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Old 02-28-2017, 06:57 AM
 
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Some building products have greatly improved in quality. PVC, PEX, central heat and air, composite materials (especially decking), buildings are far more efficient, windows, roofing materials, insulation, concrete is better now then just 50 years ago, foundation design and build is better now then in the past.

The biggest disadvantage we have now is a lack of skilled labor in carpentry and masonry, but it still exists. I own a custom home built in the 60's and it was built very well and funnily enough is cheaper then the cookie cutter suburban homes down the street.

I personally wouldn't buy an old house that hasn't been renovated with modern plumbing, electrical, windows, insulation, heating, and a/c. Old homes can be great and many were built with stronger materials then homes today, but that doesn't mean they don't have disadvantages.

Poorly built homes can be found in almost every decade almost everywhere. Builders cutting corners to save costs or it could be a new builder who doesn't really know what they are doing.

If I had to choose a time, I'd say most homes built between 1930 and 1950 were the worst, it may not seem like it since most have been demolished, the surviving homes are mostly the well built homes and custom built homes. The two worst parts of my city were built cheaply and in a rush during that time. One suburb was military housing and I'm not sure the purpose of the other. My city is in talks about buying up the whole subdivision and demolishing it, like 300 houses built in the last 40's. There are some really neat and really well built tutor style homes built in the 30-40's here, but I think those are a rarity anymore and not a ton of them were built. Sadly some were not maintained and have been torn down as well.

In the modern era I'd say the early 2000's have been the worst, but house construction has gotten better in the last decade.
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:34 AM
 
Location: St. Louis, MO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattks View Post

If I had to choose a time, I'd say most homes built between 1930 and 1950 were the worst, it may not seem like it since most have been demolished, the surviving homes are mostly the well built homes and custom built homes. The two worst parts of my city were built cheaply and in a rush during that time. One suburb was military housing and I'm not sure the purpose of the other. My city is in talks about buying up the whole subdivision and demolishing it, like 300 houses built in the last 40's. There are some really neat and really well built tutor style homes built in the 30-40's here, but I think those are a rarity anymore and not a ton of them were built. Sadly some were not maintained and have been torn down as well.
I agree that a lot of military housing that went up in the 40s in subpar- both those at military bases and those built as subdivisions for workers in wartime plants/factories.

The old Midway Park next to Camp Lejeune was awful (it's been replaced in recent years by new housing).

One thing to keep in mind though, is that the housing built in a lot of these places, such as in Oak Ridge TN (outside Knoxville) was not intended to be permanent. In fact, the original builders of the housing in Oak Ridge made no secret of its 'temporary' status, and only gave the housing a 10 year lifespan!

It's actually a miracle that 70 years later, many of these 'temporary' homes are still standing and occupied.

Yes, they were built in a rush and comparatively poorly compared to 'proper' subdivisions, but they were never meant to have permanence.
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Old 02-28-2017, 03:39 PM
 
4,675 posts, read 3,129,653 times
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Originally Posted by glamatomic View Post
I agree that a lot of military housing that went up in the 40s in subpar- both those at military bases and those built as subdivisions for workers in wartime plants/factories.

The old Midway Park next to Camp Lejeune was awful (it's been replaced in recent years by new housing).

One thing to keep in mind though, is that the housing built in a lot of these places, such as in Oak Ridge TN (outside Knoxville) was not intended to be permanent. In fact, the original builders of the housing in Oak Ridge made no secret of its 'temporary' status, and only gave the housing a 10 year lifespan!

It's actually a miracle that 70 years later, many of these 'temporary' homes are still standing and occupied.

Yes, they were built in a rush and comparatively poorly compared to 'proper' subdivisions, but they were never meant to have permanence.
Right, they were never meant to be good or last a long time, but they still all got sold off to private ownership. They go for about $20K here and aren't worth a fraction of that. Worse then that they are basically under the flight path of the regional airport and next to all the factories. They should be demolished and turned in fields.

Many old crappy tenements are from that era as well.
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:08 PM
 
1,067 posts, read 454,727 times
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Reading these comments make me sad lol. I have a 1967 bi levelhome, seems sturdy built bricks, everything. Never been in a badly built home that I recall though. fingers crossed mine holds up. Does have new roof, all new windows, doors, gutters, remodeled kitchen, bathrooms and the works. But that doesnt change the actual foundation.
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Old 03-02-2017, 01:36 PM
 
Location: Texas
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We purchased a 1900 sq ft home in Jan/2016 and we have been renovating for the last year.

There is not a single square wall in the entire home. Shoddy workmanship.

The house is 12 years old.
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Old 03-02-2017, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
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What does "not a single square wall" mean?
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Old 03-03-2017, 04:59 AM
 
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All corners would be 90 degree angles.....and nothing is perfectly flat, either.
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Old 03-03-2017, 07:29 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
29,232 posts, read 69,882,573 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattks View Post
Some building products have greatly improved in quality. PVC, PEX, central heat and air, composite materials (especially decking), buildings are far more efficient, windows, roofing materials, insulation, concrete is better now then just 50 years ago, foundation design and build is better now then in the past.

