What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

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BogleMelon
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What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by BogleMelon »

First (to be) home owner here. I haven't started searching yet, but may be in a year or 2 I will. In another post I read some concerns about new houses and that they could be built of cheap materials. So what is the targeted building year(s) I should seek? Too old could be a disaster too, I guess...
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PFInterest
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by PFInterest »

in 2 years? 2019....
hicabob
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by hicabob »

I've found older houses have much better lots since people build on the nice ones first but new houses are newer so have better mechanicals, roofs, insulation etc. I've tended to prefer the better lot and put up with/refurb the older house.
NYC_Guy
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by NYC_Guy »

1874 for me. But that may be a bit old for your taste.
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gr7070
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by gr7070 »

Unless your market has some specific affect regarding home age I'd *completely* ignore year built.
Buy in the area you choose based on all the important aspects you value.

I couldn't care less about home age unless it significantly changes some of the items i value greatly. There is nothing in Austin that is particular to construction date.
Last edited by gr7070 on Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
littlebird
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by littlebird »

In NYC, the descriptor to watch for is "pre-war". That's WWII. :shock:
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gasdoc
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by gasdoc »

In our area, the 80's seemed to have shoddy construction.

Gasdoc
tim1999
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by tim1999 »

I would avoid anything built from 2003-2007. Too many corners cut in the race to build during the bubble, shortages of quality labor, potential issues with Chinese drywall in certain states, etc. I worked in the industry at the time and saw a lot of this first hand. When the bubble started crashing in 2007, my former employer was stiffing all of their trusted subs, meaning they had to use even lower quality workers from subs desperate to work even for cheap, and they started using even poorer quality materials to be able to make payroll.

A few years ago in my area we had an entire row of Ryan Homes townhouses built in the mid 2000s just randomly have their roofs collapse in during one sunny day.
CppCoder
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by CppCoder »

My experience has been that houses built in different decades have different styles. HVAC, appliances, carpets, cabinets, counters, etc. can all be replaced. It's much harder to fix a bad floor plan. For some reason, my wife and I prefer homes constructed in the early 2000s.
Jackson12
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by Jackson12 »

If price is a factor, avoid mid- century modern homes for now ( 50s era) but not due to shoddy construction. It's just that (even in my LCOL area of the country) they currently go for a premium.

Just a heads up.

They can need significant work but if they have that mid-century modern vibe and authentic materials - pink or blue tiled bathrooms, original lighting fixtures, etc....buyers go crazy for the homes.

Maybe it's different in other parts of the country. I don't know if it's a passing fancy or not.i grew up in a mid-century modern home and it was extremely well designed and with quality materials that stood the test of time.

.
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Watty
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by Watty »

I don't think that targeting a particular age home is a good way to search for a house unless you really have a strong preference for a new home or a historic home. I would focus more on learning the different areas and schools if you have kids.

Each different age home has a few pros and cons that you can take into account when you look at what is available.

You also have to look at the details of each home to figure out its effective age. For example in some says a 20 year old home with a new roof and HVAC system is newer than a 10 year old home that is all original.
sport
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by sport »

IMO, you can find both good quality and poor quality from any year you choose. One thing we did, was look at developments under construction. Even though neither of us is experienced in building houses, just walking through a partially built house was very instructional concerning quality. By looking around carefully, and paying attention to small details, it was actually easy to identify poor workmanship and design. Another thing to look for is the quality of the materials used. The house we bought was built with Andersen windows, Moen faucets, Kohler fixtures, and Carrier HVAC. The builder's standard cabinet drawers were put together with dove-tailed joints, not just nails or staples.

One other area to consider is the cost of upgrades. We looked at one house where all upgrades had to come from a builder's list at inflated prices. Our builder gave us an allowance for flooring, electricals, and plumbing fixtures. We got to go to the suppliers for these items and we got builder's prices for any upgrades. The builder did not have any additional markup on what we selected.
finite_difference
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by finite_difference »

I vote 1950s (assuming no asbestos or lead paint) or 1980s. I would think homes built now are high quality too if you have a good builder.

What decade had the best construction probably depends a lot on the neighborhood, local regulations at the time and the builder.
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Nestegg_User
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by Nestegg_User »

littlebird wrote:In NYC, the descriptor to watch for is "pre-war". That's WWII. :shock:
OH, I was thinking there that it would have been pre-revolutionary war.....


OP: I think there may be a consideration for avoiding homes built in the time of aluminum wiring.... and for those with the old knob and tube style connections.
Alto Astral
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by Alto Astral »

Skip the age filter altogether in redfin etc. I live in a 60s home. Its fine, no issues. Took us a couple of years to find the right one though. Went through a lot of discussions. So you may want to start looking early if this your first home. That why you can fine tune your search.

Also, if have a specific town/billage/neighborhood in mind, you may ne restricted to the average age of the house there
orca91
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by orca91 »

Don't worry about "what year". You will drive yourself crazy.

