In the height of a housing boom, corners are going to get cut. After all, the longer a builder takes on one home, the fewer homes he builds overall and the fewer homes he ultimately sells. It’s very worth it to the builder to get new homes built and families in them quickly – even if the home has a few issues that have not yet been resolved.
When you’re building a toy that will only be used for a year or two, you can get away with cheap materials. The toy breaks, you toss it out or repair it and you’re done. When you’re building homes that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can make tremendous profits by using cheap materials. After all, the less it costs to build the home, the more you can make when you sell it to the unsuspecting buyer.
But using cheap materials on a new house is a far cry from cheap fabric on a doll’s dress. Cheap materials can be extremely expensive for homeowners down the road and even dangerous if they have hazards associated with the material.
For example, one company making “organic” shingles faced numerous lawsuits during the housing boom due to the inferiority of its products. These shingles actually would come loose and slide off the roof. Sure they looked good on the day of the sale, but imagine playing outside with your family when a section of roof simply slides down onto the patio!
Poor Construction Practices
Cheap material that isn’t designed to last is certainly one major problem with builders rushing new homes to the market, but those inferior products are nothing compared to the poor building practices that some builders endorsed.
Homeowners have been shocked to find toilets leaking through the ceiling from the second story, massive cracks in their foundations and potentially fatal furnace installation errors. The fact that the homeowners are shocked at all is worthy of consideration in some poorly constructed neighborhoods.
When you build a new home, you typically take some turns around the property to watch the progress of the house. Even if you know nothing about building a home, you would likely notice a giant crack in the slab your new home is being built on. You’ll probably notice a tear in the fireplace vent or cracks in the support beams.
But some problems are harder to spot, and builders and inspectors rushing to maximize profits during the housing boom weren’t interested in whether the window caulking was correct or if the air conditioning drip pan was level. Just days after moving in, however, many homeowners noticed exactly what the problems were – and some are still discovering them years later.
Preventing Builder Headaches
Before buying a new home or starting the building process, it pays to do a bit of research. What are the reviews saying on the company in question? How well as the quality of the home held up over the years?
Your best source of information in a neighborhood built by a single builder is the neighbors. When looking at a home, make a point of stopping by the neighbors houses to chat. You don’t have to take up much time, but introduce yourself and ask the people living in similar houses if they have been impressed with the quality of the home. If they haven’t – can you really expect to be impressed yourself?