Is it possible to build NC split face block buildings properly, Yes.
However, a majority of NC, i.e. CMU, split face block, cement block, whichever term you want to use is not built properly. Yes there are differences in the material but it is essentially the same thing.
Part of the problem is this is essentially limited lifespan strip mall technology that should have never been allowed in our climate.
When built in the right way with all the proper components the structures can work well enough and not have any more issues generally than other types of buildings. Unfortunately, building them properly with the right components costs more money, which we all know developers don't want to spend. I've done construction inspections and witnessed guys first hand doing it 'designed to fail'.
We have a working group that is slowly working on putting together new, higher standards for this type of construction in the City. A number of us have had discussions with Aldermen and City officials about this over the years with little success. I also have an article about this subject on my website. Preferably we'd love to see CMU banned in the City but that will never happen.
If you are looking at these types of buildings for a Condo purchase, I suggest you pay attention to the building itself more, rather than just concentrating on the pretty granite and soaker tub. Water intrusion into the building is common and structural failures have occurred. There are some 'decent' CMU buildings out there. Newer construction ones coming on the market have been improved upon over stuff that was built during the 'anything goes' boom. You could do ok, you could end up not doing so well.
For a new buyer the most common issues are water intrusion, poor conditions and additional investment costs. Many times new condo associations get stuck with big remediation bills in the first 2-5 of ownership.
For those who think I am being harsh, believe me when I say I am working very hard at toning it down. Whatever you do as a buyer, hire a good inspector from the City who deals with these types of properties. Stay away from the checkbox idiots who come in from the suburbs and have no idea what they are looking at.
If you don't believe me cause I'm an admitted historic vintage Chicago building nerd, then ask any respectable Chicago home inspector. For every well built new construction property, several are built to fail. If you are still in doubt, go spend a day watching the guys who construct these things, untrained non-professionals abused by meatheads in Hummers looking to cash out and change LLC's, and then take a look at the materials they use, stuff even Menard's discontinued. The whole thing is a farce to sucker the too busy too wealthy urban professional who doesn't have time to think but gets bright eyes when he (she/it) sees Housing Crack, better known to the New Construction Addicts as GRANITE and STAINLESS.
But West Town, Noble Square, Nelson Algren-ville II, whatever you want to call Little Italy Due, yeah, great hood except for the monstrosities built over the last ten years.
to the buyer as long as properties are listed on the multiple listing service, try not to do this on your own, too many things to consider, including resale value once you want to sell the property in the future.
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If you find a home that you like you should definetely consider purchasing.
Do find out how long the unit has been on the market. Also look at other units sold in this area to give you better understanding of the neighborhood.
Senior VP of Mortgage Lending
773 290 0455
Due to very low inventory on new construction in Chicago right now if you see something and you like it you should by. One of my colleagues mention avoid split face block construction, that was band in 2009 in Chicago. The house you are looking at is very modern and has a very distinct look. The question comes to when you are ready to sell as well as is it a style you can see you self in the next several years without having to undertake a major face lift. Is the style trendy just for this moment or will the style become one of the classics.
The new construction market is crazy busy. Better than it was in the heyday as there is a lack of inventory. A lot of my business is new construction and I developed some projects a few years ago. So I know construction very well. Extremely hard to find land right now. The new units will not be where you get the best value but that is a trade off most buyers are willing to overlook to get the bling effect.
I know a lot of the builders out there. Feel free to contact me and I will try and steer you in the right direction with good advice.
Ian Halpin / Broker
Jameson Sothebyâ€™s International Realty
425 W. North Ave. / Chicago, IL 60610
O: 312.335.3220 / F: 312.229.9190 / C: 773.531.4479
firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.jamesonsir.com
Although this pertains to East Village, just west of Ashland, it's interesting to note just how much new construction is happening in the area: http://www.chicagonow.com/getting-real/2012/07/chicagos-east