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Design Life of Homes??

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
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25
They're all balloon frame houses with (mostly) cheap cladding designed to look like something else. When the facade isn't cheap (and sometimes even when it is), its primary purpose is to hide the fact that the house is a balloon frame.

Standard tract housing fare.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
How long have you been in the construction industry? Where can I find examples of homes that are not "cheaply built"? Would "cheaply built" - according to your standards- apply to 90-95% of all homes built in the North America in the last 100 years?

I think you toss these comments out without ever having made a mortgage payment, or perhaps even a rent payment. Perhaps it is homes like these, and the majority of the homes built in the last century that have kept you from living in a five floor walk up with four generations of family stuffed inside with you.
:)
 
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SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
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1,244
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Having traveled to the former Soviet Union and studying the Russian language in high school and college, I am suprised at the photos Dan has posted. As he stated, most housing was and still is in high rise apartments with no architectural detail or amenities for the residents. The dachas are summer homes for them to use on the weekend. With the downfall of communism, a free for all ensued and some have made it successful, but many have not. If you were to ask me where those photos were taken that Dan posted, I never would have said the former USSR. Kind of makes me want to go back and see what has changed in the last 15 years.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
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25
el Guapo said:
How long have you been in the construction industry?
Not at all, although I was one of a group of five that built a house a few years ago. I guess that dosen't qualify me to determine what is baloon frame or not. That stucco looks just like pueblo. I just can't tell!

Where can I find examples of homes that are not "cheaply built"?
I live in a city full of them. My own "home" is in an 87 year old structural brick building.

Would "cheaply built" - according to your standards- apply to 90-95% of all homes built in the North America in the last 100 years?
Very good.

I think you toss these comments out without ever having made a mortgage payment, or perhaps even a rent payment.
My landlord hasn't evicted me yet so ether the payments are getting made or he's a hell of a nice guy. The money must come via winged monkey at night as I sleep because I'm sure not on daddy's dime.

Perhaps it is homes like these, and the majority of the homes built in the last century that have kept you from living in a five floor walk up with four generations of family stuffed inside with you.
:)
I have no doubt that tract housing contributed somewhat to slum abatement, but that dosen't change the fact that it's cheap.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
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34
jordanb said:
They're all balloon frame houses with (mostly) cheap cladding designed to look like something else. When the facade isn't cheap (and sometimes even when it is), its primary purpose is to hide the fact that the house is a balloon frame.

Standard tract housing fare.
Ballon frame means that there are no vertical fire stops in the walls between the horizontal beams. Again, how can you tell. Perhaps you mean stick built. So you must be super-human to know they are ballooon.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
jordanb said:
They're all balloon frame houses with (mostly) cheap cladding designed to look like something else. .
You know I've been in the fire service for 7 years now, and can attest that the houses that burn the fastest are those built of balloon-frame.

Problem is, you can never tell which houses are built this way unless you study the architecturals for every development in your local. Those with alot more experience in the fire service and in building construction still have difficult times in identifying balloon construction in their building size ups. You do it by looking at a picture. I suggest you contact Tom Brannigan, author of "Building Construction for the Fire Service" and Chief Vince Dunn of the FDNY. You are probably the last link in solving the ever evolving building construciton puzzle they have been seeking for 20+ years.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
Jordan
Well done. You have me on the ropes.

So, every box that houses people should be expensive to construct, use the finest materials, and should meet your visual standards otherwise it is "cheap"? Giving people a home they can afford and be proud of is a "cheap" thing?

My point is; you seem to be awfully easy with an opinion on the work of others. The majority of these opinions seem to be derisive at best. It must be nice to have all the confidence of youth without much experience to add some hesitation or consideration.

P.S - How many Linux geeks share that brick well-made abode with you? Are the dishes done by the looser of the last D&D tourney? Opps - that was judgemental of me. Damn. Sorry. I take it back. :)
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
There are thirteen buildings in that set. Six are sided in brick or wood. Two more use a stucco material. Several have metal or possibly tile roofs. Note the use of brick pavers on several drives and walks, particularly the multi-family units. Those are not "cheap" materials. I would guess that the second "log" structure is likely timber frame. I would gladly take many of these buildings in my city.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
sounds like someone is taking things a little to personal like -

well, i can tell you why they probably are balloon-frame. Because it's mostly Canadian and American developers who are over there building them. They're lobbying hard for the adoption of american building standards (and materials) and since they're dominating the market right now local builders have to use the same techniques and materials or go out of business.

It would be great if a housing boom in Russia would spread some wealth around but i think it's obvious - with much of the profit coming home to the US, Canada, and the EU - at this point that it's not going to happen.



