Comment of the Day: Houston Homebuilding Tales, Abbreviated

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON HOMEBUILDING TALES, ABBREVIATED “Once upon a time we knew how to build homes to take advantage of [things] like prevailing winds, natural shade, the position of the sun at different times of the day and year. Then we started just smacking them down in a line after clear cutting the entire sub-development and relying on being able to chuck in a bigger AC unit to take the load.” [Jimbo, commenting on Factory-Built Green Homes for Houston]

4 Comment

  • We also knew how to make homes that survive the 80 mph winds that arrive every few years when things called “hurricanes” come along. One of these so-called “hurricanes” instantly creates 2 classes of homes. Those made before 2000 and those made after. The pre 2000s in the Heights, Montrose, Southhampton, Afton Oaks, Tanglewood and Southampton escape unscathed. The rest become a blue tarp farm with owners stupefied by leaks and gaping holes. I know nobody in an older home affected by Ike aside from a tree strike. Almost everyone I spoke to with tens of thousands in damage was in a new three story townhome.

  • I seem to remember that before the last hurricane, anyone in a house built, after the 1970’s, were advised that their house may not be a safe place to be.

    Plus another benefit, is being on a pier & beam, your higher off the ground, water, could go under your house, and hopefully not in side. The soil here is just not good for slab foundations.

  • One of the reasons 3-story townhomes suffered more roof damage is that they are taller and more affected by the high winds. The shingle roof on a new townhome is no different from an old home. Due to the hurricane straps and clips that are required, newer homes are much more durable than homes built in the fifties. The older homes (20s) usually have so much wood in them that they are tough, but most of them have had a complete roof replacement.

    In regards to concrete slabs, they are definitely doable in Houston, but you must take precautions due to our highly expansive soils. Clay swells and shrinks with moisture. A good foundation will be built on a site prepared with select fill and the slab will be properly engineered.

    Not to be too much of a defender of new construction, I am amazed that so many of these new townhomes are lacking in operable windows. A friend of mine discovered this inconvenience when they were without power for a few a days due to Ike. Had they been without power for two weeks, they would have been living in a mold factory.

  • After Ike my friend at Wilshire Village hosted 7 people whose homes had no power and or flood/wind damage in perfect comfort, thanks to the angled casement windows. Not too bad for a place only fit for occupancy by “squatters”.