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Old 12-14-2016, 11:28 AM
partndn partndn is offline
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Default New Home Constr these days surprises me (poor quality)



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For the last ten years or so, I have often had several jobs at a time, or a job with one on the side, etc. Just the nature of the economy and trying to get by.

Right now, I have been helping a crew that cleans homes, occasionally residents' homes, but most often, cleaning new construction homes to get them ready for owners to move in. Small company, nice owners, do a better than normal very detailed job.

So, over the last couple months I've seen new homes built by several different builders. These are not what you would call mass development average homes. They are custom and mid to upper end nice places.

I'm surprised at the poor quality of both materials and workmanship (kinda sad to call it "workmanship") that I've seen.

I do not intend to personally insult anyone here that makes their living as a builder or contractor. I also don't intend to offend anyone who lives in a new home or such. Hope nobody takes it as a bashing against an entire group. I'm just putting some observations and ponderings here that are my own. To each his own, and maybe I'm not normal in my expectations. Nothing wrong with different views.
I'm fully aware that there are quality "new" things out there somewhere. I just thought that the higher end homes would reveal some of that. But it appears, at least around here, it is more rare that I thought.

Around here, you can buy a basic new home in a quickly put together development for anywhere from 150k to 350k. You have to expect in the speed these things go from forest or pasture to housing with bermed up landscaping and cookie cutter homes, quality may not be first on the list of priorities. You could not give me one of these places.

With the higher priced custom homes I've been seeing lately, I expected more time and quality. But it's really just the same **** with a higher price tag.
Often, the doors are not sanded properly, matter of fact, pretty much all wood surfaces not sanded properly.
Wood trim is basically sawdust grade.
The paint looks like 3rd grade kids could do as well, barely covering the wood and sometimes not at all.
And the carpet OMG, I thought technology would have come farther with materials that are lasting. This stuff sheds and shreds little pieces you can just pull with your fingers, it comes right out. How long will that get vacuumed before it dissolves? And the installers miss attaching edges and corners.
High end marble or granite countertops with uneven sealant.
Entry way thresholds that sink when you step on them.
Corner trims that don't meet properly, just caulk in there and call it good.
Cabinet doors and drawers that self shut. Those tracks are not that great. They look fancy when empty and playing with them. But we remove them all, shop vac and then wipe to remove all dust, so I've seen how they work up close. Fill them with stuff, and add a few kids who aren't careful, and I don't see them lasting long.

I could go on, but basically, you get the idea.
I think maybe there's too many people involved. They don't communicate well, and they don't care, as long as "their part" is completed... whatever that means.
The trim installer isn't going to paint, so why should he care if the surfaces are suitable? The painters just paint, so who cares if it's not sanded properly, as long as it gets covered with paint? etc. etc.

But hey! It passed the gov inspection guidelines, so it must be awesome, right?!

Used to be, when I was young, there were a couple builders around here that you knew would build a home right. They've passed away or retired now. One's family still is in business, but is not the same. Competition from big conglomerate builders shut them out or they sacrifice both quality and profit.

I think it's a parallel to the general evolution of how things are these days in many other areas as well. You just can't find good "stuff" anymore.

I know I'm biased as the home I grew up in was built in 1965 and to this day, you can't find a nail that isn't properly seated, a hinge that isn't solid, or any other flaw in craftsmanship. Both of the only 2 homes I've ever owned were built in 1923.

I don't think these new places will last 50 years, even with 7 digit price tags. Do you? I've never desired a new home. I wish I had more land, but I am grateful for the structure I have. I don't envy young people looking to set roots and raise a family these days. The largest investment they will probably ever make looks very unstable to me.

Is quality building that hard to find? or is it maybe just my area? What do y'all see in your areas?
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Old 12-14-2016, 11:51 AM
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I was having this conversation last night with my father in law and my dad.

My son and I do garage doors and we did a lot of new construction last year.

What ever happened to gable end vents?

The vents they put on the roof have to be shoveled off when it snows or you have water leaking in.

Electrical is a joke,lights go out in the garage on this one job we had,GFI tripped in the upstairs bathroom.

We bought a new house in '04 ,roof leaked,the house shook in a moderate breeze,found out the sheeting wasn't stapled to the trusses ,no lateral bracing.
No lateral bracing for the garage either,header moved when we would run the door up and down.
Our bedroom was always cold.
The air exchanger dump cold air into the basement.
The basement was plumbed for a bathroom,great! Only problem was they put a regular sump pump in instead of a waste pump,real fun to change out.

Fart fan vent went straight up to the peak and it was that flex vent junk,so condensate was a problem there .
174,000.00 junk.
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Old 12-14-2016, 11:55 AM
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I have seen ten year old "high end " homes that are falling apart now.