The thread about new homes didn't ask what are the pluses of a new home. So, you heard mostly negatives.

Other than the days when people built their own houses, or when a buy goes custom and picks each and every thing in the home, they're all built by builders. You're getting whatever was the easiest and up to code way to build a house at the time.

As a first time buyer, you likely won't live there forever. Buy what you like and can afford.
avalpert
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by avalpert »

2002 was a great year for Sonoma Chardonnay - 1996 is a classic for Napa Merlot.
orca91
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by orca91 »

avalpert wrote:2002 was a great year for Sonoma Chardonnay - 1996 is a classic for Napa Merlot.
That does help when looking for a home. :happy
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GerryL
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by GerryL »

In 1990 when I was shopping for my first home -- the one I'm still living in -- I knew I did not want a brand new home, but I wanted something new-ish. One in which someone else had already dealt with builder issues and did not have the maintenance and infrastructure issues of an older home. I ended up with a house that was 7 years old and was being sold by the first owners.
iamlucky13
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by iamlucky13 »

What year? I think that's the wrong question. If construction quality is your priority, shop based on construction quality, not construction year.

If you aren't confident you can identify construction quality on your, then make sure whatever home inspector you hire for any home you put an offer on has a decent amount of construction experience, which many home inspectors do, and tell him you want to know how sturdily built the house.

It is true that in general older homes tended to be built with more stout materials, but not universally so. Floor joist requirements are one example I believe was updated in the residential code in the late 70's or early 80's. I'm pretty sure some fastening and foundation requirements were increased, too, especially in quake-prone areas. The attachment between the framing and foundation of the house my neighbor is just finishing is the most comprehensive I've ever seen, and he said that was the minimum allowable these days.

Modern homes tend to be very structurally reliable, well-insulated, and well wired. The problems I see most commonly tend to be with either cheap finishings or fittings like doors and tubs, or shoddy work, like a defective shingle installation another poster was asking about in this forum a couple days ago.
jharkin
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by jharkin »

NYC_Guy wrote:1874 for me. But that may be a bit old for your taste.
Amateur hour :twisted: :sharebeer

1795 here. When we where house shopping we looked at places as old as 1730... Would have gone for that one too if it wasn't a near million dollar house, absolutely gorgeous and it had a very well documented history.

To the OP-
I dont think there is any such thing as 'too old'. It all depends on the specific house and how well it was cared for. A lot of the really old houses like mine and NYC guys are actually in very good condition, because the poorly made and poorly maintained homes of those generations just didn't survive.

Buying an old house (I generically lump anything pre-WWII in this category) is more a decision of whether you think you will like the old house lifestyle. Do you like 'old charm' more than modern convenience? Are you willing to live without "open concept" or whatever the next HGTV buzzword is? Do you have an interest in historic preservation? Are you willing to handle the increased maintenance? Are you willing to accept that certain things are just never going to be exactly like you would get in new construction (i.e. your heat bills will never be as low no matter how much retrofitting you do).

If the answers to those question are mostly no- stick to 50s and later homes. Even if you are one of those people that just wants the vintage shell look with a modern interior, stick to modern houses - its easier and cheaper to do building new than gut renovating an old house (and leaves the old houses to the people who like old houses).

Now, assuming you stick to more recent construction - I'd actually be the most cautious about homes from the 70s and 80s. Having grown up in houses built in that era the quality and materials seemed so-so. Its also recent enough that the bad work hasn't all been weeded out and torn down. Older places have mostly been extensively renovated and updated, 90s and newer are much closer to modern codes and the materials quality seems to have significantly improved over prior decades.
Frisco Kid
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by Frisco Kid »

What is available will typically be determined by location and real estate is all about location, location, location. For example in the case of an older well established area homes may have been built in the 20's, 30's and 40's. New construction would need to be a serious remodel or a tear down both of which can be cost prohibitive. One big difference I have seen between new and old is the floor plan and square footage. New homes tend to be larger with open floor plans (great room concept?) and simply lack the character of an older home. As others have said, it makes sense to decide by floor plan and intended usage.
jebmke
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by jebmke »

The best constructed house we have ever owned was built in 1909.
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JDCarpenter
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by JDCarpenter »

jebmke wrote:The best constructed house we have ever owned was built in 1909.
Ours was 1923.

But, we are benefiting from survival of the fittest. The shoddy homes from those years (and the 18th/19th centuries) all fell down or were demolished!
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hand
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by hand »

I think this is a great question, though clearly not top priority or useful way of conducting a search for many.

To some extent, desired build year(s) are a matter of picking your poison and preferences.

On one hand newer houses are generally required to meet more stringent safety code standards, have more up to date electrical, and may take advantage of advanced construction materials & techniques (e.g. air sealing).

On the other hand (surviving) older houses often include less value engineering (use of cheapest material possible), took advantage of a different relationship between labor and materials costs (more handwork!), and perhaps use materials that are no longer economically feasible. Risk of significant routine and unexpected maintenance costs likely also goes up.