WOOD-FRAME ROW HOUSING IN TVER. RUSSIA, WITH ATTACHED GARAGES, CONSTRUCTED WITH LARGE MASONRY BLOCKS.

The Codes Centre provided the Russian Federation for Construction, Architectural and Housing Policy (GOSSTROI of Russia) with the National Housing Code of Canada 1998 and Illustrated Guide (NHCIG) to use as a model in the development of their codes. The Russians subsequently developed a first code based on the NHCIG, without specifying a particular type of construction. Technical advisors from the Codes Centre and CCMC have reviewed a draft of this code and, in the future, will review a second code, now being developed, which will provide requirements for the design and construction of light-frame housing based on Canadian wood-frame construction technology.


While there are many differences between Russian and Canadian approaches to housing construction, the sound technical information provided by IRC has convinced Russian construction specialists that Canadian housing construction practices are safe and of high quality.

To facilitate the acceptance of Canadian building products in Russia, CCMC is coordinating an initiative aimed at reducing trade barriers to Canadian products in the Russian marketplace. A model agreement that will provide mechanisms to gain acceptance for Canadian housing technologies in Russia has been drafted. As part of the effort to create these mechanisms, a Russian delegation recently visited several Canadian laboratories to assess their quality and capacity to perform tests to either Canadian or Russian standards.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Tranplanner said:
THOSE DAMN CANUCKS!!!!
at least canadians and russians have something in common - latitude.



el Guapo said:
Giving people a home they can afford and be proud of is a "cheap" thing?
The first problem with that is that you're not "giving" people anything. They're paying a lot of money for it, in many cases way too much money for it.

The second problem is the assumption that it makes economic sense to buy a house with a design life of 20-30 years. It insures that every generation has to start anew the process of buying a first/new home. In the long run there's really nothing affordable about 'temporary' housing. I'd be more than proud to take possession of a house that's been in the family for several generations.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,473
Points
44
jordanb said:
They're all balloon frame houses with (mostly) cheap cladding designed to look like something else.
Did you intend to say Stick Built?

The apartment *that I am soon going to move out of* is a stick built structure from the early 60. It has a real brick facade, but the inside is cookie cutter, and very cheep. I do not think that there is any insulation in any of the interior walls. I can hear everything my neighbor says.

The place that I am moving to, is 125 years old, it is a renovated row home in an historic district. The wood work alone *floors and trim, are enough to make the move worth it. OH and I have a deck, and it is still $70 cheaper!
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
jresta said:
The second problem is the assumption that it makes economic sense to buy a house with a design life of 20-30 years.
Where do people get the idea that houses are only designed to last 20-30 years? The techniques used to construct houses today are not dramatically different than those of a hundred or more years ago. A couple things are, though.

We now have building codes that are much more stringent, and prohibit the kinds of shortcuts that you might find in older homes. The stone foundation in the home I live in is very inferior to a new concrete foundation. It would also have helped to keep the walls plumb if the builder had used headers and cripples in the wall openings. You would not get away with those today.

The other thing that has changed is materials. The framing done today is just as good as in the past, but now we have engineered materials which structurally outperform the materials of a hundred years ago while simultaneously being far more resistant to rot and insects. Are they better than three courses of brick? Take a look at a lot of those Chicago two- and three-flats and you will find the inner courses crumbling. They used cheap materials back then. Do we do that now? Yes, but the cheap materials we use are on the facade. A building may have vinyl siding or cultured stone. These are not made to last forever. Maybe it will be twenty years or maybe forty years, but the owner may have to, or simply want to re-face the home. So what? The structure will still be sound.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
Points
25
Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
The other thing that has changed is materials. The framing done today is just as good as in the past, but now we have engineered materials which structurally outperform the materials of a hundred years ago while simultaneously being far more resistant to rot and insects.
Have you seen twenty year old chipwood? How about twenty year old sheetrock? Especially in damp environments..

Are they better than three courses of brick? Take a look at a lot of those Chicago two- and three-flats and you will find the inner courses crumbling.


So some buildings originally built as tenements a hundered years ago that have recieved no maintence in 40 years and probably have been seriously abused are in need of a refurb. Treat a tract house like that and see if it's still even standing. Not to mention that many of those buildings are still in fine shape.

They used cheap materials back then. Do we do that now? Yes, but the cheap materials we use are on the facade. A building may have vinyl siding or cultured stone. These are not made to last forever. Maybe it will be twenty years or maybe forty years, but the owner may have to, or simply want to re-face the home. So what? The structure will still be sound.
Now they're making floor joices out of chipwood. How long do you think those things are going to last in dank basements? How do you re-floor-joice a house without nocking it down?
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
Points
25
Mike D. said:
You know I've been in the fire service for 7 years now, and can attest that the houses that burn the fastest are those built of balloon-frame.
I'm suprised by that. Modern balloon frame buildings do not have any verticle cavities taller than a floor. On the house that I built, (and this appears to be standard fare) we put a peice of wood across the top and bottom of every line of studs, so once the cladding was on every space between every stud in the wall was its own airtight compartment (save a few holes drilled for utilities). On taller walls, we nailed boards in between the studs to make sure no cavity too tall. Combined that with fire resistant building materials like fiberglass insulation, and I'd think a balloon frame wouldn't be any more condusive to burining than any other type of wood construction.

