Most people have an outfit or piece of clothing that just feels good, and other clothing that is a day-long exercise in tugging, adjusting and self-consciousness. Living in a well-made home versus one that is cheaply built can feel the same.
Cutting corners by spackling a cosmetic layer over low-grade drywall or putting carpet over a too-thin concrete floor leads to surface failures and possibly bigger issues with the stability of the home itself. Taking a look at the areas where rooms come together, such as where the ceiling meets the wall and the walls meet the floor, can be very telling. Cracks, hairline fissures and gaps hint at the quality of the building materials and the stress of the weight-bearing areas on the very seams of the house.
Untreated wood beams and plywood or particleboard shells underneath the siding and drywall can expand and contract, allowing water and ice to damage the structure and pests to attack the wood itself. A qualified inspector often can predict housing upkeep costs just by looking at the home's foundation and supports. Checking the grade of roofing material and its suitability to the climate surrounding the house also is a good predictor of future problems.
A National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) study indicates that 50.2 percent of people in the United States own their homes for at least 10 years, while the number owning them at least 20 years drops to 27.6 percent [source: Emrath]. Many build and buy with the short-term in mind, so choosing a well-built, long-term home can come down to using the right materials from the ground up.