Anything 70's and older are still structurally sound.

I have seen concrete poured with no prep work other than scraping and leveling on sand,no rebar,no drainage.

Hey the place looks nice though!
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:10 PM
partndn partndn is offline
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Good beer, so sounds like I'm not the only one observing this.

Yesterday, we tripped the breaker with nothing going on in the house, except 2 vacuums. Not in the same room, just both upstairs of a 5k sq ft home.

Was at one last week where the windows had water INSIDE. Condensation dripping and puddling onto the sill and in the tracks. And the basement could not be finished until the upstairs master area water leak was identified. Ugh. Nobody even lives in it yet, and there's already water leak effecting 2 floors.

And drainage, yeah. The whole lay of the lot sometimes shows you there is going to be water issues. Where is the common sense? Obviously not in the "codes" that are laughably supposed to guard against homeowners being in unsafe environments. LOL Thank you, mr. gov, for looking out for us
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:10 PM
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New construction nowdays makes a house a poor investment,especially longterm.

What good is a permit and inspections?
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by partndn View Post
Good beer, so sounds like I'm not the only one observing this.

Yesterday, we tripped the breaker with nothing going on in the house, except 2 vacuums. Not in the same room, just both upstairs of a 5k sq ft home.

Was at one last week where the windows had water INSIDE. Condensation dripping and puddling onto the sill and in the tracks.

And drainage, yeah. The whole lay of the lot sometimes shows you there is going to be water issues. Where is the common sense? Obviously not in the "codes" that are laughably supposed to guard against homeowners being in unsafe environments. LOL Thank you, mr. gov, for looking out for us
One of my favorite gripes,I wouldn't be surprised if half the upstairs is on one breaker and of course there are the obligatory garbage gfi outlets.

I had to relandscape my yard because the builders father did the work,a river ran through it.
We had the same problem with water pooling from condensation too on all the windows,stopped that with a wood stove in the basement.

Our houses now days dont breath properly.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:52 PM
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I've had to replace or fix all of the windows in my 15 year old house. Plus a lot of fixing things that weren't done right in the first couple of years to avoid long term problems.

The builder we used has a good reputation for building solid houses, but the finish work and some of the contractor grade items (like cheap windows and doors), weren't good.

I've found it better to buy much better quality and install it myself rather then pay them more for one step up grade.
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Old 12-14-2016, 01:28 PM
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Bought my house almost new. Had a previous owner that lived in it a month, his wife moved all the stuff out when he was at work, left a note and divorced him. he put it up for sale and I bought it 6 months later.

the roof was installed (in a hurricane area), with staples rather than nails. Previous owner had them replace the entire roof. When my inspector went into the attic, he called me up there and showed me that the 2 furnace flu pilpes and the 2 hot water heater flu pipes were all disconnected, venting straight into the attic.

I fixed those myself.

Then the water lines feeding the 2 main hot water heaters and the one in the outside cabana all burst within a year.

the brick work just has no aesthetic appeal.

The main living room and kitchen lights have 1 single switch. Usually you have one at each room entry/exit.

Several wall switches had loose wires. the light would quit working and when I opened the switch up, it was completely loose.

The threshold door seal/sweeps did not seal, and was letting in all manner of bugs. Fixed that.

there were no attic vent fans and wholly inadequate attic ventalation. I installed attic vans and fixed that.

Crazy GFCI configuration as someone said earlier. Once it was an upstairs GFCI that was somehow influencing a GFCI breaker in the main panel that was cutting power to another GFCI circuit in the downstairs bath.

The glass shower door hinge failed after a couple years. It just broke. Man those things ain't cheap. Put a new one on.

Went to change the furnace filters in the attic. The door could not be removed on 1 because it was installed next to a giant load bearing beam. They had to relocate the furnace.

There is a spot upstairs where there is no floor under the carpet. Just a little hole your foot steps into.

There is no provision to install water softener.

The huge kitchen had almost no pantry space. I guess storage doesn't add to house value.

There was no light switch to turn on the cabana deck lights from the house. You had to go out there, unlock the door and flip the lights.

There are a few light fixtures that are so high, I have no idea how to change the bulbs. Might need to call Spiderman or Mr. Fantastic.

they just don't care.
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Old 12-14-2016, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Good beer View Post

What good is a permit and inspections?
You need to remember that the Building Code is a ridiculous, bare minimum and that the Inspectors can't force anyone to build anything more than that.

