“They Don’t Build Them Like They Used To” Oh Really?

Does anyone remember Hurricane Andrew?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Andrew Provides a concise summary.  In 1992, I was a territory manager for Senco Products, a major manufacturer of automatic nailing and stapling products.  The reason I bring up Hurrican Andrew, is that prior to this hurricane, the building codes for nail specifications, and other fasteners to address wind uplift forces went largely ignored. 

 This past week, I attended a pre-drywall inspection, and a final inspection for two different brand new homes built by Centex.  For the record, there are two reasons why you see so many positive reports on my blog about Centex.  One, the inspections I’ve intended, of both brand new, and used homes; and positive reports from my clients.  And two, their superior JD Power ratings.  I could actually make a lot more money selling other brands who offer huge selling bonuses.  D. R. Horton for one offers DOUBLE commissions of 6% for selling their homes.  Kind of makes you wonder about a few things, but that’s not the subject of this article.  Beazer has a volume plan where you can work your way up to 4 1/2%.  Centex offers 3% and no extra bonuses no matter how many you sell…for the record. 

 Anyway, since Andrew, inspectors pay much more attention to the types of nails, nailing patterns, and the connectors used to fasten the home down to the foundation.  After Andrew, a lot of people caught hell, and building inspectors topped the list.  Even though the newer codes were virtually indiscernable by anyone but an engineer, especially with regard to “hurricane ties”  If you look at a new home built today, you’ll see that from the roof trusses, all the down to the sill plates, are fastened together by some type of metal strap.  Short of  tornado, or a direct hit by a cat 5 hurricane, they aren’t going anywhere.  

 That doesn’t mean that new home builders are perfect.  The people that oversee the construction have too many homes to supervise, typically around 20, assigned to them.  So you need to hire your own inspector, and negotiate with the builder so that things get completed in a reasonable time frame.  I am biased of course, but I highly recommend having a real estate agent on your side of the table to help out as well.  Consider it free insurance.  Just make sure your agent is actually your agent, and not a salesperson pretending to be an agent. 

On the finished home, most of the drywall work was great.  Two joints in the living room needed to be re-floated, and two other joints needed to be cut out and reworked.  Must have been a bad day or the end of the day for the dry waller, because the rest of the house looked great. 

On the pre-drywall inspection, the walk-out door was on the wrong side of the garage…whoops.  That will be fixed.  And there was about a four inch piece of OSB near the top of the roof line with a couple of pieces busted out.  Apparently, the code doesn’t specify the width of the last piece near the end of the roof sheating.  I’m not a code expert…so I can’t really evaluate that from an expert standpoint.  Seemed pretty hokey to me.  But those were the only things we could find.  Myself, a certified inspector and the buyer. 

I learned this week that the site supervisors are incented based on thier J. D. Power Survey results.  If they don’t average a 9.3 or better, they miss out on a significant bonus.  Sounds like a good plan.  They stay in touch with the customers and do everything they can to make them happy.  

I’ve heard people say that because of the way they grow trees now, that older lumber is more structurally sound and that is probably true.  It remains to be seen how well the vinyl siding will hold up after 30 years in our sun and rain.  They were using Cedar in the 80’s, and without flawless maintenance, they need to be resided because it rots in the humidity.  Brick is an extra $20,000, a great investment.  And cement plank siding is great, my favorite actually.  It’s not inexpensive, almost as much as brick, but it looks great, and is proven to last.  It does require caulking to prevent leaking. 

In Charleston, I feel great about recommending Centex, Brentwood, Harbor, and Weiland built homes.  If you need help comparing builders and communities, please feel free to contact me.  843-991-5184. 


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