Are New Homes Always Better Than Older Ones? A Case for “Good Bones”

Are New Homes Always Better Than Older Ones? A Case for “Good Bones”

In the relentless pursuit of progress, we often find ourselves enchanted by the allure of the new and improved. However, when it comes to the structural integrity of our homes, there's a compelling argument to be made for the enduring quality of mid-20th century lumber. In this era of fast-paced construction and modern materials, the saying "newer isn't always better" holds some water, and the decline in the quality of contemporary lumber should be a consideration for buyers and the longevity of their investment that may have you thinking about the pre-1980s home with “good bones” more seriously.

Timber Transition

The shift in lumber quality can be traced back to the 1980s when old-growth timber, known for its exceptional strength and durability, was nearly depleted. This marked the beginning of an era where the wood used in construction began to lose its intrinsic robustness. As a result, the lumber industry turned to fast-growth wood, harvested from young trees cultivated for rapid production.

One need only take a glance at a piece of mid-20th century lumber compared to its modern counterpart to observe a stark contrast. The older wood boasts a denser composition, displaying tight growth rings and a rich colour indicative of slower growth. In contrast, contemporary lumber often appears lighter and less dense, betraying its rapid growth origins. This difference in density has profound implications for the overall strength and longevity of the wood.

One of the key drawbacks of modern lumber lies in its scarcity of heartwood. Slow-growth wood, characteristic of mid-20th century lumber, yields a more significant amount of heartwood – the central, densest, and longest-lasting part of the tree. In contrast, newer lumber, grown rapidly for quick harvesting, lacks sufficient heartwood. This deficiency makes modern wood more prone to rot, significantly diminishing its lifespan compared to its older counterpart.

Termite Troubles

Another challenge with contemporary lumber is its increased susceptibility to termite damage. The softer nature of fast-growth wood renders it an easier target for these wood-consuming pests. In contrast, mid-20th century lumber, often resinous and naturally termite-resistant, stands as a testament to the benefits of using older, more robust materials in construction.

Investment in the Ages

Despite the allure of shiny new builds, there's a compelling argument for the longevity and resilience of homes constructed in the mid-20th century. With proper updates to plumbing and electrical systems, these vintage abodes represent a solid investment. The robustness of the lumber used in their construction often ensures that these homes will outlast their newer counterparts, offering not only a sense of nostalgia but also a practical and lasting choice for homeowners.

Good Bones = Selling Advantage

In the current market, the dearth of supply often results in buyers turning to new construction, and the steep costs of a custom build. Having an agent who understands the advantages of older homes and the ability to readily communicate those advantages to buyers can be critical for producing a successful sale. On the selling side, I always find an angle to maximize your return, and for my buying clients, this type of consideration can give you options when other competitive buyers don’t see that they have any. 

Navigating the real estate process is tricky, but it gets easier with an experienced agent by your side. If you’d like to chat about your real estate goals, it all starts with a conversation. Reach out any time to discuss your real estate.

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