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Problems with new construction of single family homes (SFR)

 

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Question:

Can you give your opinion on the construction quality of newer homes?

Answer:

Every buyer wants things cheap and every manufacturer wants to maximize profits. This is not going well together unless you cut corners.

End of July 2005 I visited Salt Lake City to buy some property there. I looked at new construction (completed 2005 and foreclosing already) and you won't believe how many cracks the floors in the basement had.

The realtor explained to me the steps when building
  1. dig hole for basement/ foundation
  2. pour some water in it (the ground is sandy there)
  3. let it sit for a few days
  4. pour concrete in
  5. build rest of house

Well, you guess it, step 3 frequently is eliminated and in the cold time of the year step 2 is not done properly either. (It gets real cold over there!) Any house completed in the first quarter of the year is a candidate for trouble.

I would say that in one basement room of 250 sqft I saw easily 30 cracks each running all across the room (yes meaning each crack was over 10 feet long). By the way, there's an earthquake fault in Salt Lake Valley ;-)

In such buildings, the walls have cracks too.

Other damage to this type of construction is that the stairs to the front door separate from the building structure and tend to sink. Or the driveway sinks. I'm talking about sinking 10 inches maybe. That made for a significantly higher step to the entrance, that I had to climb on that weekend. No wonder the buyer ran away (forecloses).


Similar problems with the construction in Silicon Valley. They use what contractors call 'green wood'.
After the trees are cut, they should let the wood sit somewhere and 'dry' (get hard).

Storage costs $$$ so it doesn't happen.

As a result the wood matures (terminology?) while it is built. My friend's 4 year old home has an 8 foot crack in the ceiling right under the roof. So bad, the AC was leaking up there in the attic and the water dripped on her bed.

To see the bright side, without the crack nobody would have noticed that the AC was leaking.

In contrast my place is from 1978 and has been through the '89 quake and no visible damage.

This all is the #1 reason why I stay away from too-new homes.



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