Problem is, you can never tell which houses are built this way unless you study the architecturals for every development in your local.
Since nearly every tract house in the country is balloon frame, it's usually a pretty good guess.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
Points
25
michaelskis said:
Did you intend to say Stick Built?
What's the difference?

I think people here are under the assumption thatballoon frame implies tall verticle cavities (as original balloon frame buildings had), and that if those cavities are blocked, it becomes something else. That's counter to every definition of balloon frame I've ever seen.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
jordanb said:
Have you seen twenty year old chipwood? How about twenty year old sheetrock? Especially in damp environments..
I have seen fifty year old sheet rock in excellent condition, and ten year old plaster that is crumbling. Define "chipwood." There are dozens of products made from wood particles, engineered differently and intended for vastly divergent purposes. Any material used incorrectly will have problems, but used for the purpose for which it was designed, will be fine.

So some buildings originally built as tenements a hundered years ago that have recieved no maintence in 40 years and probably have been seriously abused are in need of a refurb. Treat a tract house like that and see if it's still even standing. Not to mention that many of those buildings are still in fine shape.
I can speak to the home owned by my grandparents, a nice two-flat on the northwest, in a good neighborhood near the river. It was no tenament and always well maintained. Still, it used a face brick on the outside with courses of softer brick behind it, as is the case with a majority of Chicago's brick homes. The inner brick needed constant attention to keep it from crumbling.

Now they're making floor joices out of chipwood. How long do you think those things are going to last in dank basements? How do you re-floor-joice a house without nocking it down? [/B]
I assume you mean joists? And "chipwood again? Are you referring to the engineered I-beams made from wood particles and resins or the kind made with wood plys? In either case, these have structural qualities far superior to solid wood joists, and treatments (as I mentioned befor) that make them resistant to rot and insects. Also, a new home will incorporate many other construction practices that significantly reduce the liklihood of the basement being damp in the first place.

Yes, I have replaced floor joists without knocking down the house. I replaced the 2x10 sill and two joists under a bathroom. They were solid wood from perhaps fifty years ago, and completely rotted. I also replaced a 24-foot, 6x6 sill and several wall joists on one of my barns, which was also completely rotten. I used pressure-treated wood which will last at least as long.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
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5,407
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32
Balloon frame = Stick built.

So 99 % of homes built after 1850 are balloon frame

and because they are balloon frame they must be cheaply built and will only last 20 years. I am puzzled as to why there are so many 100+ Y/O house around in great condition.
 

donk

Cyburbian
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6,970
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On the "balloon frame" vs "stick built", I am not sure what you mean by balloon frame, but what you describe is what we consider "stick built" Hope that makes sense and helps you out.


On the house that I built, (and this appears to be standard fare) we put a peice of wood across the top and bottom of every line of studs,
These are typically refered to as "plates" (top or bottom, depending on location on the stud) at least that is what my inspector just told me. It helps to use the correct language.

Now they're making floor joices out of chipwood. How long do you think those things are going to last in dank basements? How do you re-floor-joice a house without nocking it down?
if you have a wet dank basement you'll have other problems alot sooner then rotten floor joists. I too have had the joy of replacing sills (the piece that you nail your walls/studs to that is bolted to your foundation) and floor joists. Not an easy job to do, but you don't have to knock the building down. Jack, support, cut, punch out, reinstall, level, lower, repeat.

On the air tight thing, while good for energy efficiency, not really good for the structure. Buildings like people need to breathe (hence tyvek wrapping) and sweat. If the building is air tight (al R2000) you need to force air through the structure or you'll most likely end up with a "sick" house and residents.
 

donk

Cyburbian
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6,970
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OT but somewhat related

I was writing my reply to previous comments as giff 57 wrote

So 99 % of homes built after 1850 are balloon frame
I happen to live in and be renovating in that 1%. My place is a plank house with solid wood walls, built 1870-1880. i ended up having to frame in the interior to get some insulation into them and have something to affix the new dry wall to.

