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More fallout from housing crisis
Old 11-01-2007, 11:50 AM   #1
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More fallout from housing crisis

http://www.9news.com/news/article.as...ef=patrick.net

Builders are going belly up and leaving behind their shoddy construction. There's lots of talk here in Colorado about the cheapo work that many builders have done with immigrant (illegal or not) labor. Homeowners are left with the mess.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:56 AM   #2
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Ugh. What a mess!

If the house was completed, then the buyers would surely have it inspected before accepting it. But in these cases, the houses were just left half finished and the buyers were out of luck.

I suppose they made partial payments as the houses were being built. I'm curious - - do those usually go into escrow, or are they just made out to the builder?
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:09 PM   #3
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That happened around here when the bottom fell out of the market between 1991 and 1996. I was looking at some homes in 1995 that had builders squatting in them to keep the bank from taking them, and finishing the work themselves. Sometimes badly. Occasionally you'd easily see the screwups, like uneven tile cutting, or cheap materials used in some parts of an expensive home. Sometimes they were a little less obvious. I remember walking across a living room and feeling a little too much bounce in the floor. On fully jumping up and down, I could create about 3-4" of bounce. Like a trampoline. He used 2x4 joists too far apart instead of 2x6 to code.

What was missed in the above is a contract that said the homeowner didnt take ownership until the property cleared a home inspection. The builder should have had a construction loan while the homeowner should have applied for a standard mortgage on the finished property.

And ALWAYS have a home inspection done prior to taking ownership of any home, especially a new one. I've looked over a couple of new homes and found HUGE problems with the construction. In a boom a lot of builders use workers with limited skill and dont check their work. Doesnt seem to me that the immigration status or worker nationality has much effect on the suckiness of unskilled labor and poor supervision.

For example the house I live in now had half the downspouts installed upside down, so all the seams leak. The guy that installed them also cut into the trim (and flashing below) to save himself from having to spend 5 minutes kicking each one out over the trim. That allowed water intrusion and $3500 worth of dry rot damage. In two homes i've looked at the firebox in the fireplace was installed incorrectly and was a major fire hazard.

Its also really helpful to know a neighborhood or engage a realtor who does. One small area in my town was being developed by a guy who ran out of money and just left the frames of six houses sitting exposed to the elements for four years. Then he finished them. Those seem to resell every 2 years as people move in, discover their house has some rot and mold problems, and they dump it on someone else.
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:40 PM   #4
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Ugh. What a mess!

If the house was completed, then the buyers would surely have it inspected before accepting it.
Good luck inspecting a finished house to see if the fire-stops are in place in the stud cavities, if the subfloor is well nailed, etc., etc.

If the overworked building department didn't notice it during construction I imagine the buyer is out of luck.

Ha
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Old 11-01-2007, 02:59 PM   #5
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Good luck inspecting a finished house to see if the fire-stops are in place in the stud cavities, if the subfloor is well nailed, etc., etc.

If the overworked building department didn't notice it during construction I imagine the buyer is out of luck.

Ha
When I had our current home built 31 years ago, I was a zealous overseer of all the work. We lived nearby and I was at the site daily, sometimes bringing my dad and uncle who had construction experience. Even then, we had issues that required legal work to satisfy.

Some of the things we caught would have gone undetected by someone who rarely visited the site and were a bit on the shocking side, at least to fussy me. And the few things I let go as "good enough" all came back to bite me later.

Despite achieving generally good results, I have zero interest in building again. PITA.

And I assume the builder would have no interest in having me as a customer again!
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Old 11-01-2007, 06:20 PM   #6
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When I had our current home built 31 years ago, I was a zealous overseer of all the work. We lived nearby and I was at the site daily, sometimes bringing my dad and uncle who had construction experience. Even then, we had issues that required legal work to satisfy.

Some of the things we caught would have gone undetected by someone who rarely visited the site and were a bit on the shocking side, at least to fussy me. And the few things I let go as "good enough" all came back to bite me later.

