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marsman t1_j1icvh0 wrote

Not so much with housing because the materials and approach to building have changed and that has had a very real impact on longevity (older houses are not over-engineered as such, but they did tend to be built out of heavier/more solid materials because the alternatives didn't exist and using far more labour intensive approaches). That still leads to issues but they tend to be different.

Take UK housing stock, a 100 year old house is not particularly unusual (about 25% of the total stock), most is more than 60 years old. Many of those 100 year old houses are built from solid engineering brick, actual stone, have stone lintels, joists tend to be far thicker/larger than they would be if built now to support thicker/heavier wooden floor boards than would be the norm now too, albeit not as well finished. You'll likely still have a slate roof and heavier rafters to support it. They have/had lime plaster on the walls, lath and plaster ceilings etc.. And would have had internal plumbing/gas/electricity retrofitted at some point in the last 60 years.

That means that the structures tend to be incredibly solid (until someone tries to take out a chimney and fails to support things properly etc..), but also have lots of rough edges, walls aren't quite parallel, nothing is level, insulation (beyond the plaster and ceilings) is poor because the expectation was that the house would need to breathe and would have open fires internally..

Newer builds on the other hand tend to be built using a minimum of material, and using processes that are as light on labour as possible. You have far more complex materials involved, and plumbing, wiring and so on are embedded. The downside of that is that things can go wrong quickly when they do, weathering can be pretty catastrophic, a roof might be expected to last 15-25 years rather than 50-100 years for example, but broadly there is simply less room for wear before it becomes a problem.

There is probably a sweet spot (in the UK at the moment it's likely a 60's built semi/detached house) that balances a decent finish with a solid structure.


Trendiggity t1_j1ilyv6 wrote

Agree 100%. I live in Halifax (the Canadian one!) which is on the short list of oldest Canadian cities. There is 6-7 square kilometers of residential development where I live that was all built in the 1920s-1930s and over 95% of them are still standing, many with renovations and add-ons over the years. Including my own; it was reno'd in the 70s or early 80s and it's... very apparent which sections are built cheaper.

Also agreed on the 1950s-1960s builds. A friend has a house from the mid 50s in a subdivision about 10km from here and it's a very well built house. Not as overbuilt as mine but from an era of cheap lumber, before plywood became common in residential construction. It's the perfect middleground and is what my partner and I are looking for in a house when we buy... if we can get over the 60s asthetics of most of those builds


RandomUsername12123 t1_j1ikgnv wrote

You can buy and build stuff today that will outlast this millenium.

Are you ready to pay for it tho?


F0sh t1_j1jdyzq wrote

It's pretty hard to tell whether you're buying a high quality property, because the things which determine longevity are not obvious. Even if you could, house prices are so expensive that there is enormous pressure to build cheap, so you're unlikely to be able to find it readily. Hence you're not just paying for the actual cost of building a longer-lasting building, but also the cost of competing for a limited supply of them.