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2239&password=&sort=1&cat=500&page=2

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2238&password=&sort=1&cat=500&page=2

these boards are pegged together and caulked with old cotton/wool shirts, pants whatever and rope.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
jresta said:
The second problem is the assumption that it makes economic sense to buy a house with a design life of 20-30 years.
We are not talking single-wide trailers. Where the hell do you come up with 20-30 years? A code built stick home will last just as long as the owner maintains it. Just like damn near every other home. Maintain it and it will last. It would be funny, if it wasn't so sad...

Is the stick home the next SUV-rage?

And the over-charging for homes by builders part of your post - well, that's straight out of the little red book of manifestos.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
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1,474
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23
el Guapo said:
And the over-charging for homes by builders part of your post - well, that's straight out of the little red book of manifestos.
actually, tough guy, i didn't say anything about being over-charged and i didn't say anything about builders.
but thanks for playin'.
I was referring to the general cost of real estate and how it it's not really "affordable" at all (at least for a large swath of the country). I don't know anything about red books but i do know that i'd like to inherit a house that didn't need a $60k rehab. What was that about repealing the death tax? yeah, sounds commie to me.

and where did i come up with "a design life of 20-30 years" . . .
just because a building has a design life of 20-30 years doesn't mean that in 20-30 years it will fall down. It means that when it was designed there was no expectation that the house would be around much longer than 30 years so the appropriate materials and layout was employed.

It's great that modern houses have solid foundations but when you have to completely replace large portions of the house every other decade or so i would say it wasn't designed for a very long life and it sure as hell ain't cheap. It's not like every time you replace your roof you gain equity.

We have wood frame houses all over that are 150-200 years old - but that doesn't mean that any part of the house is original. wood has never been a very durable material but we build with it because it has been, and still is, abundant and cheap.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
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jresta said:

We have wood frame houses all over that are 150-200 years old - but that doesn't mean that any part of the house is original. wood has never been a very durable material
WTF?
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
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29
By jresta

"actually, tough guy, i didn't say anything about being over-charged and i didn't say anything about builders.
but thanks for playin'."

."..and where did i come up with "a design life of 20-30 years"

The first problem with that is that you're not "giving" people anything. They're paying a lot of money for it, in many cases way too much money for it.

"The second problem is the assumption that it makes economic sense to buy a house with a design life of 20-30 years.
Damn Dude, read your own stuff.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
jresta said:
and where did i come up with "a design life of 20-30 years" . . .
just because a building has a design life of 20-30 years doesn't mean that in 20-30 years it will fall down. It means that when it was designed there was no expectation that the house would be around much longer than 30 years so the appropriate materials and layout was employed.
So you are not talking about a house falling down in 30 years, you mean that it is not meant to be there. Huh? In either case the argument remains the same. Homes are intended to last longer than 30 years, unless you think the typical home in the US is a yurt.

It's great that modern houses have solid foundations but when you have to completely replace large portions of the house every other decade or so i would say it wasn't designed for a very long life and it sure as hell ain't cheap. It's not like every time you replace your roof you gain equity.
Again, I do not know where you come up with this. I don't know of anyone who replaces large portions of their house every other decade, whether they are living in a 200-year old or a 20-year old house.

You bring up roof replacement - a maintenance item on every structure ever built. You'd prefer we used thatch? wood shingles? These are worse or no better than asphalt shingles. Maybe we should all use the material with the longest life span, metal, as is done on several of those "cheap" Russian homes.

How about another example. Let's assume that vinyl siding lasts only thirty years (it is likely to be longer). During that time there is little maintance cost. Compare that to wood that must be painted every several years or brick that may need tuck-pointing. Is there really much difference in the cost?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
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29
To me, its a toss up. Modern homes have better engineering, better structural design and better "mod cons." Old houses are generally more attractive because they use "natural materials" on their facades that are more attractive.

My problem is that, like everything else, homebuilding is laregly a mass market, repetitive industry. But, to a certain extent, we as planners and regulators are to blame for that. Lengthy approval processes, endless hearings, restrictive zoning, and environmental reports at huge costs all mean that the little indiviudal homebuilder can't as easily afford land or to work his way through the entitlement process. The big builders (US Homes, KB Homes, Centex) can. This is of course a gross generalization, and there are certainly niche home builders that are very successful. But, in heavily regulated markets like California, its the big guys-and their generic designs and lookalike homes-that build most of our new housing.

Given time, even some of the tracts will mature. There are a couple of tracts built only 20 years ago that DO illustrate all of the problems mentioned by jresta and (give him credit) jordanb. But, there were crummy slum shacks built 100 years ago, too.
 

jresta

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23
el Guapo said:
Damn Dude, read your own stuff.
ok, i wrote my own stuff and now i read my own stuff and i'm still wondering where it says-

"over-charging for homes by builders"

you can add your own interpretations, assumptions - whatever
but that's not what i wrote.