Despite achieving generally good results, I have zero interest in building again. PITA.

And I assume the builder would have no interest in having me as a customer again!
I've never had a house built, and I am pretty sure that I would rather buy an existing house and modify it than build one from scratch when I move north to ER. It really does seem like a PITA to have one built.

When I was in high school, I took home ec and learned to sew like all the other girls(ugh!). I don't sew my own garments, though, because I don't know if I would like any particular garment until I can try it on and see it.

The same is true for houses. You can design until the cows come home, but it seems to me that determining the feel of a house, its atmosphere, aura, and many other subjective qualities would be easier with an existing house than with one yet to be built.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:04 PM   #7
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In a boom a lot of builders use workers with limited skill and dont check their work. Doesnt seem to me that the immigration status or worker nationality has much effect on the suckiness of unskilled labor and poor supervision.
Of course. Good point.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:49 AM   #8
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As some of you may know, my DH is an Architect. He has been an expert witness on construction defects litigation, Project Manager on several award winning buildings - he is construction focused, not one of the artsy fa%tsy designers. One of his major interests is moisture protection, he shudders when we drive past many condos and spec built homes in our community.

When we built our home the costs were more than expected so we passed on granite counter-tops but kept everything that impacts the condition of our house for the next 50 years. We hired the best builder in the county, he visited the house almost daily. The tradesmen and women had long term relationships with the builder.

During the building boom many contractors had difficulty finding good subcontractors, and many subcontractors had problems finding skilled construction workers.

When we need to move on it will be difficult for us to buy a home where he didn't oversee the construction.
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Old 11-02-2007, 02:53 AM   #9
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When we need to move on it will be difficult for us to buy a home where he didn't oversee the construction.
Maybe you can just stay. It would be hard to give up something like that. Or maybe your son or daughter would like to move in there?

It seems a shame to let that go.

Ha
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:34 AM   #10
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Well you must see the spanish speaking guys building the house next to me this week. These guys framing the place are doing a fantastic job. They work like no time is a wasted. I am impressed with this crew!
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Old 11-02-2007, 01:23 PM   #11
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My DD lives in the south Bay area and is doing a major reconstruction of a home she and SIL purchased. Were I to guess, at least 70% of the construction workers have Spanish as their first language and the quality of their work is excellent. Again, the builder has been in the business all of his working life, pretty much limits himself to that town, babies his subs - often working along side them. Add to that DH is down there about 30% of the time.

Generalizations are tough, but often people who grew up in Mexico have experience with stonework and agriculture. Their dry-set masonry and landscaping skills can be top notch.
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Old 11-03-2007, 11:20 PM   #12
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Well you must see the spanish speaking guys building the house next to me this week. These guys framing the place are doing a fantastic job. They work like no time is a wasted. I am impressed with this crew!
We had the same experience with the crew that framed our house. The crew leader spoke decent English, the others took direction. Thier boss told us they were his most productive crew. Ditto the comment about being on site as much as possible. Those guys work from blueprints with no elevation views, so several modifications we wanted were not detailed very well. As for fire stops and such, the county was responsible for inspecting those before the drywall goes up. Same for insulation.....our builder had to cut an inspection hole because they put the drywall up before the county approved. We also took tons of photos, so I have pictures of all the wiring and piping behind the walls. We DID get an independent inspection, also.
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Old 11-04-2007, 12:20 AM   #13
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DH always takes photos as a project progresses. We did a little remodeling on our house, the photos were invaluable!! It isn't a question of hassling the construction workers, it is knowing what's behind the drywall ten years later. There is no perfection on earth, DH has been known to utter, "Damn it, why didn't I take a picture of...". It always helps to note which wall the picture represents, although with application of the brain and review of the drawings one can figure it out.

