If you are new to the area and need to know more about the characteristics of houses we live in, whether a new home in Texas or old home, here are a few things to consider. There was a time, before you and I were born, that people said that they would never own a house that had electric wires running through it. We’ve come a long way since then. The old saying “They don’t build ’em like they used to” is true. [But] That is a good thing. Materials were stronger and methods were more traditional but there are several misconceptions about the old days.
I had the privilege of working with some of the Old World craftsmen as a young carpenter. They grumbled when plywood became more prevalent; they snarled when air nail guns were changing the way wood was fastened. They would never “use a stapler for anything but paper”.
These methods merely changed the delivery of the product; they did not compromise the integrity of the structure as many think. Architects and engineers have made certain of that. As new products are introduced, cynicism or reservations will always accompany a new idea. Houses are much safer, easier to maintain and much more affordable. On top of that, they are much more energy efficient.
Many of the things they did as home constructors were actually harmful to us or the building. At times, home builders were careless and abusive with poisonous chemicals. Toxic chemicals are now regulated. Builders no longer treat every new house with pesticides as they once did. Pre-treating was at least unnecessary and at most, reckless.
- At least in North Texas, builders no longer install heating and air conditioning systems in crawl spaces under our house.
- They no longer embed ductwork into and under our concrete slabs. Builders now vent clothes dryers to the exterior instead of into the garage or the attic.
- They install shut-off valves on all of our gas appliances that don’t require special tools to turn in case we need to shut them off.
- They install smoke detectors and fire alarms.
- They elevate appliances in our garages to reduce the risk of fire.
- They install special firewalls, fire-rated doors and fire stops.
- They install special electrical devices to keep us from accidentally electrocuting ourselves.
- They now install devices that can detect a faulty electrical outlet as we sleep.
- Builders use more fire-rated materials than ever before.
- They use plumbing materials that don’t rust and that make our drinking water safer.
- They install water heaters in a way that prevents flooding of our interiors if they leak or burst.
- New homes in Texas are better insulated and no longer contain asbestos.
- They are equipped with windows that allow more light and keep out more heat and cold.
- Fireplaces now require less maintenance and provide more heat.
- The carpeting and other products no longer contain high levels of formaldehydes.
- The paints builders now use in a new home in Texas no longer contain lead.
And yes, they are right. “They don’t build ’em like they used to”………. and that is a good thing.
Dave Padgett has been a licensed Professional Inspector since 1985
For more details regarding the differences between new homes and older homes in Texas.
These are air conditioning and heating ducts [also known as HVAC ducts]. In the 70’s and 80’s ductwork materials such as Goodman gray flex-Duct, Owens Corning Flex-Duct, and others were widely used but soon fell from favor by most builders and installers. Then came the suits; those guys in suits from Harvard and the lawsuits they filed. Class-actions and other problems developed for these and other manufacturers and those flexible ducts wrapped in gray trash bag material were no more.
The biggest problem was that the material could not withstand ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays and the outer material would simply melt down. These photos show two things: one, how the meltdown begins by tearing apart the plastic covering. Two, how one homeowner dealt with it with plastic tie wraps. The repair is interesting but not effective.
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License No. 58