevantly to this thread, the increase in size means some costs have to be cut in order to keep prices reasonable
My armchair opinion is they started taking women's input into design in certain areas of the home, and they got larger. The '60s man who was a member of the elks lodge in the evening or whatever and worked 9-5 and didn't spend much time on laundry (who cares if it's in the garage or outside?) or cooking so he didn't care if those rooms sucked and didn't really notice that the kids wanted to kill themselves and mom when stacked 2-3 to a bedroom. As soon as some marketer took mom's input those rooms got a lot bigger and better.

That might have negative impacts on social issues, but by 1970, that ship had fully sailed and it was too late to turn back to more compact neighborhoods and more upright houses.
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