This is the type of question that is close to my heart. I love houses, all buildings with good design and I love the older homes. The nature of building homes is much different now than before 1950. Now we have an assembly line mentality where we must keep labor costs down. Labor is the love portion in the process of building structures, most new homes have lost the personality part. Itâ€™s, letâ€™s slam it together and quickly get to the next one.
Before the end of WWII, homes were built by a Master Builder; he knew every part of the home, when constructing the foundation he was also thinking about the finish. Now, subcontractors pour a foundation and never return, how do they know how to improve their skills if they never see the completed home? The Master Builders knew and appreciated the homes they built, and built them with pride and lots of labor, as the major costs of buildings then was materials. The labor, which is so much of a homeâ€™s cost today, is what makes those older homes keep their value. You canâ€™t build a new 1924 Craftsman today! And you canâ€™t replicate the labor and finish of those old homes today either.
In addition to being a REALTOR, I am also a licensed Architect. I perform structural engineering, and yes the new homes have much better structural components that older homes do, including lateral resistive systems for earthquakes not used in older homes. However, that same home built in 1924 can say it has survived more than 80 years of life and earthquakes, a newer home cannot say that. A home which has survived that long must have been built well.
By the way, lateral resistive systems were not required in residential construction in California until the 1990â€™s. So a home built in 1980 will have the same basic structural system as the 1924 home, but with inferior materials. That is not to say there were no improvements during that time, just not that much in structural systems. Homes before 1978 used lead paint and asbestos use was not banned until 1989.
Buy the pre-1950 home, have a professional review itâ€™s condition and make sure you repair and update as needed.
Curt V. Schultz, REALTOR-Architect, Pasadena, Ca.