It's my opinion that $300k for a 3 bedroom house in a town with a mediocre school system is a lot of damn money. It's not specific to new construction and has nothing to do with home builders. It has to do with supply and demand not the specifics of who is buying and selling.

Is having an opinion ok with you - or should i check in next time to see if my wording will sufficiently jibe with your interpretation?
 

el Guapo

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29
jresta said:
ok, i wrote my own stuff and now i read my own stuff and i'm still wondering where it says-

"over-charging for homes by builders"

you can add your own interpretations, assumptions - whatever
but that's not what i wrote.

It's my opinion that $300k for a 3 bedroom house in a town with a mediocre school system is a lot of damn money. It's not specific to new construction and has nothing to do with home builders. It has to do with supply and demand not the specifics of who is buying and selling.

Is having an opinion ok with you - or should i check in next time to see if my wording will sufficiently jibe with your interpretation?
We can parse your comments all day if you wish - I'm having fun. Now asshole, where did I suggest you couldn't have your own opinion? I just suggested that your memory is limited and your inconsistant in your observations. Clintonize your rethoric all you wish.

PS - I call you a name only because by your calling me one first . You set the standard for our conversation. :)
 

gkmo62u

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The beauty of this debate is that no one has blamed it on Ronald Reagan who single-handedly defeated the evil empire allowing democratic elections and elements of the free-market economy




.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
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25
el Guapo said:
We can parse your comments all day if you wish - I'm having fun. Now asshole, where did I suggest you couldn't have your own opinion?
Didn't this whole thing start when you flipped out at my statement of opinion?
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
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5,984
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29
jordanb said:
Didn't this whole thing start when you flipped out at my statement of opinion?
Characterize it as flipped out, or as I like to think of it, I called you on a comment of yours that was coming out of the ozone. So I guess the answer would be, yes. And it seemed more like you were trying to state opinion as fact.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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jordanb said:
Didn't this whole thing start when you flipped out at my statement of opinion?
That started weeks ago when you registered.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
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1,474
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23
Cardinal said:
So you are not talking about a house falling down in 30 years, you mean that it is not meant to be there. Huh? In either case the argument remains the same. Homes are intended to last longer than 30 years, unless you think the typical home in the US is a yurt.
30th Street Station, Grand Central, Union Station - these are all buildings built to last for hundreds of years. They're well crafted buildings that were designed with the future in mind - does that mean they'll never be obsolete? not at all. Does it mean we should all live in grand train stations or concerty halls? not at all. What it does mean is that a building with a design life of 30 years - even 50 years is built with the intention of being replaced after a life time. After 30 years signs of decay will be apparent and the design of the building, the interior, will most likely be obsolete and in need of a major overhaul.

Gas stations and big box stores are built with a design life, generally, of 10 years. There are plenty of 20 and even 30 year-old K-Marts still out there. Generally they are in bad need of an overhaul and they are usually the stores that aren't doing as well because they're losing market share to the brand new Wal-Mart's and Targets.

The same thing goes for older houses. People aren't as interested in buying them because they want the new house with all the bells and whistles - and even people who like the charm of older houses will by-pass them for something newer because they don't want to deal with the costs of maintenance.



Again, I do not know where you come up with this. I don't know of anyone who replaces large portions of their house every other decade, whether they are living in a 200-year old or a 20-year old house.
Do you have 30 year old windows in your house that don't need to be replaced? Do you have 30 year old siding that doesn't need to be replaced? Your roof? Do you have a chimney that doesn't need to be pointed? Gutters? The plywood or particle board under your shingles and siding is still in good shape?
None of this stuff is cheap and if one had to pay for it all at once - on a planner's salary - i'd suspect they'd be headed to the bank with an open hand.


You bring up roof replacement - a maintenance item on every structure ever built. You'd prefer we used thatch? wood shingles? These are worse or no better than asphalt shingles. Maybe we should all use the material with the longest life span, metal, as is done on several of those "cheap" Russian homes.
/B]


I was just using the roof as an example of something expensive that has to be maintained to counter the notion that houses today are solid and you just buy them and take care of a little preventive maintenance and that's it.
Besides - i never said the russian houses were cheap. I happen to think they look nice. I just said they probably were balloon frame because of the influence of US and Candian builders. I also didn't say asphalt shingles were bad metal is fine, so is slate and terra cotta.
 

el Guapo

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OK, I gotta go for the weekend. I'm going to drive to the east coast and gouge the workers of the world on used generators and gasoline. See you two wacky dudes Monday. Love....
 

jresta

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el Guapo said:
We can parse your comments all day if you wish - I'm having fun. Now asshole, where did I suggest you couldn't have your own opinion? I just suggested that your memory is limited and your inconsistant in your observations. Clintonize your rethoric all you wish.

