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Study of the Life Expectancy of Home Components

How many years of service can a home owner reasonably expect from the various components of a home? An NAHB study sponsored by Bank of America Home Equity takes some of the mystery out of the subject. In early 2007, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) updated its previous report on the life expectancy of housing components.

In the summer of 2006, NAHB conducted a comprehensive telephone survey of manufacturers, trade associations and researchers to develop information about the longevity of housing components. Many of the people interviewed emphasized that the life expectancy of housing components is greatly affected by the quality of maintenance. They also noted that changing consumer preferences can result in products being replaced long before — or after — the end of their practical life expectancy.

The report states, “The life expectancies of the components of a home depend on the quality of installation, the level of maintenance, weather and climate conditions, and the intensity of use. Some components may remain functional but become obsolete due to changing styles and preferences or improvements in newer products while others may have a short life expectancy due to intensive use. The average life expectancy for some components has increased during the past 35 years because of new products and the introduction of new technologies, while the average life of others has declined. NAHB’s last such study on the life expectancy of housing components was published in Housing Economics in August 1993.”

The 2005 American Housing Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that there are more than 124 million homes in the housing stock, with a median age of 32 years. About one-third of the housing stock was built in 1960 or earlier. Of the total stock of 124.3 million housing units, about 109 million are occupied housing units, 11.6 million are vacant and about 4 million are seasonal. Two-thirds of all units in the nation’s housing stock are single-family detached or attached, 8 percent are in buildings with 2 to 4 units, and about 17 percent are in buildings with 5 or more units.

The NAHB report also includes the following disclaimer:  “This report should be used as a general guideline only. None of the information in this report should be interpreted as a representation, warranty or guarantee regarding the life expectancy or performance of any individual product or product line. Readers should not make buying decisions and/or product selections based solely on the information contained in this report.”

You can download a copy of the NAHB report, “Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components,” from the NAHB Web site at the following link