I personally wouldn't buy an old house that hasn't been renovated with modern plumbing, electrical, windows, insulation, heating, and a/c. Old homes can be great and many were built with stronger materials then homes today, but that doesn't mean they don't have disadvantages.

Poorly built homes can be found in almost every decade almost everywhere. Builders cutting corners to save costs or it could be a new builder who doesn't really know what they are doing.
Forced air is actually a downgrade in quality for heat. It is used because it is cheaper (especially with AC), not because it is better. Radiated heat is healthier, more comfortable, more efficient - pretty much better in every way possible except cost. The quality high end custom built homes still use radiated heat. Hoever it is expensive to have radiated heat AND ducted AC, so, for the most part, only the very high end custom homes still have radiated heat.

Composite materials (especially decking) are certainly an improvement over modern lumber, but not so much over the old tight grain old growth true sized lumber. Some contractors will not build decks out of modern lumber because they get call back, warranty issues, dissatisfied customers. However the wood they used to use will last hundreds of years of cared for properly. Wood does not eventually decay in sunlight. It holds fasteners better, resists heat better and it will not poison/kill you as fast if it catches on fire. However it requires maintenance, must not be allowed to sit soaking in water, is subject to pests and is more flammable.

Windows are not really much better, just different. Older windows with storms are nearly as efficient as modern windows where the storms are basically built in. If an older window gets damaged (like a broken pane), you just fix it. New windows usually have to be replaced if they are damaged. Most of the new cheap (vinyl) windows will not last anywhere near as long as wood windows if they are taken care of properly. Nothing can match the low E glass for keeping heat out, but the difference is relatively small. Glass is a terrible insulator. That cannot be changed.

Concrete is much improved and so is reinforced masonry. Mortar and brick are far stronger than they used to be. Unfortunately re-enforced masonry is rarely used due to cost. Real brick is rarely used either.

Drywall is far weaker and inferior to plaster, especially the super thin weak stuff they use today. However if you spend the money, you can get 5/8" reinforced commercial drywall that has many of the positive qualities of plaster, plus the added advantage that it will hold screws to hang things with and it is much easier to install and repair.

Some of the biggest advancements are structural steel and steel studs and composite panel construction. As this becomes more common and eventually replaces stick framing, stucco, and 3/8" drywall, I think we will see massive improvements in durability/quality.

Foundation technology is much improved. However cost saving/corner cutting takes away much of that. Many older homes, they did not know how close they could really cut it with the foundation so they built massive foundations out of granite or limestone block. As long as any drainage problems are addressed, those will far outlast today's foundations which are often engineered too close to the limits in order to reduce cost. There are many Rammed earth foundations that are just as tight as when they were built. However rubble, dirt basements, and most mortared field-stone foundations and the really old concrete (especially less than 12" thick) are not the likely to last. Block old or new is not the best idea, especially if it is not properly reinforced, as I learned the hard way when we moved our house and built a new basement under it (spend the money for concrete). With block modern methods have improved, if they actually follow the methods (including reinforcing all the way up, not just to the soil line), but modern block has a fraction of the strength of old three cell cinder block. Frankly, I woudl not recommend a block basement old or new. Nor brick.

Some finishes have improved and some have downgraded. While wood moldings are much nicer than plastic, they require more care. However formed polyethylene medallions and other simlar components are far superior to plaster.

Plastics like PEX and ABS/PVC last longer, clog less (when properly installed). The only downside is noise from ABS vertical drops and greater danger of toxic fumes and flash fireballs in a fire. Given how low the risk of fire is today and the fact smoke detectors usually alert people in time to get out, the risk is relatively low and the benefits probably outweigh the risk for most people.

Wiring and electrical technology is improved. Romex is much easier to install and a little bit safer than K & T wiring. Grounded systems provide a little added safety margin and GFCIs provide a lot. The required plethora of outlets also help prevent people from getting stupid with extension cords. Older light fixtures were often works of art, part of the overall design/decor. Many of them need to be rewired for safety, but there is no way to replicate the beauty of many of these fixtures except at a cost that is impractical (unless you are Donald Trump). If they quit making the modern, cheap, "cieling boob" fixtures today, I would not be sad for an instant.

Pluming technology improved and then in some ways degraded. They made toilets flush better and easier to clean, then they made them worse in a poorly thought out effort to reduce water consumption (resulting in increased water consumption in many cases). Faucets and other fixtures improved, then they got cheaper and cheaper. The new ones are short lived and disposable. You are not going to make one last 100 years by simply replacing some rubber rings once in a while. Now you just toss it out and replace it when it starts to leak or clog. Surfaces for fixtures have improved massively at the high end. There is a process where they create a vacuum, vaporize chrome and brass or nickle, and electrically merge them into the steel of the fixture. The resulting finish is nearly impervious to damage or aging. The problem is the resulting fixtures cost $2000. Cheap modern finishes are cheap. They are not meant to last because you will be throwing the fixture away before too long anyway.

