Friday, July 3, 2009

The high cost of cheap construction

From the Wall Street Journal:

...hundreds of thousands of people from California to Georgia say their almost-new homes need costly repairs because of construction defects. The furious pace of home building from the late 1990s through the first half of the 2000s contributed to a surge in defects, experts say. It caused shortages of both skilled construction workers and quality materials. Many municipalities also fell behind inspecting and certifying new homes.

At the height of the boom in 2005, more than two million houses were built in the U.S., according to the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group. Criterium Engineers, a national building-inspection firm, estimates that 17% of newly constructed houses built in 2006 had at least two significant defects, up from 15% in 2003.

15 comments:

faster340 said...

I believe it, the houses today are built like crap.

My father was a 3 generation home builder/carpenter on Long Island. At his funeral in 1998 a man came to me whom I didn't know. He tells me I came to pay respects to your father who built my house. It is the most solid house he had ever owned. It had not settled one bit and the quality of the build is beyond compare and it's a shame that this business has lost such a quality craftsman.

And he wasn't the only one who came and mentioned something like this. I was so proud of hearing these things...

Today people don't care about quality and pride in their work. Only the almighty dollar and how fast/cheap it can get done. It's very sad....

italian girl said...

Is anyone surprised?
Chances are if a builder(planning to sell) was building, it was built like crap. If an owner(planning to live there) was building, it was built the right way.

Building on Your Head Party said...

We salute this excellent example of providing continued employment in construction trades and emergency services.

Anonymous said...

Far worse than the post WW II era's building boom...i.e. Levitt Town's cheap construction.

At least these cookie cutter houses weren't defective.

Give me a pre-war any day.

Missing Foundation said...

Folks this is intentional.

Why spend a month (and a fortune in black powder) to level the walls of something built to withstand war and siege?

We are moving from homes "built to live in to those built to sell":

like Japan, where a home is built for 30 years, and every new homeowner knocks down their purchase for their own home.

There its a private house of rice paper and balsa.

Here its five story stucco barracks in a dirty city and rough climate.

The perfect presciption for a budding ghetto or a North American third world slum in the making.

Erik Baard said...

I was at a Green Depot presentation and one assertion stunned me: demolition companies used to competitively bid to tear down buildings. That's right, they'd pay owners to tear down buildings because the materials were so valuable for reuse! My mother's house was largely constructed of materials gathered from demolitions by the original owner, a Polish immigrant contractor. Such a solid little house! Today, buildings end up in landfill.

But for a refreshing change, check out the great work of the Flux Factory artists collective when they open their doors in late summer or early autumn. They're preserving the solid stone industrial LIC building they now call home.

-Joe said...

All the new houses on Shelter Rock Road are falling apart the same way.
Cracked walls, sinking floors, you cant open doors and windows.
To add these are running springs in the basements and they ALL smell like musty swamps. They cost a fortune to heat and cool (little insulation)

The builders all split back to Greece

Anonymous said...

faster340. I agree with every word you wrote, and I can't think of a thing to add except God Bless your father and his generation. They had a solid work ethic and immeasurable pride in what they built.
I am willing to bet that your father was like mine, in that he probably occasionally drove past the houses/buildings he constructed , and silently beamed with pride.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Totally foreseeable. This will be happening all across New York in the next decade. It will be Bloomberg's legacy.

PizzaBagel said...

Missing Foundation said:

Folks this is intentional.

Why spend a month (and a fortune in black powder) to level the walls of something built to withstand war and siege?

We are moving from homes "built to live in to those built to sell":

like Japan, where a home is built for 30 years, and every new homeowner knocks down their purchase for their own home.

There its a private house of rice paper and balsa.

Here its five story stucco barracks in a dirty city and rough climate.

The perfect presciption for a budding ghetto or a North American third world slum in the making.

-----------------------------------

This brought to mind a line by Groucho Marx, in the Marx Brothers’ first film, "The Cocoanuts": "You can have any kind of a home you want. You can even get stucco. Oh, how you can get stucco."

Anonymous said...

As a real estate agent north of the city, this is my experience also. I find myself more and more suspicious of any home built since, say, 2000. We saw a 5000 sq. ft. house built in the early 2000s with mold coming through the ceiling of the two-story atrium style front entrance. (This house is in a short sale situation.)

My guess is that much of the difficulty comes when you hire people from the sidewalk and pay them in cash per diem, instead of having regular employees and a relatively secure income.

Anonymous said...

Levitt Town [sic - Levittown?] was actually not that cheap.

And rice paper and balsa houses in Japan? Really, Missing A'Brain? Please educate us further with all your authoritative and wordly knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Levittown was cheap. From LI Exchange:

"He proposed to his father and brother that Levitt & Sons divide the former potato field into small lots and build simple, inexpensive mass-produced homes for veterans and their families."

Anonymous said...

Read up on Traditional Japanese architecture.

Anonymous said...

i just want to build something livable , but can t because there are so many restriction and codes , there is almost no way to save any money from what it would cost to just buy a house already built ,, am not even sure anymore if i want to own a house