PS - I call you a name only because by your calling me one first . You set the standard for our conversation. :)
so where did i start with the name calling? stick with actual quotes and not the phantom stuff that seem to be coming from an orifice somewhere.

So, you misquoted me and suggested that i pulled the idea from some "red book" (name calling?) i called you on it. You suggested that i must've forgotten what i said - i called you on it again. You can Rush-ize your logic all you want but I don't see the problem.

p.s. - it's great having people like you around to tell me what i mean. You're even so kind as to correct me when i explain myself.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,464
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jresta: Where is your quote from?

And-is Philadelphia exempt from the blackout?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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Points
34
This is too easy...

jresta said:
30th Street Station, Grand Central, Union Station - these are all buildings built to last for hundreds of years. They're well crafted buildings that were designed with the future in mind - does that mean they'll never be obsolete? not at all. Does it mean we should all live in grand train stations or concerty halls? not at all. What it does mean is that a building with a design life of 30 years - even 50 years is built with the intention of being replaced after a life time. After 30 years signs of decay will be apparent and the design of the building, the interior, will most likely be obsolete and in need of a major overhaul.
How much of the obsolescence is a result of materials and how much is it changing fashions. You are right, we do remodel our homes. We do it often. Sometimes that means taking out walls to make larger rooms or doing other major improvements, but mostly we are simply putting on a new finish. Maybe it is updating mechanical or electrical systems. I do not see these as flaws of materials or design. If a person chose to, they could keep things the way they are and just live with a dated image. There are a few homes I have seen that do not look like they have been redecorated since the 50's.

Gas stations and big box stores are built with a design life, generally, of 10 years. There are plenty of 20 and even 30 year-old K-Marts still out there. Generally they are in bad need of an overhaul and they are usually the stores that aren't doing as well because they're losing market share to the brand new Wal-Mart's and Targets.

The same thing goes for older houses. People aren't as interested in buying them because they want the new house with all the bells and whistles - and even people who like the charm of older houses will by-pass them for something newer because they don't want to deal with the costs of maintenance.
If you are suggesting that commercial uses are designed to undergo radical transformation or replacement within a decade or two, I won't disagree. The industry changes so rapidly that it is the most economical approach for them to take. Was the issue affordability? Or do you want to price commerce out of existence by requiring a building to the standard of Penn Station?

I think you are also off the mark on people buying old houses. The most expensive homes in cities like Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago are often the old ones. People do not bypass these - they seek them out, just as others seek out new homes with bells and whistles.

Do you have 30 year old windows in your house that don't need to be replaced? Do you have 30 year old siding that doesn't need to be replaced? Your roof? Do you have a chimney that doesn't need to be pointed? Gutters? The plywood or particle board under your shingles and siding is still in good shape?
None of this stuff is cheap and if one had to pay for it all at once - on a planner's salary - i'd suspect they'd be headed to the bank with an open hand.
I was just using the roof as an example of something expensive that has to be maintained to counter the notion that houses today are solid and you just buy them and take care of a little preventive maintenance and that's it.
You hit the nail on the head. My windows, siding, and roof are all older than thirty years, which is why I have had to replace them. The new windows are far superior. I used a cement fiber siding that will last far longer than the wood (1900's), asphalt shingle (1940's) or wood (1970's) layers I found. Anyone who assumes that a home does not require extensive maintenance and periodic updating or replacement of components is not ready to own a home.

Besides - i never said the russian houses were cheap. I happen to think they look nice. I just said they probably were balloon frame because of the influence of US and Candian builders. I also didn't say asphalt shingles were bad metal is fine, so is slate and terra cotta.
I'll accept that you did not call the homes cheap.

There is a good deal of truth in BKM's comments. Natural materials are often more attractive and generally permit greater detail. It is hard to recreate the effect of wood trim when you clad a home in vinyl. At the same time, many of the newer materials are far superior in strength and wear characteristics.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
......some info.

As most of you know I work for one of the largest home builders in the country. I've never heard of anything being built with a "design life." So I asked around....nobody has ever heard of our homes (or any other builders homes) having "design lifes."
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
cardinal wrote
If you are suggesting that commercial uses are designed to undergo radical transformation or replacement within a decade or two, I won't disagree. The industry changes so rapidly that it is the most economical approach for them to take.
I am going to expand on this abit from the CDN perspective, and I assume it is similar in the states. Businesses here can amortize out a building over 20 years (taken from a nationally respected heritage planner's report), so they tend to construct buildings that need major overhauls after the 20 years. Why? because if they don't then they have a taxable asset on their hands should they dispose of it. Therefore cheap is good.