With small kids (in the US), I specifically looked for a post-1978 house to limit asbestos and lead paint worries and ensure relatively modern electrical and mechanicals (incl. GFCI protection in bathrooms and kitchen) . I excluded production built houses from the housing bubble years (2005 - 2009) as my feeling is that quality took a dive during these years due to demand that exceeded the skilled workforce. I also excluded new production built housing due to price premium and perception of focus on marketing flash vs. long term quality.

While my heart wanted something with a bit more character, history and quality, the house we chose was the right decision for the family at the time.

The key, I think, is to use building age to inform your process of optimizing what is important to you (safety, functionality, quality, charm) rather than getting hung up on a specific year or years.
bluebolt
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by bluebolt »

If you have an older house that still has knob & tube wiring, some insurance companies won't write a policy or will charge a premium.

Many mid-century homes have wire mesh in the ceilings/walls which can kill wifi signals.

Lead pipes or lead paint may be an issue for older homes.

But besides being on the lookout for specific issues, I wouldn't spend too much time thinking about the age of the home.
Last edited by bluebolt on Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
carolinaman
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by carolinaman »

bluebolt wrote:If you have an older house that still has knob & tube wiring, some insurance companies won't write a policy or will charge a premium.

Many mid-century homes have wire mesh in the ceilings/walls which can kill wifi signals.

Lead pipes or lead paint may be an issue for older homes.
Good point. Older homes, i.e. 60s and 70s, may have some hazardous materials. Popcorn ceilings were popular then and likely will have asbestos which is a problem to remove. There may be other issues but that is one I am familiar with. Also, aluminum wiring was common then and is a fire hazard.
FraggleRock
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What I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by FraggleRock »

1. Location (schools, commute, quiet street, close to shopping/restaurants).
2. Interior design/layout that works for you.
3. Age of 5-7 years. Foundation has settled. Landscaping is starting to look decent.

As a first-time owner be prepared to spend money buying tools and supplies at your local "Home Depot".
$500 in the first 2 weeks would be reasonable.
JGoneRiding
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by JGoneRiding »

In our area houses built just before and just after the bubble are the worst. Esp just after they used the absolute cheapest finishings and stopped putting in ac.

I personally wont by a house without centeral ducting but this depends were you live. We get super cold winters and moderat hot summers. And after the bust tons of houses were built with heat pumps
NJdad6
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by NJdad6 »

I think it depends on the house. A well taken care of older house can be just as sound as a new house. More depends of what features you want. If you want a large master bath and walk in closets you would need 80s or newer. My current house was 20 years old when I bought it. Great house and great location but needed a new roof, HVAC and driveway (all were original). Factored this into the price and replaced within a year.

I bought a new house and later the 20 year old house. There are pros and cons to both. Either way, get a good inspector and ask lots of questions.
sls239
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by sls239 »

I think that quality becomes pretty obvious in 10-20 year old homes.

But also, neighborhoods tend to have a life-cycle. New neighborhoods tend to have very young children. Neighborhoods of 10 year old homes have a lot of 10 year old children. Neighborhoods of 20 year old homes tend to have a lot of empty nesters and may be starting to turn over, that is be sold to new families with young children.
Afull
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by Afull »

I agree with many here that bldg year not that important. My selection criteria would go more along the following:

Location, relative to whats important to you, work, schools, stores, Dr's etc.

Neighborhood: drive around and see what attracts/repels you. Crime?

House: if you know who the builder is what's his reputation. Get a licensed home inspection and be there with him during the inspection. My experience is the inspectors like pointing out things that the potential buyer may be interested in. Inspector will probably be able to tell if prior owners took care of the place.
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Kosmo
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by Kosmo »

I view age of the house as irrelevant. There will always be well-built houses and duds. The specific house matters.

And it also depends on where in the country you're looking. Within 3 miles of my 1984 model, there are houses from 1695, new builds, and everything in between. Off the top of my head I can think of just as many pre- Civil War houses as I can post-2000 developments. Under these circumstances I'm more inclined to trust the older houses.
BoglePablo
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Re: What building year I should seek when shopping for a house?

Post by BoglePablo »

gasdoc wrote:In our area, the 80's seemed to have shoddy construction.

Gasdoc
The neighborhood we moved from had less-than-stellar concrete foundation contractors (honeycombing, cracks, crumbling concrete). Those houses were built 78-80. The houses themselves were generally ok.

The subdivision across the main road from where we now live was built in the 90s and i heard the construction quality was not the best. But they are newer homes relatively speaking so they command a higher price.

The neighborhood we moved to is old, 78-82, but the builders and contractors were high quality im told (by all the original owner retirees ive met). Our new home is a great example. The homes are cheaper than across the main road (due to age built) but are built better.

I guess my point is that YMMV and best thing to do is try to investigate as best you can the target neighborhoods....also i've learned that average home value/cost may necessarily correlate to home quality...
Get a good home inspector.
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