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Rant Fire destroys street

Discussion in 'General' started by chrisb2e9, 22 Jul 2007.

  1. chrisb2e9

    chrisb2e9 Dont do that...

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    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/21072007/3/canada-fire-destroys-edmonton-street.html

    This story really hit home with me because the city where it happened is only a few hours away. The part that really makes me angry is that I know exactly what they are talking about when they say "lax building codes". This area is going through a major boom and everyone is trying to cash in. If you look at older parts of the city's in Alberta they all look the same. nice homes with spacious yards.

    The new homes that they are building are pure ****. they are spaced so close together that you cant even drive a small car between them. The materials used are the cheapest available and the workmanship is extremly poor. A friend of mine moved into one such home and the front door did not fit properly into the door frame. I did some work in the areas where they were building these new homes and after talking to one of the workers I found out they they were using fewer nails than they should be in order to save money.

    There is a lottery done out here to win a dream home. the one for this year was worth over $1,000,000 CDN. I went with my GF to have a look since we bought a ticket. I could not believe the shoddy workmanship in it. For example the brand new foundation already had several major cracks in it. each one was several feet long. They also advertised the basement as being able to have a few small bedrooms. There were no windows, which is illegal for a bedroom.

    It does not suprise me that this has happened, the homes all feature great things like marble countertops and built in speaker systems throughout the house, top rate fridge's and stoves come with. But if you scrape away the nice looking finish you get a house that wont last 10 years. and the average price is up to around 350,000 and it keeps going up.

    On a side note, in another town close by, two hotels that were underconstruction burnt down. One started and the other was so close that it cought fire. The rumor going around is that the builder ran out of money (something not uncommon around here) and did an insurance scam to recover the money they has spent.

    Any places in Europe where I should consider moving to?
     
  2. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    In the fire service we refer to them as disposible buildings. The modern lightweight construction is a nightmare from a firefighting standpoint as they collapse way way too fast (just ask theose 9 guys in Charlston). The problem in most areas is the political influence of the builders. Quite simply, it's an application of the golden rule; they have the gold so they have a great say in setting the rules. Lightweight construction is very cheap to build and that goes to padding the builder's profit margins. There comes a point where all the firefighting resources in the world aren't going to stop a fire and in this case it sounds like that point was reached.
     
  3. BUFF

    BUFF What's a Dremel?

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    Don't really think so as it affects us too.
    We used to traditionally have a lot more brick & stone buildings than in the US but timberframe caught on for speed/cost (fair to say that they are also easier to make thermally efficient).

    I used to work in the building supplies market so when I went around newbuild houses I would be looking at things that others didn't - I reckoned that if I could spot money saving on things that were externally visible that you could bet that they were saving even more on things that were hidden.
    Unfortunately, even with builders with very good reputations you can find problems.
     
  4. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Pffff. They throw up all sorts of **** here now. New housing builds often fit the maximum amount of houses on the smallest space possible: I've seen stuff where there's a 6" gap between the houses and that makes them "detached" apparently, so they can charge a **** ton more. You can't even squeeze down between them. The gardens are about 6 blades of grass long and there's usually about half a dozen other houses overlooking you. They use smaller furniture to make it look bigger when you walk in. Everything is thrown up in 10 minutes with the cheapest of everything and it all looks like a prefab-all-the-same estate. I rent one of these now and it must be no more than 15 years old, and it serves the purpose but I'd never consider buying one.

    You never ever move into a new estate because there's a high chance of it turning into a chav-hole since the social boundaries are not established. I've seen it more often than not.
     
  5. scq

    scq What's a Dremel?

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    The problem with Alberta homes is they can get away with it. Construction labour is in extreme demand. Those guys are paid ridiculously high, and while costs are on the spike (think of how much land and actual construction costs today), the craftsmanship is getting shoddier and materials cheaper. Overall, you're paying more for a cookie-cutter house made from cheap dough.

    I think it's a function of high demand, low supply, and low standards. The builder's mentality is, "If you don't like our designs and craftsmanship, go live somewhere else then, because we're getting more business than we can handle already."

