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Old 08-24-2016, 10:27 AM
 
Location: USA
6,231 posts, read 5,931,216 times
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It's like those new McMansions, they may look fancy but it's just another crappy plywood build with fake stone exterior.

I think homes are built cheaply because they're basically temporary anyway. Give it a few decades and home will be demolished for a bigger one, land redeveloped, and so on. And hardly anyone nowadays will live in the same house for the rest of their lives.
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Old 08-24-2016, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Prepperland
15,183 posts, read 10,992,515 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lepoisson View Post
Here's what you'll get in my area of Texas for the same price: 6125 Paddlefish Drive, Fort Worth, TX For Sale | Trulia.com

I think Americans have a different mentality than Europeans. Most Europeans buy a house and end up staying there until the end of their lives. The home will probably get passed down. I'm in my late 20s and I've lived in 4 different houses because my parents always wanted something bigger or in a different area.

Homes in the US are built to last maybe 30 years [with a 15 year roof warranty?] without needing major maintenance. Homes in Europe are build to last a century without needing major maintenance.
You can get waterfront access for double that price. Built in 2014.
BUT, the irony is that this house, for all its glitz, has ephemeral bones, and will need much more upkeep over time.
3408 Dockside Shores Drive, Gainesville, GA For Sale | Trulia.com
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Old 08-24-2016, 11:01 AM
 
1,373 posts, read 890,106 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lepoisson View Post
I've spent a lot of time in Europe. Houses there are built with roofs that last 50-75 years. Floors are usually solid wood, marble, or stone. All interior doors are made with solid wood. Walls are more solid feeling (knock on a wall here in the US and it sounds hollow). However, things like plumbing and insulation are very similar. American homes might even have better insulation.

Some people think that because many European homes are hundreds of years old, they are better built. I suppose it's true. But even the newer homes in Europe are build better. I rented a house in France that was built in the 1950s and it had all of the features I mentioned above.

Even the $500,000 home that my friend's parents bought doesn't feel as sturdy as the crappy studio I rented in Paris years back.

Why are construction methods so different between the US and other parts of the world?

The quality of housing construction differs strongly in Europe. The differences in Europe are probably as huge as the differences in the Americas. I guess that most Germans are firmly convinced that Germans build the most solid houses. I have to admit that I also think that the houses in Switzerland, Austria and Germany are probably the most solid ones. I'm not a building expert, but from what I have seen it could be true. But it's not necessarily a good thing. Over time the preferences to house sizes, floor plans, window sizes and all such things will change. It's not uncommon in Germany to demolish houses that were built in the 50s or 60s and replace them with newer houses. It often doesn't make sense to build houses that will last for centuries. Personally I would consider a house that was built in the 1950s as extremely old. In Germany houses that were built before WW2 have mostly wooden ceilings. I find that quite scary, I'm always afraid that I will fall through the floor.

Many Germans consider American houses as card-board houses The total thickness of exterior walls in most German houses is about 45cm, compared to about 15cm in most American houses. The walls in the U.S. seems paper-thin. The view from the inside of a window with the window board and the surrounding wall in a German house is completely different to the view in an American house. In the U.S. it looks like the windows and the curtains are painted on the walls But I think building a wooden house has many advantages over a brick-built or concrete-built house.

Here in Germany American houses have the reputation for being poorly insulated. I have heard so many bad things about the insulation of American houses. American windows have also a bad reputation.
The house prices per sq ft seems quite reasonable in the U.S, at first sight. Considering that they are built mostly in just two month, and given the quality of the used building materials, they seem quite expensive to me.

The differences in construction doesn't seem limited to residential buildings. For example the construction method of an Aldi grocery store in the U.S. is completely different to how such a store is build in Germany. In the U.S. they use vertical steel beams, in Germany (and probably all over Europe) they use columns out of reinforced concrete. The U.S. construction method has the huge advantage that the construction time is way shorter.

I think the focus in the U.S. is on construct buildings as fast as possible and preferably low initial construction costs. Durability and eventual maintenance costs aren't considered that much. I have the impression that this approach is quite common in the U.S. for almost everything.


Here is an example of the construction of a typical single family house in Germany:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=832ugRtRxAQ
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Old 08-24-2016, 11:06 AM
 
Location: Tucson/Nogales
20,274 posts, read 23,808,805 times
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Just watch and see, a no brainer, when they rebuild all those houses lost to Fires in California this year, bang-bang-bang will go the hammers, rebuild as fast as possible, and not a stitch of concrete beyond the slab. Yup! Let's do stupid once again!

