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Old 01-13-2011, 10:47 PM
140 posts, read 672,992 times
Reputation: 57


I wasn't quite sure where to post this, so I thought I'd try here. I have reservations about buying a newly built home. For one reason, I have environmental sensitivities and fumes can make me very ill. I often get very ill in new cars or in a newly carpeted room. Also the issue of chinese drywall makes me uncomfortable. I know some people have become seriously ill. So my question is this: Which era or decade do you think had the highest quality of construction? Are there houses built in certain periods of time that I should avoid? Any input will be appreciated!!
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:14 PM
Location: Pomona
1,955 posts, read 10,945,052 times
Reputation: 1562
Chinese drywall largely stopped by 2008 as the building boom wound down. Nonetheless, there's going to be some sort of issue no matter what era you look at ...

Asbestos in the 50's and 60's.
Aluminum wiring in the 70's.
Polybutylene piping in the 80's.
EIFS in the 90's.

Bottom line - don't get too hung up about when it was built, but rather, what the condition of the house is today.
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:18 PM
28,455 posts, read 84,914,994 times
Reputation: 18723
Default If you are that sensitive to environmental issues...

I think it would be foolish to do other than seek out a specialized inspector to track down something that meets your needs.

I would avoid older houses that are probably not vey air tight.

I would avoid newer houses that are probably too well sealed.

Unlike goldylocks younwon't find one that is "just right" by luck, odds mare you should budget to either build from scratch with some expensive high tech air exchanger or retrofit something.
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Old 01-14-2011, 12:16 AM
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,869 posts, read 16,236,719 times
Reputation: 29224
A decade ago I bought a three-bedroom brick house in a safe neighborhood in Pittsburgh that was built in 1927. I paid $35,000. It had been in one family the entire time and had shockingly few updates, because the two sisters who had been raised there from childhood had never moved out. (And people think that only happens today. )

Even the kitchen cabinets and sink were original. Of course the electrical system was not up to code and had to be replaced. I put in a new furnace and added A/C; changed the windows to double-paned ones; put new shingles on the roof; added some insulation to the crawl-space attic; did a few updates in the kitchen (new appliances) and the large, fully tiled bathroom, and I was good to go. Of course I repainted all the walls and the exterior trim, but everything else in the interior was pristine hardwood -- floors, baseboards, crown molding, mantles, and staircase. All I had to do was clean the wood. The house also had a cold cellar, porcelain tubs in basement, and Murano glass ceiling fixtures.

There are still lots of houses like that in the rustbelt cities. You have to do without room-size closets, acres of granite countertops, master suites, and some of the other things today's buyers think they HAVE TO HAVE, but in actuality these houses are charming and totally livable, with good-sized rooms and lots of built-in storage. They were constructed board-by-board and brick-by-brick to last for generations.

So I vote for houses built right before that other Great Depression.
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Old 01-14-2011, 12:26 AM
5,697 posts, read 19,070,484 times
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It really depends on the builder in any era. I had a 1920's colonial that was built extremely well. Very solid home structure wise. It had tons of character but the original furnace was coal and when the previous owner put in forced air, it was not set up correctly. The house was damn cold and our heating bills were terrible. So older homes have quirks when trying to modernize them. We now own a home that was built in the 90's and although it does not have the charm of yesteryear the house is very energy efficient. We have 3 times the size and our bills are less than half was what we used to pay for the colonial charmer. I think older homes have better quality materials and more unique features but it really depends on the workmanship and how the house was cared for over the years.
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Old 01-14-2011, 05:59 AM
Location: Prospect, KY
5,284 posts, read 19,985,040 times
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My first thought was some homes built in the 1920's...I've seen some beauties and I love some of the architectural and creature comfort features in homes of that era.

However, with older homes, you often do not get double paned windows, good insulation, effiecient heating and cooling systems, dry basements, correct ground drainage, and the wiring and plumbing can have issues as well.

I think many of the newer homes being built have lots issues of concern too. The horror stories I hear are more about new homes than older homes.

Before we retired to Kentucky, we lived in So. California in a ranch style home built in 1950. It was solid and it had a nice addition.

The interesting thing was that when it was inspected by the termine inspector, only the new portion had small infectations of termites (I think it cost us $100 to fix)....the inspector explained that he rarely found termites in the original part of the 60+ year old houses in our neighborhood because the lumber had to be dried to a higher temperature in the 1940's and 50's (per code) than the standards presently called for...meaning the termites were able to more easily infest the lumber with the higher moisture content in the newer addition and ignored the dryer lumber used in the older part of the house. By the way, no abestoes in our 1950 house in California.

So, there are good and not so good things about homes built in every era...and certainly the quality of the builder and materials (and budget) have a lot to do with the quality of the home.

There are green homes being built throughout the United States - I'd look into those kinds of homes if I had the sensitivity issues that you do. Good luck to you.
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Old 01-14-2011, 07:10 AM
Location: Philaburbia
41,699 posts, read 74,634,436 times
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I wouldn't buy a house that was built after 1970. Maybe 1960; it would depend on how the house was built. For one thing, I hate drywall.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:37 AM
Location: Johns Creek, GA
17,403 posts, read 65,528,173 times
Reputation: 23515
"Which decade had most quality construction in houses"

Everyone of them! It's a matter of economics- what a builder was willing to spend, or what a buyer was willing to spend.
Builders had to meet a price-point objective, buyers buy on perceived value.
Maybe you should ask the question- "How do I find a quality built house that meets my expectations of perceived value?"

Now comes the real question- Regardless of what "decade" the house was built in, how has it been maintained? Even the best products need care and maintenance- so it's possible that a starter home that was built with lowend materials and products can last as long or longer than a house built with the best if it's maintained properly.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:39 AM
Location: Niceville, FL
13,254 posts, read 22,650,364 times
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Pre about-1980, you also have lead-based paint to deal with. Which isn't an issue in day to day life if it's not chipped or you don't have small children, but adds another layer of complexity to any remodeling you do.
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Old 01-14-2011, 06:13 PM
43,011 posts, read 107,590,543 times
Reputation: 30709
In the East, I'd go with the 1920s too---anytime in the early 1900s, depending on the style of the house.

In the West, I'd go with whatever decades those arts and crafts houses were made.

A brick house will be more stable than a frame house. It all depends on how well it was maintained. Poor roof maintenance can destroy even the best made houses.

I'd prefer to chose one that has already been remodeled to eliminate the lead paint unless you're willing to do that yourself.
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