How many people think of amortizing / writing off their primary place of residence? I expect none. Plus there is no tax benefit to it here. With housing you actually want it to increase in value as quickly as possible as the gain realized at sale is not taxable income here. (minor exceptions apply)

You hit the nail on the head. My windows, siding, and roof are all older than thirty years, which is why I have had to replace them.....
The other item that frequently needs to be replaced is the electrical panel. Would you rather live in a home with a 4 fuse (paper at that) 60 amp service or a 200 amp breaker panel. I know which I would prefer and made the choice to upgrade to.
This is just changes in technology that make our lives safer and better, now I can do laundry and cook dinner at the same time, plus use electric baseboard heaters vs the giant oil furnace I had. Sometimes technology changes so that upgrades to your home are needed. Kind of like computers.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
BKM said:
jresta: Where is your quote from?

And-is Philadelphia exempt from the blackout?
which quote are you referring to?

as per your second question - I too was watching the news last night and this is why i never want to live in the New York media market again. The power goes out in New York City and all of the sudden the whole east coast is without power when in fact NYC was the ONLY major east coast city without power.

My parents never lost power and they live about 30 miles south of the city (the rest of their county was fine as well). From their estimates the extent of the power outage was about 10 miles north of them and from there maybe 15 miles west of the city.

Philly is on the PJM grid - PA, Jersey, maryland - and the guy from PJM was on the local news saying that as soon as they detected the surge going north they cut it off so only northeastern NJ and areas around Erie, PA lost power. So the other 7 million people in NJ were fine as were most people in PA and everyone in Maryland, DE, DC, VA and WV.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,150
Points
28
Mike D. said:
......some info.

As most of you know I work for one of the largest home builders in the country. I've never heard of anything being built with a "design life." So I asked around....nobody has ever heard of our homes (or any other builders homes) having "design lifes."
Mike,

I've heard the term thrown around when describing commercial developments. I'm sure most planners are familiar with the disposability of modern commercial architecture. I think there's a thread on DriVit & EIFS around here somewhere. Nevertheless, my point, and perhaps you'll agree with me, is that "design life" may be misappropriately associated with residential construction. I couldn't for the life of me believe that the HBA or Fannie Mae would use that term professionally. Now, I can see an architect using that term, but everyday construction workers and companies, no, I don't see it happening. But of course that's my opinion and I really know anything about home construction. If I was purchasing a home, I certainly would be irritated or offended by a lender giving me a 25-year mortgage for a home that has a "20-year design life." Where's the marketing in that? Where's the value in years 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25?
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
Alan said:
If I was purchasing a home, I certainly would be irritated or offended by a lender giving me a 25-year mortgage for a home that has a "20-year design life." Where's the marketing in that? Where's the value in years 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25?
You wouldn't take that deal?
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Cardinal said:
This is too easy...

How much of the obsolescence is a result of materials and how much is it changing fashions. You are right, we do remodel our homes. We do it often. Sometimes that means taking out walls to make larger rooms or doing other major improvements, but mostly we are simply putting on a new finish. Maybe it is updating mechanical or electrical systems. I do not see these as flaws of materials or design. If a person chose to, they could keep things the way they are and just live with a dated image. There are a few homes I have seen that do not look like they have been redecorated since the 50's.

If you are suggesting that commercial uses are designed to undergo radical transformation or replacement within a decade or two, I won't disagree. The industry changes so rapidly that it is the most economical approach for them to take. Was the issue affordability? Or do you want to price commerce out of existence by requiring a building to the standard of Penn Station?
This isn't about the retail industry or grand public buildings- There was just some misunderstanding over what "design life" meant so all i was doing was offering up an explanation. Since people can see it more clearly using the Grand Central/ "big-box" comparison that's what i did. This is still about housing quality.

I have certain relatives who choose to live with the dated image of which you speak. Their houses are perfectly functional in that early 70's kind of way. All i'm saying is - quality materials are not used because it's expected to be updated frequently. Call it style over substance/quality - whatever.

I understand that all housing needs maintenance but you have to admit that the houses that most of us live in need a heck of a lot of it. They're are plenty of housing types throughout history and around the world where most maintenance could/can be done by the homeowner with little more than a ladder, a trowel, and some mortar. From my own experience that's hardly the case today.

I guess my biggest concern is the assumption that cheap is better. (this isn't you specifically) Is it "cheaper" for a family over 3 generations to buy several houses for $200k or is it cheaper for them to buy one for $500k that is going to last for a few hundred years with minimal operating costs? Obviously it's not possible for a family to do this with the mortgages available today - but is "well that's just the way it's done" the best excuse for continuing to do things that way? I think it's clear from my earlier posts that i already think housing is too expensive (in most of the country) so i'm not interested in things that will make it more expensive for people trying to buy a home (or open a business)



I think you are also off the mark on people buying old houses. The most expensive homes in cities like Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago are often the old ones. People do not bypass these - they seek them out, just as others seek out new homes with bells and whistles.