    Unfortunately, you won't be seeing it get better anytime soon. We'll just keep getting houses of poor structural and architectural quality as long as people pay for them - and do people pay for them! Blame the good economy. Blame the massive influx of new immigrants (foreign and Canadian). It's not the builder's fault that people are taking whatever trash they're handing out.

    It almost seems like architects today (if they still use architects for designing), are considering economy and only economy. Reduce costs by reducing materiality and quality. If someone is willing to pay more, then give them a false, dishonest skin of richness (like veneering or slap on a marble counter top). Essentially, a $300 000 house and a $1m house are the same thing. It's just that one is bigger and has a nicer skin. I like to call this architectural superficiality. It's no different than slapping on a brand name to a shirt and selling it for $200 more. You can blame this on the post-modernist Robert Venturi.

    It's almost pathetic how people are lapping all of this up. Thinking that by spending $2m on a house, that they're getting their own Palace of Versailles, while what they're getting are fiber-board Corinthian pillars and cheap stucco.
     
    Last edited: 22 Jul 2007
  6. DXR_13KE

    DXR_13KE BananaModder

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    here we have inspections and laws but..... there are those that have large shoulders and kind of go above the rules and inspections and build crappy homes, these are bought and then suddenly people start moving out and selling them... but no one buys them because they start cracking up, the paint starts do deteriorate and pipes become broken making the building a nightmare...... thankfully we have some honest builders that make homes complying to the laws and to the taste of the people that are going to live there.


    edit: not considering the losses i would hope that someone let a house burn and the rest would go with it so that the gov would change the laws....
     
    Last edited: 22 Jul 2007
  7. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    It's happening, I think the original story was an example of this. I know that from a fire service perspective we're not going to risk a firefighter's life to try to save a house if no one is inside, especially if there is an excellent chance that it is going to collapse at any moment.
     
  8. Jamie

    Jamie ex-Bit-Tech code junkie

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    I am surprised a country as large as Canada is having this problem. I expect it with the UK since building land is so hard to come by.
     
  9. Veles

    Veles DUR HUR

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    IMO the Japanese have the right idea with their housing, no second hand houses, you pay for the land, knock down the house and build a new one.

    Timber homes are actually very good if they're done right, countries like Sweden make very good timber frame houses, and I think it's something that should really be done more over here, it has many advantages, a good one as BUFF said is they're very easy to make thermally efficient. And it you really don't like the idea of a wooden looking house you can always face them with a fake brick/stone wall.

    Pretty much everywhere is the same nowadays, all the good jobs are in the cities, the cities are too packed, and so are the suburbs. You can't build into the green belt without cutting through lots of red tape. That's why builders want to do things compact now. There's one site near my house, it used to be a used car garage in the middle of a load of houses, the site is a reasonable size, they managed to squeeze around 50 houses or so onto it somehow. You could've fitted about two of my old house + garden, etc. on that plot.
     
  10. scq

    scq What's a Dremel?

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    Isn't that economically and environmentally unsustainable? Wouldn't it be better just to do it right the first time, and have a building that lasts through a few generations?
     
  11. Veles

    Veles DUR HUR

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    They're made out of wood (usually), very cheap, quick to build and it's not like the old house is just thrown away.

    Of course, stuff like apartments are made to last, but if you're buying, you make your own house, it removes all the hassle of the internal walls not being where you ideally want them to be.

    Buying a house is a huge effort over here (and in most places), just watch a program like Location, location, location. You need to find the right area, you need to find houses for sale in the area, those houses have to be in the right price range, the house has to be the right size with the right size garden. It's very difficult to find the perfect home, because it's a rare case you do, you need to see how easy and how expensive it is to modify the best house you can find. That kind of stuff involves all the hassle of planning permission and you aren't going to get off to a good start with the neighbours if you move in and immediately turn the house into a building site. Then you find the best house isn't the best because you won't be able to get the planning permission, so you have to go to the next one in line. Then you find the house is structurally unstable and needs rewiring, the water outlet isn't in the place you want it for the washing machine, and you need another one for the dishwasher. You don't have a vent for the dryer, your living room has that one corner that's not quite right meaning you have to alter the layout of the perfect home cinema setup, meaning that expensive hi-fi equipment is going to sound not as good as it should because you can't position the speakers correctly. A few of these things sound like minor annoyances, but you're paying vast sums for these products, they should be how you want them, and you have to live with them, and after a while, a tiny annoyance can drive you round the bend.