What was that song that related the fact that we thought we would remember, but are having a tough time recalling the obvious....? Ah yes, I remember it well....
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Old 11-04-2007, 07:31 AM   #14
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The stone work does not compare with the old Italians.Like our old neighbors up north that had their grandfathers who were masons from the old country, Not by a longshot. However with some pointers we had a fantastic job done down here by south of the border crews on some brick work. Fun guys to have working for us and they were spanish speaking but I can speak a bunch of spanish. A great culture, we really should embrace the latino worker instead of villifying them.
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Old 11-04-2007, 10:43 AM   #15
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The stone work does not compare with the old Italians.... A great culture, we really should embrace the latino worker instead of villifying them.
I agree with both those statements. Stone work in Mexico is usually functional, not decorative. Latino workers do the best they know how and are hard workers (speaking in generalities here). They, or their parents, are pursuing opportunity (not much different than my Norwegian grandfather).
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:27 AM   #16
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just received our monthly city newsletter which notes that the city is now spending $20,000 a year on private property maintenance as we have about 50 houses with lawns not being maintained. the city suspects the downturn in our local market and attempts to contact most owners have been unsuccessful. code will place liens on the properties and the city is now considering foreclosure procedures on some of the worst offenders.

as to construction quality, that is precisely how the ol'man made most of his money. i worked summers and between dropping out of schools as structural inspector mostly on high rise buildings, assuring contractors performed according to codes, plans & specs. on commercial buildings we inspected every piece of rebar and observed & tested every concrete pour. it is not an inexpensive part of the construction process and unlikely affordable for single family home builders on a constant basis.
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Old 11-04-2007, 01:46 PM   #17
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Newguy, FWIW the young Italians do not compare with the old Italians, either. Our house is stone and anytime we need an adjustment (not to the structure, but to deal with water or gas lines which here are all cemented in..) we get a pretty ugly job, and we've tried several of the 'recommended' masons. I wish I could do it myself, but can not get a handle on what the ingredients are called (two parts part secrecy/jealousy, three parts ignorance, five parts local dialect and general imprecision).

There's a BBC program shown here on satellite of Brits building wild and wacky houses. It's called "Grandi Progetti" (Big Projects). There are some cool techniques both old and new. We just saw one on straw bale construction.

I would love to get some land in the US and build a real, serious, sturdy and 'green' house.
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Old 11-04-2007, 03:34 PM   #18
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In Houston all you have are Hispanic roofing crews. The only Caucasian guy I know personally who roofed in summers when it was nice and hot and humid was my girlfriend's brother...who is now a Judge downtown. Now that's what you call driven and persistent!
I keep repeating this story to my son over and over...ha! The old "where there's a will, there's a way" theory.
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Old 11-04-2007, 08:12 PM   #19
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In Houston all you have are Hispanic roofing crews. The only Caucasian guy I know personally who roofed in summers when it was nice and hot and humid was my girlfriend's brother...who is now a Judge downtown. Now that's what you call driven and persistent!
I keep repeating this story to my son over and over...ha! The old "where there's a will, there's a way" theory.

Same here in the raleigh area. I got friendly with a crew that was doing 6 different homes during the august heat wave. These guys were animals! I have never seen guys work so hard in such heat. They thought I was loco running 10 miles in the heat as I ran by them on the roofs waving to me calling me loco with a big smile!
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Old 11-04-2007, 10:09 PM   #20
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I have mixed feelings about securing our southern border. We need those folks but any system the Feds develop will be too cumbersome to administer.

In my 'youth' one task I was assigned by DOL was to collect the 'last paycheck' for undocumented workers being held for repatriation. The BP didn't earn my respect, particularly when they held women with very small children for 15 hours without food claiming that there would be enough on the bus. In almost every case the families were picked up at the local grocery store where mom was buying their breakfast - they hadn't eaten since the day before. Give me a break. I went to the local Mexican restaurant and purchased meals for the kids myself and gave them to the mothers. Odds are those kids were born in the USA.
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