Many cheap brick buildings from 100 years ago are gone, where the high quality ones are more likely to remain.
Also, steel Lintel are often used over windows in brick buildings. They don't last as long, but are fine for cheap construction that is not expected to last. AKA the kinds of building that are unlikely to be around in 100 years.
My current house was built in ~1985. The brick quality isn't bad, the walls are much straighter, but the wood is cheaper and the materials thinner and lighter. It might be the case this place will last 100 years, but I wouldn't bet on it. It's a middle market house, for the time, not cheap but not high end.
While survivor bias is important, where I live (London) the main reason houses from 100 years ago aren't around now is simply the war. The stuff from then that's still about - including "cheap" factories and other stuff - is now wildly fashionable and still well-built. Stuff built in the 50s was laughably awful and a lot is gone, stuff from 60s and 70s is going the same way. There are definitely other things going on.
The one thing I really hate about most modern buildings here in Australia is the ceiling height has been reduced. A lot of modern buildings have ceiling heights around 7’ while old buildings will have ceilings of 10’ to 12’.
My house is 1860s with a 12' ceiling. Those other places feel like claustrophobic rabbit holes in comparison.
Low ceilings minimize material costs and maximize profits.
Of course having a ceiling this low is terrible for natural cooling so you then have to run air conditioning all the time costing far more in the long run. I live in a 1920s building with 11’ ceilings and I don’t have or need air conditioning because the place stays cool enough even through the height of summer.
They also minimise heat loss, which is strictly regulated in the UK. Hence that other annoying feature of many modern build - tiny windows.
Plants are approaching EOL and they haven't been building new capacity to replace them. They've thrown a bunch of money at wind, but I think that's been more of a handout to (traditionally Conservative-voting) landowners than a viable strategy.
UK since middle ages was already infamous for having cities (specially london, but not just london) that have energetic problems and rely a lot on coal (and now other fossil fuels), leading to the infamous killer fogs, and to the victorian fashion (in victorian era, people tried to use stuff that would not have issues in a highly polluted air, for example extremely thick and dark curtains, so that people don't notice you aren't washing them a lot...)
Isn't that just implying that most energy is artificially cheap, relative to its externalities?
Why can I own two new homes with 8' ceilings and heat them both(even if I don't live at one for 90% of the time), but I can't own one new home with 12' ceilings?
Yes it is. But if you're going to charge 'real' price (even assuming you can), people with the least disposable income will have to pay disproportionally more for their energy, which is a a basic need in 2015. Plus it would cause ripple effects that are impossible to predict. So the prudent way of mitigating this is with targeted policies, like building efficiency. It's a political decision. Of course one might say 'we should charge everything at the full rate and let the market sort it out', which is a fine position (one I personally lean towards, for as much as that matters) but it's irrelevant to the fact that there are many groups that don't agree. So what we have now is a system with many groups pushing in various directions, and 'patches' for situations where that causes unwanted effects that all parties can agree on (well, a majority can agree on) should be mitigated somehow.
"Why can I own two new homes with 8' ceilings and heat them both(even if I don't live at one for 90% of the time), but I can't own one new home with 12' ceilings?"
So to come back to the issue at hand, I can also buy a 10MW heater, put it outside in my garden and have it 'waste' energy 24/7. We don't have laws against that (afaik). But our policies rely partly on the assumption of economically rational actors, which to a degree and in the aggregate is the empirically verified reality.
In other words, for ever policy I'm sure one can think of 100 ways to stay within the law yet violate the spirit of the policy. That's just the nature of governance, and it works fine in the vast majority of cases. Law is not a closed rule-based system like computers are, and that's fine.
(actually that last part is up for debate; even Montesquieu (who was the guy to come up with the original theory of 'balance of three powers') was of the opinion that perfect law should be just that, and that judges should do nothing but apply rigid rules to facts. But that's getting way more off topic than is reasonable...)
There's no god given set of rights -- what we get to do is what the era/society/legal system we live in allows us.
And what's moral/good to do even outside or against what's allowed, is a matter of philosophy.
People expected to be able to smoke even on an airplane in the 70s. Nowadays not so much. Asking someone not to smoke "within 30 ft of this building's entrance" (a common sign), would seem as ridiculous to them as the regulation of heating to you.
With heating, the government is placing a +infinity price on heat retention for buildings(with ceilings > 8'), but isn't actually enforcing that price in any other manner. Why not just charge progressively increasing amounts for electricity/gas expenditure? Right now, I can have a 100% legal, heat-efficient home, and heat it day and night by leaving the windows open. I wouldn't do that because I don't like to waste money, but that is just like I would not live in a house that was extremely energy inefficient.
Basically, if I want to pay for tall ceilings in my house, shouldn't I be able to, assuming I pay the appropriate amount?
Because they just want to impose a rule for what they believe is better for the environment.
They don't want to make it into a market product.
>Basically, if I want to pay for tall ceilings in my house, shouldn't I be able to, assuming I pay the appropriate amount?
That just makes it into something the rich can do while the poor can't. While indeed it also servers to lower the number of people doing't it -- it's not what any society that holds to high esteem any values besides net worth would want to do.
And I'm not just talking about the "tall ceilings" thing here, which might or might not be reasonable, but the more general question "shouldn't I pollute/waste as much energy as I want if I pay enough for it?".
Somethings we don't allow people to do at any price. Like kill people. Even if the victim also agrees. I, for one, don't believe payment trumps any morals in principle, and I wouldn't want that to be the case.
