What’s the life span of a house?

Concrete, brick,  copper, stone products can last a lifetime or a century.

  • Major appliances may  conk out after just 10 to 15 years of normal use.
  • Homebuyers should  consider remaining useful life of house components.

  A house may survive for hundreds of years. But the individual components that  make up the house may — or may not — be as resilient. Components made of  concrete or brick can last a long time while major appliances are almost  disposable, despite how costly they are to purchase, repair and replace.

Examples of especially sturdy products include cabinets in a garage or  laundry room, brick pavers, a concrete or cast iron waste pipe and copper rain  gutter downspouts, all of which can last 100 years or longer, according to a  2007 National Association of Home Builders, or NAHB, study of home components’  life expectancy. Other durables that can last a lifetime include natural stone  or tile countertops, fiberglass, wood or fire-rated steel exterior doors, copper  wiring, wood floors, walls, ceilings and most types of insulation.

Small appliances may die after just a decade

Household  appliances such as a trash compactor, compact refrigerator, microwave oven  and humidifier have much shorter average life spans of about nine to 10 years. A  gas range, which has an average life span of about 15 years, is one of the  longest-lasting household appliances, according to the NAHB survey.

Other household components that have a relatively short average lifespan  include:

  • Aluminum roof coating (three to seven years).
  • Enamel steel sinks (five to 10 years).
  • Security system (five to 10 years).
  • Carpet (eight to 10 years).
  • Smoke detector (fewer than 10 years).
  • Faucets (10 to 15 years).
  • Garage door opener (10 to 15 years).
  • Air conditioner (10 to 15 years).
  • Asphalt (12 to 15 years).
  • Termite-proofing during construction (12 years).

Homeowners may choose to replace items early

The NAHB study  cautions that these life expectancies are only averages and the actual life span  of an individual house’s component will depend greatly on the quality of  installation, level of maintenance, weather and climate conditions and intensity  of use.

Many homeowners choose to swap out house components or appliances before the  end of their useful life due to “changing styles and preferences or improvements  in newer products,” the study states. Tax credits, rebates and the introduction of new models that are more energy efficient and thus less  costly to operate also may spur homeowners to replace items before the originals  reach the end of their useful life. Newer products don’t always have a longer  life span than older models, however.


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