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  1. #1
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    May 2006
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    The quality of new home construction in Texas

    A friend of mine showed me some new houses being built that he sold here in Texas yesterday. I could not believe how cheap they build houses now. All these houses are in the 250 to 400K range and have like 3500 to 5000 sq. feet. They are mostly all Mexican crews (I don't have anything against Mexicans), and these guys do not really care about quality. Anyway, I should have taken my camera, but they are using this pex or pix plastic tube pipe now to do the plumbing in the houses. It is just thick wall plastic tube that they run the hot and cold water in it instead of copper pipe. It doesn't follow the ceiling joist or 2X4's on the wall at all. When it comes out into the bathroom, they use pre-formed 90-degree plastic fittings. Where it all comes together from the water line and lays on top the ceiling joist, it looks like a rats nest of crazy T-splices and what not. There are red and white colored tubes--hot & cold. The plastic tube wont break even if it freezes. It doesn't follow the ceiling joist at all. The AC ducts are all flex and they hang from the celing by special ropes. There is no square duct running anywhere in the house. All the 2X4's are finger joint. All the flooring is that press board and also the roof is the press board with a radiant barrier. The windows are all vinyl--not aluminum frame! This somehow reduces condensation, but they feel real cheap. The 2X12 floor joist for the 2nd level are not really 2X12's. They are what they call and I-beam type deal where the main part is the cheap press board sheeting turned on it's side! Then there are like these 3X3 boards on top and bottom of the press board turned on it's side. They are so cheap, but they say this reduces squeeking. There was a 4-gang switch on a wall. The boxes are still those blue plastic things with the nails on the end. This 4-gang box had some kind of cheap thin wooden support on the other side of the nails. I could easily rock it back and forth by pushing on it, and I could have easily gone right through it. The bathtube and shower floor are all preformed fiberglass crap. That is cheaper for them than having a tile floor in the shower. They are still using the U-shaped silver clamps to hold the romex to the 2X4 finger joint studs. Coming from the breaker box were the usual white romex lines, but there were also orange and yellow colored lines. I didn't get that. There is a big entertainment distribution box that has all kinds of coax lines, security alarm lines, phone lines and lines I didn't even know what they were. Anyway, man the construction is cheap. The foundation is post-tension. They still use rigid PVC for the water drain lines.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Desert Southwest
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    663
    It makes cleanup after a tornado real easy. Seriously it sounds a lot like new home construction around here too. The GC's there basically subcontract out everything and each trade is a separate sub much of the time. Framers are a sub, drywallers a sub, tapers another sub etc with much of being a cash deal.
    The problem is not with the quality of work but with what each city or county puts out as code. Many of the fly by night GC's that pay the subs promise them a certain amount and then short pay them or don't pay them at all. The ones who are illegal don't really have any recourse. The homeowner gets a low cost home and the GC makes a decent profit. The guy's who were tradesmen 20 or 30 years ago are shutout and can't compete with someone making $8 an hour framing a house.
    What I see as a worse problem is some kid fresh out of HS who can't afford college or doesn't have the desire to go and wants to get into a trade such as carpentry is screwed because the opportunity to get into the trades and make a wage he can buy a house on and raise a family is pretty much nill. Post tension foundations are pretty much mandatory in the southwest and other areas and while it increases the initial cost it all but eliminates the slab from cracking as the soil heaves especially if it is comprised of dirt/sand/clay after a good rain when it hasn't rained in a month or two.
    If you can't fix it with JB Weld, Duct Tape, and Ty Wire it has to be replaced.
    No good deed goes unpunished.
    If you want to take off friday to go fishing then make sure you train your helper right.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    French Settlement, Louisiana, United States
    Posts
    284
    All sounds normal for here. If you want it built your way that house would cost double.
    There is nothing wrong with pex for the plumbing.
    Hanging flex with the 3" nylon is code here.
    OSB decking has been standard for some years now.

  4. #4
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    May 2006
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    Ft. Worth, TX
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    Quote Originally Posted by desert guy View Post
    It makes cleanup after a tornado real easy. Seriously it sounds a lot like new home construction around here too. The GC's there basically subcontract out everything and each trade is a separate sub much of the time. Framers are a sub, drywallers a sub, tapers another sub etc with much of being a cash deal.
    The problem is not with the quality of work but with what each city or county puts out as code. Many of the fly by night GC's that pay the subs promise them a certain amount and then short pay them or don't pay them at all. The ones who are illegal don't really have any recourse. The homeowner gets a low cost home and the GC makes a decent profit. The guy's who were tradesmen 20 or 30 years ago are shutout and can't compete with someone making $8 an hour framing a house.
    What I see as a worse problem is some kid fresh out of HS who can't afford college or doesn't have the desire to go and wants to get into a trade such as carpentry is screwed because the opportunity to get into the trades and make a wage he can buy a house on and raise a family is pretty much nill. Post tension foundations are pretty much mandatory in the southwest and other areas and while it increases the initial cost it all but eliminates the slab from cracking as the soil heaves especially if it is comprised of dirt/sand/clay after a good rain when it hasn't rained in a month or two.
    You're right--how do young guys expect to get into the building trades? And how long will white guy HVAC guys hold out in newly constructed homes? These houses aren't 100% brick either. They have a lot of that cheap board on the outside of the house. I guess it may be true when they say people don't care about the quality of the house, but they just want to know how much sq footage they will get and what their monthly payment will be. And women may certainly be more of that attitude than the guy, but I don't know for sure.
    I wonder if all your drinking water taste like plastic now? I just don't get paying $350,000 dollars for something that is really a cheap product.

