Many buyers think a new home is better than on older one because it will require less maintenance, at least initially. The fire that scorched thousands of homes in the hills above Oakland, Calif., in 1991 put this theory to the test. Many new homes were built with engineered foundations fit for earthquake country and modern features like dual-pane windows to improve energy efficiency.
However, far too any of these homes developed problems soon after they were built — often almost immediately. One family who rebuilt found the house was uninhabitable because the windows and doors leaked, as did the slate terraces, which were over finished ceilings.
They had to move out of the house while it was virtually rebuilt. All windows, doors, decks and the exterior wood siding had to be removed and redone. The experience was so unpleasant — involving a legal action as well as the hassle of the construction work — that the owners never moved back into the house. They sold it.
In other cases, homes built post-fire had serious deterioration issues develop within years after the home was completed. Many of the problems involved windows and decks that hadn’t been installed property. Another common problem was decks and staircases that were constructed without proper ventilation.