Are Old Homes Really Better
Bob Petersen, Precision Inspection

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How many times have you heard 'they don't build 'em like they used to'? Why do people say this? Is it true?

Absolutely NOT! Besides a FEW things that were better with older homes (no 'finger jointed' studs or trim, better quality wood, no hollow doors or 'pressboard', better doorknobs and no computer controlled appliances), modern homes are much better in many ways. |

Here's a partial list:

  • Roofing/attic-shingles before 1982 lasted maybe 15 years. Now roofs last a minimum of 20 and some are hail resistant. Older homes had little or no insulation, newer homes have lots of it & much better attic ventilation.
  • Foundations: pier and beam or early slabs have lots of problems. Modern slabs have NO problems if properly constructed.
  • Wiring: before 1961 homes had ungrounded outlets (with cloth insulation before 1950!). Before 1978 there were no gfi outlets or smoke & CO detectors. Older homes had fewer circuits and fewer outlets per room; or even worse, aluminum wiring.
  • Plumbing: homes built in the 1950s and earlier had steel waterlines prone to corrosion and internal scaling.(who thought of running water through steel pipes? That was dumb). The tub and sink fixtures had rubber washers which wore out & needed replacing. Newer homes have washerless fixtures. Older homes have cast iron (or felt paper!) sewer lines which crack, scale up, fall apart and corrode. Homes since the 1970s have pvc which is virtually indestructible. Drainlines are larger in diameter too. Water heater relief valves and flues are much better now than in the 1960s, which makes homes a lot safer. Septic systems are cheaper, smaller and better for the land + have no drain field to replace!
  • HVAC: few homes even had central a/c till the 1960s. Remember window units and space heaters? They were awful. Newer a.c. and heating is very efficient, quiet and MUCH safer. The freon used now is better for the environment too…
  • Appliances: homes before the 1960s rarely had a dishwasher or disposal and certainly no microwave (how did we exist without those?). Cooktops and ovens had pilot lights which stunk up the kitchen with gas fumes when they went out. Modern dishwashers are very quiet compared to older ones. Older homes often had vent-hoods which blew into the attic! (fire hazard anyone?). I do however prefer the old appliances for one reason, they didn't have computer controls which are very expensive to repair compared to the older electromechanical controls of yesteryear.
  • Countertop technology has progressed lightyears since the 1970s! Building codes are constantly changing for the better which make homes safer and more energy efficient. There were NO codes prior to the late 1940s and fire safety concerns didn't even exist. Energy efficiency concerns didn't exist prior to the 1980s. HVAC, insulation, attic ventilation, windows and solar screen technology are light years ahead of even 20 years ago not to mention toilets and appliances which use a lot less water.
  • YOU can have the 'good ole days' if you want 'em, I like 2007 !

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