How long did it take to build an old house?

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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candy-factory
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:48 pm

How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by candy-factory »

This year our trusty and reliable foursquare turns 80, built in 1932. In fact I want to have a little party called "The Old Lady Turns 80" :D

I'm truly an old house lover, over the past few years spending hours at the library and tax office trying to find details of our house. In my search, I found the original sale of land from April 1932 (which we have a copy of in our front hall, so cool!). Using this, I went to the library and actually found a mention on the front pg of the July 1, 1932 city newspaper- it was commenting on the June building permits and actually named our address and the original owner!

From there, I get lost. The original owner was never listed as actually living at the house for another 10 years, but other people where named living there from 1932- 1942? Was it common to rent out portions of our house in the 30's to others for 10 years?? The original owners wife eventually sold it in 1977.

my question- in order to figure out the missing piece of the puzzle, I need to know how long it would have taken to build a foursquare in 1932. any idea? if they took out a building permit in June, when do you think it would be move in ready?

tudorrevival
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Re: How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by tudorrevival »

Yes, during the Great Depression it was common to take in boarders to make ends meet.
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Alexander
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Re: How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by Alexander »

Interesting, My fathers older brother built his home in 1931 and before he and his wife moved in, it was found she had TB and was sent off to a clinic for a period of time. the depression hit hard and he rented the house for several years moving home with his father. She returned from the clinic and they moved in with an aunt for several years until they were back on their feet and eventually moved into the house after about 7 years had passed. She died in 1990 and the house was sold to one of her grandsons but if you researched it like you did it was much the same story. John built the house and rented it for years before they could afford to move into it.

The people in my house rented rooms to men from the quarry. Interesting enough they rented a bedroom to two single men that slept in one double bed. The guys eventually became successful and married women and moved into homes of their own. Seems people were not as hung up back then as people seem to be today. During the depression money was hard to come buy and many of my Aunts had borders.

Alexander

CivilWarHome
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Re: How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by CivilWarHome »

I have the abstract for our property and the house changed hands so frequently that it has become more confusing than helpful. I think someone said it was to avoid taxes. So then I tried figuring out who on the abstract are family members and who are not. I haven't gotten very far.

I never thought about renting properties back in those days. I'll have to keep that in mind!
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downtowndahlgren
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Re: How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by downtowndahlgren »

One way to find out is to check records at ancestry.com. I was researching my mother's family and discovered that her grandmother, with whom she spent her childhood summers, regularly had long-term boarders in the house. Each census counted who lived at a particular address, so it provides a wonderful record. For my own house, I know from the deed and land records that the original owner/builder bought the land in September 30, 1926; borrowed $1,000 from the local banker in November, 1926; and the house was completed by the time the new land records came out in June 1927. And the census records show that only he and his wife lived there until he died and then his widow sold it in 1950.

Texas_Ranger
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Re: How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by Texas_Ranger »

I'd venture a guess and say It shouldn't have taken more than half a year to build a middle-class wood framed house back then. Around here, even huge brick buildings were put up in 1-2 years and I think brick masonry is considerably more time intensive than framing. Labor was cheap back then and they often had plenty of workers on site.
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shizzy
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Location: Minneapolis

Re: How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by shizzy »

All of the houses on my side of the block share the same basic layout with the exception of Chimney location and trim details. My house is 1930 and some of the houses on the block are 1931. Not sure what all that would mean, but as far as I can tell the houses were built at the same time.

triguy128
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Location: Keokuk, Iowa

Re: How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by triguy128 »

Once you clear the lot and break ground, labourers and tradesmen were readily available, especially during the depression, so I don't think it took much longer than a custom home today takes to build. Probably a single construction season in 3-4 months.

I've seen stories of Sears kit homes assembled in about 7 months... done mostly by a homeowner themselves.
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Previous home - 1968 single story Ranch/Colonial, 1200sqft - 11 windows
Current home - 1925 2 story Beaux Arts Neo-classical overlooking the Mississippi River, 3200sqft - 48 Windows

candy-factory
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Re: How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by candy-factory »

Thanks! So it would be reasonable to think that a permit taken out in June 1932 could result in the house being occupied by late 1932.

I also find it bizarre that a recently married couple would build a house and immediately rent out a room to someone else while living elsewhere. Hmm, there must be more to this story. Back to the archives :lol:

triguy128
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Re: How long did it take to build an old house?

Post by triguy128 »

Well, if the owners had just lost their job, and been forced to take a lower paying job, they might be forced to rent out their home to avoid foreclosure.... and losing all of your equity. The real estate market really flattened out. Just look at how common 1920's homes are compared to 1930's or 1940's homes.
1925 Neo-Classical

Previous home - 1968 single story Ranch/Colonial, 1200sqft - 11 windows
Current home - 1925 2 story Beaux Arts Neo-classical overlooking the Mississippi River, 3200sqft - 48 Windows

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