Las Vegas still has a reported 60,000 vacant homes due to the real estate crash, and so what was the big rush to build everything so fast? Building with concrete is more time-consuming, and if they had built the homes like they used to build in Las Vegas, during the 40's, 50's, 60's, with concrete construction, there probably wouldn't be 60,000 vacant homes today.

As they say: haste makes waste! And the U.S. is the world capital of waste!
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Old 08-24-2016, 11:44 AM
 
1,373 posts, read 890,106 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanR View Post
I haven't been to Europe but have a question about house size.

Aren't the houses there much smaller for the same $? E.g. $300K might get you a 3000 sq/ft stick built house here. What does that $300K get you on the other side of the pond?
It depends how you measure the size of a house. Every country uses different methods for measuring the house sizes. In the U.S. it's a gross measurement. Broadly speaking all spaces that are heatable are included into the living space sq ft statement, that also includes spaces that are covered by interior walls, stairs, spaces below roof slopes and even half of the thickness of the exterior walls. In European countries they use normally a net measurement. It's the sum of the floor spaces of all rooms without spaces below stairs and only partly the spaces below roof slopes.
If you use the official measurement method that is required by law, a newly build single family house in Germany has a living space of about 150m². Such a house has normally a basement. If you would use the American way to measure the living space, such a house would have a living space of about 270m². Three stories with each about 90m². The available space isn't that different, at least not if you compare a typical German single family house with a basement to a typical American single family house without a basement.

According to the quality of the used building materials the construction of a single family house in Germany cost between 1,000 and 2,000 Euro per m² living space. Choosing medium quality would cost about 1,500 Euro. But that's in most cases without a basement. You have to add about 50,000 Euro for the basement. A typical single family three stories house with a footprint of maybe about 9x11m² and about 150m² living space and basement would cost about 275,000 Euro. And the usable space is not that different to a 3,000 sq ft house in the U.S. But this price is without a kitchen, without kitchen appliances and without the price for the plot.

I don't have the impression that the construction costs in Europe are distinctly higher than in the U.S. Considering the different building methods I think that the construction of a single family house in the U.S. is quite expensive.
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Old 08-24-2016, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Prepperland
15,183 posts, read 10,992,515 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tijlover View Post
Just watch and see, a no brainer, when they rebuild all those houses lost to Fires in California this year, bang-bang-bang will go the hammers, rebuild as fast as possible, and not a stitch of concrete beyond the slab. Yup! Let's do stupid once again!

As they say: haste makes waste! And the U.S. is the world capital of waste!
I suspect a more sinister force is at work.
My reason is this little tidbit.
At one time Habitat for Humanity built concrete sandwich wall houses, like this one, that Jimmy Carter helped build:
Tridipanel - Hurricanes and Tornadoes - 1 of 14 homes damaged - Eco Friendly Home | Green Homes Building | Environmentally Friendly Home

But they stopped. Only wood frame construction is subsidized by HfH.
[expletives deleted!]

Is there a covert policy to discourage building GOOD, STURDY, RESILIENT housing for poor folks?
Ever see a luxury mobile home or double wide?
You can find luxury models of practically everything else - boats, cars, appliances, clothing, but not for modular / mobile homes.

Last edited by jetgraphics; 08-24-2016 at 12:42 PM..
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Old 08-24-2016, 12:05 PM
 
Location: Chicago area
17,325 posts, read 9,314,611 times
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One of the many reasons I won't live in anything but an old house is because of the materials used to build houses, especially wood, is inferior to old growth wood.

All of our original hardware with the exception of a couple of closet doors with skeleton keys still works. We have two exterior doors with skeleton keys that work great.

Our windows are from 1911 and will still last longer then some vinyl piece of crap stapled together in China.

Live in new construction? Nope not in my universe. Just the cost to replicate all of the leaded glass and beautiful oak mill work would be the cost of a nice car.
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Old 08-24-2016, 12:33 PM
 
1,373 posts, read 890,106 times
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Statistics about the home ownership rates in different countries can be very tricky. For example it's in some countries more common to sell the previous house and buy a new one if you have to relocate for work to a different place. In some other countries it's more common to rent out the own house and rent an apartment at the new place where people have to relocate for work.
For example I own the house that I have inherited from my parents. But I don't live in my house. It's too far away from my job. So I rent out my house and rent an apartment in Düsseldorf where I work. Statistically I don't enhance the home ownership rate.
Switzerland is probably the richest country, but it has the lowest home ownership rate. But who knows how many Swiss people own a house but live in a rented apartment? All housing units are owned by someone. The question is how many houses are owned by ordinary individuals and how many houses are owned by "evil" real estate companies?
The home ownership rate in less developed countries (for example Romania) is normally higher, because much fewer people relocate for work. It's more likely that people stay all the time in their hometown and do the jobs that are available in the proximity. They can live in their own house. It's much less common to rent out the own house and rent an apartment in a bigger city.
These differences makes such home ownership statistics between different countries somewhat misleading. A low home ownership rate doesn't mean necessarily that fewer people own houses.

