Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Problems in newly-built homes

In the July 14, 2006 issue of the City Paper, an article by Don McGonagil caught my attention:

Dealing with problems in newly-built homes

"Industry estimates claim that nearly 85 percent of all new homes have defects, and 15 percent of these homes may have serious problems, including faulty foundations, dangerous moisture intrusion and inadequate framing. Often these problems show up months or even years after the buyer has moved in and the builder has moved on. Many of these new starter castles will be lucky to survive their mortgage.

Experts say the fast pace of construction is a cause. They point to several other contributing factors.

Builders are under pressure to keep costs down so homes are affordable and profitable. Demands for energy efficiency and environmentally-sound products mean that homes today are more complicated to build. Qualified laborers and quality materials are sometimes in short supply. Most homes are still manufactured on the building site, with contractors continually challenged by the weather even on the best of days."

Here in the West Meade area, we are seeing a lot of tear downs of 1500 sq ft. ranch homes replaced with two story, three SUV garages with massive master bedrooms. I am amazed how quick these homes quickly go up. One house on our street sold for $818,000 in a neighborhood where the older homes are valued at $200 to $250 K.

Here is one on Bresslyn Road that just went on the market for.... $1,475,000. (pool not included) on a .98 acre lot, five bedrooms and 5503 sq footage.

This one on Vosswood Drive is going for $850,000 with three bedrooms, a 1.04 acre lot and 4003 sq footage.

We sit around with our neighbors and shoot the breeze about selling our homes, but to give up our large one acre backyards, pay off the mortgage and try to find something equivalent of size and quality would drive our $200 K home to a price tag of $400 K in the city.

Probably best to hang on to what you have.

Another thing that bothers me is seeing homes built on TV like ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Makeover is the seven day speed build. Surely, as the City Paper article refers to is the suspect quality and finish of the home. Of course with the obnoxious Ty Pennington screaming in my earshot with that bullhorn, I'd want to get the heck of there myself.

I watch my fair share of HGTV and DIY. Many of the remodel jobs are always done on a three day turn and some of the construction techniques are suspect. The crew of guys on This Old House seem to have their act together and their passion for craftsmanship is evident.

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