    Then you also have the problem of housing prices, they are stupidly high, it's much cheaper to buy an empty plot of land and then build a house on it, that way you also get the ideal house layout since you have say on it's layout. Because of these inflated prices it also makes it difficult for first time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder, forcing many people into a crippling mortgage.

    Building a house and expecting it to last generations is a big problem also as I've mentioned before, yeah, some houses might last a while, but a lot of the time they don't, maintainence of a brick and mortar house is expensive, so many people ignore it. Meaning before you buy a house you have to pay hundreds of pounds to get several surveys done, only to find, if you do pay £200k for this "ideal" house, the wiring in the house is archaic and needs replacing, the boiler is on it's last legs, and some worrying cracks have been spotted in the brickwork. So that 200k you spend could easily turn into much more just to get a house into a reasonable state. If you decide that's too much work and want to go with a different house, then you've just wasted a few hundred quids worth of surveying
     
    Last edited: 22 Jul 2007
  12. cpemma

    cpemma Ecky thump

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    "In one part of the estate if one person opens a bathroom window the person in the neighbouring property cannot open theirs fully - because they physically clash!"

    :rolleyes:
     
  13. Veles

    Veles DUR HUR

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    Places are starting to build down now too, basements are quite rare in the UK, but due to the lack of extension room, people are extending downwards and many housing projects have basements too try and make up for the lack of floor area.

    It used to be that houses came with massive gardens since many people grew their own vegetables, and now people don't they have used that extra garden space to extend their house. But because no-one, grows their own food anymore, gardens have become a luxury instead of a necessity, people (including me), would rather have a bigger house and sacrifice a large garden. Unfortunately, planners have taken that to be an excuse to reduce garden size so they can fit more houses on a plot to increase revenue. As cp mentioned, houses are smaller now as well.

    So we started off with a smallish house with a large garden, then extended those houses to be large houses with smaller gardens, and now we have small houses with small gardens so we can't extend to make them a nicer size. All in the name of profit for property developers. We're also paying ever increasing amounts for these houses.

    Didn't quite realise how much I hated this country until I posted in this thread :/
     
  14. chrisb2e9

    chrisb2e9 Dont do that...

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    Yeah land is not the problem where I live. lots of that if you can afford it. Greed is the problem. Its a renters dream come true out here. the apartment I am in right now rents for over 1300 a month and over a year ago it was around 1000. Just a two bedroom too. There are people from not just all over canada coming here, but from all over the world to work. I know people who have a grade 6 education and make over 100K a year. and they laugh at me when they find out that I graduated highschool. and college. twice. But I would rather have an education because when the oil patch dies out in a few years and they all have crack addictions (which most do) and kids (which most have) and a 400,000 dollar house and 2 50,000 trucks to pay for and no education and no real work skills. guess whats going to happen?
     
  15. Amon

    Amon inch-perfect

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    Chris, come to Brampton. Lots of new housing that looks fairly top-notch and within driving distance of workcentric Toronto. A diverse population and generally laid-back. Russel Peters lives here.
     
  16. chrisb2e9

    chrisb2e9 Dont do that...

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    ontario wouldn't be bad, but as soon as I am done in alberta i'm headed back to nova scotia. If you can get past the constant humidity, its one of the best places to live (I think). I would go there now but I make too much money to leave here.
     
  17. capnPedro

    capnPedro Hacker. Maker. Engineer.

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    There are certain estates in the UK where a fire would be an improvement. ;)

    <shame>I wish my house had a basement, so I could live in it.</shame>
    Think about Kevin Smith's character in Die hard 4.0 and the room he has. :D
     
  18. Veles

    Veles DUR HUR

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    Yeah I'd love to live in the basement, would be awesome.
     
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