One thing interesting, stoves/ovens have not really changed much at all. Other than some safety features to prevent stupid people from killing themselves, they are much the same (at least anything made after the late 1920s when they went to gas or electric and added thermostatic controls for the ovens).

Roofing technology other than slate and tile, has made huge advancements. If I had to designate one thing as most improved, I would pick roofing materials and technology. Slate and tile, although unchanged are still probably the best roofing materials out there, but prohibitively expensive. Plus they are heavey things to fall on you in and earthquake or fire. (Not sure whether trusses will support them either, if so, the danger in a fire is extreme)

Insulation depends on what you are comparing and what time period you compare. Cellulose properly installed and properly treated for fire resistance is nearly the equal of foam. Fiberglass batt, the standard from about 1970s to about 2000 is not that great an insulation. Over time, they learned the importance of preventing air infiltration and somewhat improved batt installation by taping the gaps on the sides, but it is still the least effective of the three most common types (cellulose, foam and batt). In older days, I am not sure they did not know the importance of air infiltration, they may have just wanted to allow some infiltration because it is more healthy to have some air circulation and heat was cheap and no one was much worried about AC. A lot of people left a window or two open all winter to allow fresh air circulation. Today we prefer to be warm over healthy. Plus the outside air in many places is not all that healthy.

One thing that is interesting. Remember those old funny square nails? They actually hold many times better than the round wire cut nails. Some claim they even hold better than screws. They are just expensive to make by comparison and do not fit in a nail gun. And nothing is a strong as the old notch and peg connections from post and beam framing (if done correctly). However few or no people are going to pay an extra hundred thousand or more extra for improved framing. In any event, with modern forced growth lumber, there is no point.

Flooring downgraded in many cases with the advent of carpeting. However we are moving away from that and there are many very durable floor products (and a bunch of really crummy ones).

Lightweight truss construction was a bad idea IMO. Not as strong as rafters and dangerous in a fire. However, having said that, when I told the contractor building the addition to our house that I wanted rafters instead of trusses, he told me it would cost something like $16,000 more. I reluctantly went with trusses and just told my family to stay away from the addition in a fire or a storm.

It is true, there are cheapo homes built during all decades. The difference is now cheapo is the norm and quality is the exception. Homes are not built to last 150 years or more. No one really cares whether they last more than 30 years (unless they own/buy a 29 year old home). In any event, If you buy a 150 year old home, you know you are buying a home built to last over 100 years. While if you buy a 0-30 year old home, it is highly unlikely to be built to last 100 years. Another interesting thing - according to my brother who likes to study such things, in many hurricane/tornado stricken areas, you find row after row of flattened modern homes and the ones standing intact and sometimes undamaged are the older homes. Both a testament to greater emphasis on quality and durability, and to the fact that any homes not built to withstand such events were already wiped out.

We have begun to swing away from the emphasis on only size, bling and sales appeal and somewhat back toward quality. Not because people are suddenly willing to pay for quality they cannot see over bling or more square feet, but because builders are sick of getting sued and their insurance carriers are raising deductibles, exclusions, and requirements. Thus, really new homes (i.,e. post 2005 ish) are likely to have somewhat better quality than homes from the preceding 40 years.

Last edited by Coldjensens; 03-03-2017 at 08:51 AM..
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Old 03-28-2021, 11:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Larry Caldwell View Post
The newer a house is the better it is. There were a lot of really poor building practices in the last century. Clay or concrete tile drain lines were one of the worst choices, followed by cast iron with leaded joints. ADS plastic drains last forever and never clog. Galvanized pipe gave way to copper, which gave way to PEX, which is essentially immortal. Building codes mandated things like hurricane clips to keep the roof from flying away, ventilation in attics and crawl spaces, adequate insulation and rebar and UFER grounds in the foundation.

If you find a house that is 50 years old in great shape, it's because somebody spent a small fortune on upgrades and repairs. My house was built 45 years ago. I bought it 22 years ago. The bozo who built it never nailed off the siding. Large areas of the attic had no insulation at all. The windows were single pane aluminum frame sliders. All the floors squeaked because they used nails instead of screws to hold the subfloor down. All those deficiencies and more have been fixed, to the tune of about $70,000. When I am dead and gone, somebody will walk in and spout, "They don't build them like they used to."
Nope, my 95 yr old house does not use sandbags and debris for foundation, like homes built nowadays. I seen construction processes nowadays and it makes me sick. 5 year old subdivisions outside my city looks run down and those homes are falling apart. Make sure the house is from 1970 or older for quality
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Old 03-28-2021, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Berkeley Neighborhood, Denver, CO USA
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Houses built between 1900-1920 in my neighborhood were junk.
That is one of the reasons that they are being scraped.
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