In Kentucky, they took the "Workmanship" provision out of the Residential Building Code about 8 years ago.
That left a lot of really crappy work getting passed.
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Old 12-14-2016, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by partndn View Post
New Home Constr these days surprises me (poor quality)
Why?..........
Old 12-14-2016, 02:29 PM
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The poor building quality of many homes in a 90s neighborhood I'm familiar with surprised me. The houses appear nice on the outside. Inside I've come to learn, a lot of corners were cut. Quality of work was poor. It does make me wonder about, not only the builders but also what happened with the building inspectors.

I moved into a place originally built in the late 70s. It was modernized. So far no complaints. Everything has been solid in the house.
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Old 12-14-2016, 02:35 PM
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Almost forgot. All houses seem to use cheap door locks on the front and back doors. Short screws and a lock so easy to pick anyone can do it.
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Old 12-14-2016, 02:58 PM
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In 2009 as the housing bust was really starting to hit, I saw several houses that were over run with psocids. The wood being used for the frames had sat out to long and had pocket rot and mildew. The psocids were feeding on the fungus. I saw this multiple times with different builders. I could not tell the homeowners what was really going on because the company I worked for depended on keeping the builders happy. The homeowners were going to have a gray dust of dead insects coating the inside of their home for months, and the wood in their frame was garbage.
Old 12-14-2016, 03:17 PM
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I used to do drywall and plaster many years ago. We took pride in our work. Then I moved to a union area, had to join the painters union to do drywall and plaster.
Never have I seen such ****ty work performed. When I asked, I was told to shut up and do it 'this" way, or lose my job.

I quit.
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Old 12-14-2016, 03:17 PM
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Prior to the housing market crash in 07, I had been doing a good amount of new construction. The guy I worked with was very OCD like me, so it worked out very well for us both. Around 05-06 just about anyone with a hammer got into the game as banks were handling out construction loans like Halloween candy. What came from that was a ton of houses that I wouldn't spend a night in.

Personally, I don't intend to ever live in another house that I haven't built. The things I've seen too often aren't worth the risk.
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Old 12-14-2016, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Good beer View Post
Electrical is a joke,lights go out in the garage on this one job we had,GFI tripped in the upstairs bathroom.
That is a straight up code violation. Bathroom GFI circuits are supposed to feed bathroom GFI's -only-... or (more common practice) one circuit per bath that is allowed to feed both lights and GFI, but nothing outside that room.

But inspectors don't have time to trace all the wires. They basically just look to see that it's neat.
Old 12-14-2016, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Good beer View Post
I was having this conversation last night with my father in law and my dad.

My son and I do garage doors and we did a lot of new construction last year.

What ever happened to gable end vents?
Gable-end vents are generally unnecessary if the soffit and ridge vents are properly sized.

Quote:
The vents they put on the roof have to be shoveled off when it snows or you have water leaking in.
What kind of vents are they using?

I agree with most of the rest of what you said. Lots of hacks out there. Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be a big problem where I live...yet.
Old 12-14-2016, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snidelywhiplash View Post
Gable-end vents are generally unnecessary if the soffit and ridge vents are properly sized.



What kind of vents are they using?

I agree with most of the rest of what you said. Lots of hacks out there. Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be a big problem where I live...yet.
Soffit vents and the little roof vents that snow will cover up and get into.
Old 12-14-2016, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoFlyZone View Post
You need to remember that the Building Code is a ridiculous, bare minimum and that the Inspectors can't force anyone to build anything more than that.

In Kentucky, they took the "Workmanship" provision out of the Residential Building Code about 8 years ago.
That left a lot of really crappy work getting passed.
I am not one to be in favor of all the restrictions. As in, I wish we individuals were more free to build what we want to as long as we're not asking anyone to insure it. But if they are going to be in place, it seems so stupid that the rules don't serve any purpose.

Maybe there should be codes and standard to meet for builders who are selling homes. But not so much for private citizens who want to diy and/or combine with small contractor experts.
Old 12-14-2016, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by da_wanderer View Post
In 2009 as the housing bust was really starting to hit, I saw several houses that were over run with psocids. The wood being used for the frames had sat out to long and had pocket rot and mildew. The psocids were feeding on the fungus. I saw this multiple times with different builders. I could not tell the homeowners what was really going on because the company I worked for depended on keeping the builders happy. The homeowners were going to have a gray dust of dead insects coating the inside of their home for months, and the wood in their frame was garbage.
Eww. I hope you didn't stay in that work too long. Income is vital, but sometimes, it's not worth what you have to put up with in your conscience.

eta: I think your note of the timeline is key too. Prior to the bust, so many companies could stay busy and make money and have a great time. Along with that came sacrificing time. Hurry, today's world wants everything immediately. blah blah blah. Habits were formed and expectations changed for the industry.
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