You hit the nail on the head. My windows, siding, and roof are all older than thirty years, which is why I have had to replace them. The new windows are far superior. I used a cement fiber siding that will last far longer than the wood (1900's), asphalt shingle (1940's) or wood (1970's) layers I found. Anyone who assumes that a home does not require extensive maintenance and periodic updating or replacement of components is not ready to own a home.
The most expensive homes in this city (and region for that matter) are also the oldest and they're in the heart of the city.
While they're certainly out of my price range i like to think i'm part of the market that seeks out older homes. My first is on the market and i'm looking for my second - to rehab. But as half the arguments on this board revolve around "sprawl" you can't deny that the thirst for new houses is what is driving that market. I can also point out whole towns (older suburbs) that are in decline - not for crime or bad schools - but because of decaying housing stock. The political answer is quite often - "knock them down and we'll build a subdivision like they have out in (insert name of burgeoning suburban town here.)

Of course people have to be prepared for the extra costs of owning a home. It's often the biggest problem with HOPE VI projects - is that people are under the impression that they just pay their mortgage every month and that's it. When people start getting repair bills for houses less than 5 years old they start asking what they hell they got themselves into (as much from shoddy workmanship as from shoddy materials.) This situation isn't at all unique to HOPE VI or to starter homes.

So again - i would posit that "extensive maintenance and periodic updating or replacement of components" does not equal "affordable". Homes can be built to last for hundreds of (and anyone who has been around europe knows, a thousand) years with little expense beyond already cheap materials and a few hours of your own time each month. We as a people, through our financial systems and natural resource markets (cheap wood) choose not to.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Mike D. said:
......some info.
As most of you know I work for one of the largest home builders in the country. I've never heard of anything being built with a "design life." So I asked around....nobody has ever heard of our homes (or any other builders homes) having "design lifes."
Is this coming from your staff architects? I'm sure they don't toss around the word on a regular basis but id' be surprised if they couldn't tell you how long most of your houses were designed to last.

This stuff started to get hammered out 20 years ago and looks like it was standardized by ISO about 10 years ago.

it's a PDF with about 5 pages of text.

"In 1993 the standarisation work in the field when ISO/TC59/SC14/WG9, Design Life of Buildings, was launched at a meeting in Atlanta. There was a significant European initiative to establishing the standardisation group. The EUREKA umbrella project Eurocare has its strategic goal to
INCREASE THE SERVICE LIFE OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND TO DECREASE YEARLY LIFE CYCLE COSTS FOR ITS CONSERVATION, RESTORATION, AND MAINTENANCE."

http://www.vtt.fi:84/rte/wmt/coste18/seminar1_paper4.pdf
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
jresta: I meant in your signature line (the revolution quote).

You make some points, but I think you miss the lack of rootedness of Americans. I live half a continent away from where I grew up (Indiana), as do my brother and sister, so I have very little interest in a house that provides "heritage" value for children that I will personally never have. This lack of rootedness certainly creates social problems, but I have no particular love for my hometown and am happy to live in a "temporary" townhouse in California.

Do you really think that a significant majority of the population-especially the rootless, cosmopolitan middle class that buys much of the newer housing, will be any more rooted?

As for your example of a $200,000 house that's cheap versus a $500,000 one that lasts. Many "middle class" people are already priced out of urban housing markets. How many families (or single folks) that can barely afford the $200,000 tract home can even afford the $500,000 home. Admittedly, if they sacrificed the second car and all that-but a $500,000 motgage is a pretty big nut for a middle class household. Sure, everyone prefers a solid wood or solid stone house (aside from the negative environmental impacts of clear cutting the timber to provide such housing), but in a country of 300 million plus people, it JUST AIN'T AFFORDABLE ANYMORE. If our population was stagnating or declining, that's one thing.

And, I am curious as to the percentages of homeownership in urban areas in Europe. (Also-is British tract housing that superior? It all looks pretty grim to me, even if it isn't balloon frame construction).
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
BKM pondered.
And, I am curious as to the percentages of homeownership in urban areas in Europe.
Some quick searching on the net provides the following,


"Throughout the European Union, home ownership rates vary from 40 to 60 percent. " http://www.ita.doc.gov/media/Speeches/reales101599.htm

Here is the break downs for each country



http://www.rics.org.uk/resources/research/ehr_2003/page_5/page_5.html

From Pcensus on my computer, based on stats can data
For canada the rate is 66% owned. With the dominant construction period being 1970-1980, guess we should expect these homes to be falling down soon, especially since the average dwelling unit value is only $162 699 CDN.
 
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