Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shoddy construction

Discussing a recent New York Times article about shoddy condo construction during the boom, the Wall Street Journal's "Developments" blog writes:
The story about shoddy construction during the boom isn’t just a NYC tale. As M.P. McQueen reported in the Journal this summer, the furious pace of home building from the late 1990s through the first half of this decade contributed to a surge in defects. It caused shortages of both skilled construction workers and quality materials. Many municipalities also fell behind inspecting and certifying new homes.

The sheer volume of new buildings that went up during the condo construction boom is the main reason for the increase in defective buildings, lawyers and engineers told the Times.

So one would expect to see more problems in other cities that experienced a condo boom recently.
I doubt this is just a condo problem. It's something I've worried about when I eventually buy a home. So many homes were built during the boom, I bet many of them were rushed. I also bet that the increased demand for construction workers during the boom led to a drop in the average skill of the people hired to do the work, with many of them unable to even speak English. On the whole, houses built during this decade may be of inferior quality to houses built previously.


  1. with many of them unable to even speak English.

    Wow, that's pretty racist.

  2. Z, how is that racist? What are you implying about those that are unable to speak English? What if they all spoke German. Is that a racist comment? Will the inability to speak English, affect the quality of building the homes?

  3. Great post! I have seen many condos in this area and there are noticeable differences between those built before the year 2000 and those built thereafter. Whether is is a water leak that you are now contesting in court with the builder, or a elevator that is in constant disrepair, condo ownership is a pain the arse.

  4. z said...
    "Wow, that's pretty racist."

    For the record, I wholeheartedly support immigration, even including illegal immigration. Without immigration, the U.S. would not have grown to be the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. As a classical liberal, I believe that all people of the earth have a right to seek a better life. Artificial borders prevent people from reaching their full potential simply due to the spot on the earth on which they were born.

    That said, communication barriers do affect the quality of work performed. The inability to speak English well in an English-speaking country is likely to create communication barriers. That's the point I was trying to make, although I realize I probably sounded like Lou Dobbs.

  5. yeah - the construction is especially bad if they were Spanish speaking.

  6. English speaking or not, bad construction is bad construction and someone has to pay to fix the problem... They should have hired a interpreter!!!

  7. Did you mean AN interpreter?

    James, I gladly accept your well spoken defense to my comment.

  8. Shoddy?
    Why you must be joking. Just because the framing was done by an illegal picked up on a street corner and paid $6 an hour? I'm sure its top quality work!

  9. z said...
    "James, I gladly accept your well spoken defense to my comment."

    Thank you, z.

  10. "Did you mean AN interpreter?"
    Perhaps he is hispanic as well, he is from San Antonio. Dont be so racist!!!

  11. There are good laborers and there are bad, no matter what language they speak. I've had some excellent Spanish speaking ones that did the best work. I've also had some that sucked. Same for black, white, etc.

    I would agree that the boom and the lack of good labor resulted in a lot of shoddy construction.

  12. The buildings I wonder about are the condos where most people aren't paying the association dues. In these cases, there will effectively be no budget for any sort of maintenance, so virtually everything will be deferred. On a brand new building I suppose there might not be all that much that needs to be done in the first few years, but eventually the lack of maintenance is going to come back and haunt them.

    I don't know if there are that many of these things around here - I gather that in Florida they are all over the place.

  13. Constructions done at the time of boom might be of low quality. Requirement of labour was large so builders would have opted for lesser-experienced people.

    Regarding speaking English, i would support James, as this is just communication hindrance not racism. This problem could be with any other language not just English.