  5. #5
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    May 2006
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    Ft. Worth, TX
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    Quote Originally Posted by coolcajun View Post
    All sounds normal for here. If you want it built your way that house would cost double.
    There is nothing wrong with pex for the plumbing.
    Hanging flex with the 3" nylon is code here.
    OSB decking has been standard for some years now.
    I remember building my dad's house in Cincinnati in 1972 and how much better quality this house is than houses today. The AC had a square duct that ran the entire length of the house which was 70 feet. The house was 100% brick. The original compressor unit is still running good today 41 years later. It has never had a freon leak in the system. It was one of the last houses in Cincinnati to be built using cast iron drain pipe in the plumbing. His friends did the plumbing. It has all copper pipes. All the insulation is sheets and not blown. None of the lumber is finger joint boards. All the decking and roofing was real plywood. The windows are aluminum. All the walls inside are smooth walls--no Mexican special texturing to cover up mistakes. I'm not blaming the Mexicans for this. All the electrical boxes inside were metal boxes--not plastic. The bathtubs are porcelin--not fiberglass. I just believe that it is better quality than houses that are being built today.

    I don't have a photo of the house on my photo share site, but I do have this one.


  6. #6
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    Nov 2006
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    Southeastern Pa
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    It's a matter of where the house is, what it looks like from the outside, and how large it is, as perceived by the homeowner.

    The homeowner is not really concerned with everything being quality. He wants what he considers to be the most bang for the buck, and his real estate agent will show him more quality homes but he won't like them because they're smaller in that price range.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
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  7. #7
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    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
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    The quality of the framing, electrical, plumbing, mechanical systems, and anything else in the house that is not visible from the living space, are not factors used in the appraisal of the home in any way, so builders have no incentive to spend more on them than is absolutely needed to barely squeak by with the pathetic minimum standard required by our sad sack sorry excuse for local code enforcement.

    Anything they spend above that comes right out of their pocket.
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  8. #8
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    Nov 2006
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    The bottom line is that home value is determined by a meeting of the minds, ie, what a buyer is willing to pay and what a seller is willing to accept.

    If higher quality homes were the demand factor of home buyers, homes would be of higher quality. The fact that these homes sell well is an indicator that quality is not the primary factor, beyond a basic standard, in the purchase of new homes.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

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  9. #9
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    Jun 2009
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    solution is easy: buy century old house or house that's not a war time house. avoid subdivision like the plague
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mark beiser View Post
    The quality of the framing, electrical, plumbing, mechanical systems, and anything else in the house that is not visible from the living space, are not factors used in the appraisal of the home in any way, so builders have no incentive to spend more on them than is absolutely needed to barely squeak by with the pathetic minimum standard required by our sad sack sorry excuse for local code enforcement.

    Anything they spend above that comes right out of their pocket.
    Yeah, I guess ya'll are right. This is not the way I think though. I great up in the 1960's & 1970's. My Uncle who worked on a U.S. merchant ship sent me a real good quality telescope from Japan and also a real nice Olympus microscope. I knew what good quality was. Then mom & dad switched over to Japanese cars in the late 1970's, and so did I. I also liked the good quality Japanese stereo gear from the 1970's & early 1980's like Sansui, Kenwood, Marantz, etc. Now days all the stereo gear has that cheap plastic look to it with cheap flimsy plastic knobs and dials. I am the opposite of the mainstreat American consumer. I hate all the trash at Wally World that is made in China. It it isn't high quality, I don't want to mess with it. I also think this way regarding my work. If it isn't a good job, I'm not happy with it. Even a mediocre job isn't good enough for me.

    Yep, we have a American culture with a Wal Mart mentality about everything. I wonder why I'm still different and I'm in the minority?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by exreo View Post
    I wonder why I'm still different and I'm in the minority?
    Because you are using a uniquely personal set of ideas as the basis for your decision making, ideas that are not widely shared by the majority of those who grew up in the Instant Gratification Era.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by blitz View Post
    solution is easy: buy century old house or house that's not a war time house. avoid subdivision like the plague
    Here's a house in a Cincinnati sub that we moved into the day I was born in 1956. The windows were originally casement windows, but they have been replaced. The front porch metal railing has been replaced. This is Christmas time/2004. The walls inside this house were plaster. This is a subdivision house in 1956, and built like a fort. The cost back then I think was about $12K or $13K. I have no idea who was living there then or who is living there now.



    Cincinnati house built in 1972. This house is also high quality. It also has aluminum soffit under front and back gutters which is almost maintenance free. The soffits in Texas are made of wood and the boards start to bow or bend after about 10 years.


  13. #13
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    $15,000 in 1956 has the same buying power as $128,234.01 today.

    Kinda makes you stop and think....

    http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

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