A theoretical extreme example would be a country with just two people. Both people own a house, but both people rent out their house to the other one. Statistically the home ownership rate is 0%, but 100% of the people own a house.
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Old 08-24-2016, 12:37 PM
 
Location: San Diego A.K.A "D.A.Y.G.O City"
1,992 posts, read 4,083,953 times
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This thread has basically confirmed my suspicions on why newly American built homes are so cheaply made, and feel like they are made from paper mache.

In the U.S., our mentality is let's build things faster, cheaper= higher profit. American companies obsess over profit gains more so than I believe other big corporations around the world. There's nothing wrong in making money, but if GREED is the sole focus of your operation, then that business is doing a disservice to their customers by building poorly made products, be it from a vacuum cleaner, a dishwasher, to a house.

I've noticed that older homes constructed in the U.S., 1800's-1940's, were made very study and also looked great (NYC is perfect example). Knock on a wall of newly built house, and you can hear the hollowness a mile away. Do the same on an older pre 60's home, and you hardly hear a thing, it's a "thud" sound or nothing at all.

In Europe, you guys have all this wonderful, BEAUTIFUL ancient buildings that is very well made. All that stone and marble is just amazing to see, and how the architects, and artist in those days were able to cut and carve some of those old gothic figures on the outside is mind boggling to me!

You can tell in those days they built those structures to last hundreds of years, those same principles are long gone in the construction industry today. Plus the cost alone for materials would put those companies out of business.

I've been in one of my friends semi-new condo which was built in 2009, and man o man, the walls, the doors, even the cupboards all seem so thin and cheaply built. The doors alone have ZERO weight to them including the main door, and you easily hear sounds from outside on the street (cars driving by, airplane noise, people talking) that you wonder how in the heck where the builders able to actually have people fall for buying these poorly constructed condo's? What lies were being told to prospective buyers?

I don't care how damn ECO friendly the place is, if it can't block out noise, keep things nice and cool during the summer, and warm in the winter, feel at least some quality was put into everything, I don't want it!

But this goes for almost everything now days that is built. More plastic which breaks easier and eventually will need replacing often. Appliances and even the small things that you buy aren't as well made anymore.

I own some very old blenders built in the 50's and 60's that still work great today, but they're all metal. Including some vintage fans, and an old Kirby vacuum cleaner, all going strong while most of the new stuff I have purchased several years ago has already crapped out.
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Old 08-24-2016, 01:45 PM
 
633 posts, read 452,189 times
Reputation: 710
Quote:
Originally Posted by tijlover View Post
Just watch and see, a no brainer, when they rebuild all those houses lost to Fires in California this year, bang-bang-bang will go the hammers, rebuild as fast as possible, and not a stitch of concrete beyond the slab. Yup! Let's do stupid once again!

Las Vegas still has a reported 60,000 vacant homes due to the real estate crash, and so what was the big rush to build everything so fast? Building with concrete is more time-consuming, and if they had built the homes like they used to build in Las Vegas, during the 40's, 50's, 60's, with concrete construction, there probably wouldn't be 60,000 vacant homes today.

As they say: haste makes waste! And the U.S. is the world capital of waste!
Because with no trees left the forest fire risk is gone for a very long time. Also building codes are an issue if you alter things.

My house was badly damaged in a Hurricane. Town to speed up rebuilding allowed "in-kind" work no permits.

So my lower level which had six feet of water, put back, kitchen, furnance, laundry room etc for a total cost of only 40K.

To do it right and raise the house etc would cost 200K and I would be out of house a year or two waiting on permits, engineers, contractors, soil samples, abestos and lead tests, utility and electric, phone and cable, gas hooks up etc. with around 40,000 houses damaged that is not an option. So we rebuild back.

And FEMA, NFIP, Homeowners replace what you have not what you want. If concrete costs double you pay the extra.
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