Whether it happens in practice (e.g. bribery etc), that's OK. But I wouldn't design a system where that's accepted and celebrated too.
Meanwhile my current residence has ceilings so high that I haven't bothered to install some LED bulbs that I have lying around since I don't have an easy safe way to reach the light fixtures.
You can get special poles for changing high bulbs. I have seen them before, but I can't remember what they are called.
Actually I think the pole is just the regular extension pole you'd use with a paint roller. You get a light bulb changing attachment instead.
The downside of pushing the engineering to the limit is the builders often cut corners to make their own savings so that the building does not even make 50 years. Plenty of new buildings here in Australia are having major structural issues after only 5 to 10 years because of this.
It was a newly built townhouse complex so we were a body corporate. Within 4 years of building completion, we were suffering from rising damp and completely loose paving in the shared driveways. The paving was too high relative to the damp proof course and the base wasn't prepared properly.
It took a couple of years of legal stuff to claim on the building warranty.
Having been through this, I now are more acutely aware of how dodgy new building are around Australia. New apartments especially.
High ceilings not only avoid the need for air conditioning (my home has 11' ceilings and no air conditioning), they make you feel better in the space. When I am in a building with low ceilings I feel totally claustrophobic and tense - this is not something I want to feel in my own home.
With active heating/cooling, what really helps is better insulation. In Scandinavia and Germany people are insulating walls in new houses with 40 cm rockwool, or the equivalents thereof.
A lot of older structural "engineering" was figuring out how much material was required, then multiplying it by 80 just in case.
An inspector said, "those are very good bricks from the 30s. They don't make bricks that strong anymore"
If anything, a whole bunch of perfectly decent old buildings have been torn down. Because they were no longer of any use (prolonged vacancy is the worst for any building), not because they were falling apart.
Somewhat of a tangent. Good architecture has three properties: it's useful, it's robust, and it's beautiful. That's a three-legged stool from antiquity, and I firmly believe architects and builders sat on it for centuries. Modernism was an ideological project that discarded two of these legs: only utility was important. the pursuit of beauty was either for old-regime bourgeois or for unenlightened proles, and robustness was not all that necessary for the beancounters anyway, eternity is not a concept for the godless machine age.
Is is also fairly recent that the architect needed to take on all aspects of architecture. For example, architecture training was often taught in the fine arts faculties. The structural issues then were then taken on by the master-builder. It worked, the latter had a wealth of experiential knowledge, an architect didn't need to tell him how to frame a window, or ensure water didn't drip along the wall. The architect becoming first a licensed professional in need to defend his title, then some sort of artist willing a new pristine creation in the world, claimed more and more roles. Now every detail needs to be in the plan almost, less room for correction by skilled craftsmen (who also are thinning out..).
Which began in the 1700s or earlier, with the Dark Satanic Mills.
More significantly, it took a fair bit of time for modern methods to enter into construction. Structural steel and skyscrapers along with many other "modern" inventions date to the 1880s. Modern "stick" housing began largely in the 1940s.
You can find catalogs of old housing, literally, in Sears Roebuck catalogs, detailing design and construction.
Every component in a building today save plumbling, windows and electric is inferior to its complement in 1915. The bricks are of lower quality (to the point there is a thriving market for used bricks), the wood is garbage, and quality of labor has shifted from skilled craftsmanship to glorified assembly work.
My home was built in 1927 as a cheap starter home (upstairs was delivered unfinished for buildout when the owners had kids). It's build quality today would only be seen in a custom home with a very wealthy/particular owner and cost a minimum of $750k. (Current value of my home is around $250k)
I am going to take a guess and say that we are not reading a commented written by someone involved in construction. HVAC anything? I'd love to see you sell a house for 750k with asbestos wrapped around all the vents. Vermiculite versus blown in closed cell poly? Poly versus waxed floors? LVLs? Exterior fasteners? Lead paint? Can you imagine how much longer this list would be if I was not content to stick to residential construction?
I could go on and on. TLDR Housing materials have significantly improved since Calvin Coolidge's time. Oh yeah, I forgot Contruction Adhesives...
The entire floor both upstairs and down is tongue and groove 2x6 planking... vs today's 3/4" OSB.
For being over 50 years old, the "skeleton" is in outstanding condition. There are some very minor foundation issues that I've been slowly fixing with a little elbow grease, and that's about it.
If the drywall and electrical were redone, this thing would be in better condition/quality than a large percentage of BRAND NEW homes on the market today.
Today's track houses have MUCH improved insulation, much stronger moisture barriers, and are much more efficient than even the nicest houses built 100 years ago.
I just don't believe that construction has regressed the way we all seem to think it has. Of course I type this from a 103 year old house which is awesome, but drafty :)
When I was living in London a couple of years ago my house there was a former council house built in the 70s - so it was built to be as cheap as possible. Other than being tiny and having thin drywall everything else was fine.
The same applies to "every generation thinks the next generation is horrible". That may or may not be true, but sometimes there are horrible generations.
What do you mean?
Or there was the boring generation of the 10's, compare with the more lively roaring 20s.
Or consider the 60s vs the more conservative 50s.
In democracy people are not meant to "vote for the best".
They are meant to vote for what they want, as they judge it for themselves.
But it might be this: https://www.reddit.com/r/ledootgeneration/
On the other hand every brick has to be laid by hand. Good bricklayers are scarce because brick has not been in fashion. And therefore they are expensive. Bad bricklayers are slow.