Was 1983 during the period that NPC was building crappy homes? Were ALL NPC
homes crappy, or did they build some good ones?
What should I or my inspector look for if I decide to make an offer on this
house? Foundation? plumbing? cheap fixtures? All of the above?
The house has stood for 19 years and seems to be in good shape, but I know
these things can be tricky.
BTW, I am working with a realtor that I trust, and I would never consider
buying any house without a professional independent inspection.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Congratulations on doing your homework (no pun intended)
BEFORE you buy. Having been in Austin for over twenty
years, I've heard many of the complaints about various builders
- NPC, Bill Milburn and more recently about KB (Koffmann-
Broad) Homes. However, I have no first hand experience to
offer, other than to note that if it is still standing after twenty
years, either the building crew did things right, or the repairs
have been made a long time ago.
Your idea of getting a professional house inspector, to check
the quality of construction and its current shape, is very
important, both to the mortgage company and for your
own peace of mind. Check with your realtor, but I believe
you can structure your contract so that you may withdraw
without penalty, if the house inspection uncovers any
I have no first hand knowledge of any of the builders in the Austin
area. I am the son of a custom builder from another area of Texas and
have spent a great deal of my life on the wrong end of a hammer.
The comments relayed to you regarding the quality of NPC homes is
common to most track builder's products. In my experience, there is a
good deal of truth to these statements, but unfortunately not limited
to "track builders". Many custom builders also cut corners and find
ways to reduce cost in order to sell their product. The profit margin
on a newly built home is very low in all but the most vigorous
My recommendation is to get a thorough inspection on any house before
buying. You may get a quality home from a track builder and you may
get a money pit from a good custom builder. It all depends on the
competitive environment at the moment the house was being built and
the crew that was available at that time.
On the whole, track builders have a poorer track record and reputation
than custom builders because of their lower retail price, thus lower
profit margin potential. Even so, they often use the same techniques,
crews,and materials as custom builders. The crew and the plan are the
most evident factors in quality. I have often seen the same crew
build for both track and custom builders. Then the only difference is
the construction specifications. These can vary considerably, but a
good crew can construct a quality home even with substandard
specifications. It would never last as long as a similarly
constructed home with quality materials, but it will outlast a poorly
constructed home of quality material. Think about that. The only
true way to determine the quality of a home is to actually know the
quality of the crew who drove the nails. We do not track that, so
without dismantling the home, we can only guess based on appearances.
The average buyer sees a 15K "profit" on a home and thinks there is a
lot of room for the builder to bargain. In truth, there is a lot of
overhead that is incurred that cannot be assigned to a specific home,
and also sales and marketing costs that are not assigned until later.
Add to that the problem that if the home is not sold quickly (before
or very shortly after completion) the financing costs soon erode any
potential profit even at full price. Then we can discuss the cost and
availability of labor, materials, and land. You can see how the hard
and soft costs can change dramatically from house to house.
Builders compete on price, and when these cost variabilities are
considered it is no wonder all builders can get caught up in the quest
to cut expenses just like any other business. The big problem is that
their product is designed to last a lifetime, not 30 days. Their cost
cutting often shows up after a year or so.
Get the inspection, condition the contract on all repairs recommended
by the inspector being completed, purchase a buyers warranty if you
still have any doubts about the systems or structure that pass the
inspection, talk to the seller frankly and without trepidation about
any past repairs, modifications or alterations. Get details. What
they say to you is legal representation if you find they hid
something. You can only hold them to a disclosure if you ask the
Do not try to get too picky, a 19 year old house will likely have some
problems no matter who built it. Be reasonable about minor things and
you should have no trouble negotiating a good deal.
On Tue, 02 Jul 2002 05:00:25 GMT, "Stupid Gringo" <top...@io.com>
In article <MRaU8.497860$Gs.34...@bin5.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com>, "Larry G"
This is my .sig...
The AC was shite, the stove was shite, the electrical wiring was shite (the
only GFCI outlet was in the GARAGE - everything else was wired in series to
In article <JraU8.512293$%y.346...@bin4.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com>, "Stupid
This is my .sig...
> That's an important part of any offer you make. I highly recommend
> "Mortgages for Dummies" and "Home Buying for Dummies". I found both
> of them very useful.
I'd recommend Evans' "A Contractor's Advice on Buying a Home". It's
written with the intent that buyers can base their decisions on more
useful information than "Gosh, isn't that a pretty flower bed, but
goodness, look at the hideous wallpaper". (This book is not a
replacement for an inspector; however, it will enable the buyer to
communicate intelligently with the inspector, which can be a great
a.g. content: I found my copy at Book People.
> <SNIP> the electrical wiring was shite (the
> only GFCI outlet was in the GARAGE - everything else was wired in series to
> this outlet...)
That is par for the course around here and meets code just fine.
Funny, the inspector that the buyers used complained about it, and we had to
"pay" (compromise on other things) in order to make up for it.
The garage GFCI covered the outlets in the kitchen, baths, as well as the
hallway light, the light in the master closet, and 1/2 the outlets on the
outside wall of the master bedroom (this was a single story). Seems kinda odd
that this would be ok by code.
Was watching one of the home improvement shows on tv a few days back where they
were doing some remodeling to an older house. They installed the gFI this very same
way. My current house has it the same, as did the house previous to that.
> Kevin Foltinek <folt...@math.utexas.edu> wrote in
> > Karen Kay <Ka...@none.com> writes:
> >> That's an important part of any offer you make. I highly
> >> recommend "Mortgages for Dummies" and "Home Buying for
> >> Dummies". I found both of them very useful.
> > I'd recommend Evans' "A Contractor's Advice on Buying a Home".
> > It's written with the intent that buyers can base their
> > decisions on more useful information than "Gosh, isn't that a
> > pretty flower bed, but goodness, look at the hideous wallpaper".
> To be fair to the Dummies books, they are written with the same
I wasn't trying to bash the Dummies books, just recommending another
or a supplemental source. However, if a comparison must me made, I
would say that Evans' book is very much more about the nuts and bolts
(almost literally) of the house itself, and much less about the larger
process of buying a home. (My description of the intent was slightly
tongue in cheek; a more accurate description would be to allow the
potential buyer to assess the structural properties, reasonable
expected long term maintenance requirements, immediately required
maintenance and possibly associated more serious problems, and so on.)
> > (This book is not a replacement for an inspector; however, it
> > will enable the buyer to communicate intelligently with the
> > inspector, which can be a great value.)
> I didn't have any problem with this.
Nor was I trying to imply that you were, but certainly some people
(for example, those who don't know the difference between a rafter, a
joist, and a stud) might not be able to maximally exploit the
opportunities provided by following the inspector around and paying
attention and asking questions.
There is nothing wrong with a single GFCI protecting a whole circuit anymore than there
is anything wrong with a single circuit breaker protecting the entire circuit, and in
fact, it is likely that the circuit breaker is a combination of breaker and GFCI.
PS: Nothing is wired in "series" in a typical home. All outlets, lights, etc. are
wired in PARALLEL into the same circuit breaker/GFCI.