By any reckoning, a home is expected to last many years and serve several successive generations. But what about the individual components that comprise the house? How many years of service can a home owner reasonably expect from a roof or a door, a window or a whirlpool tub?
A new study sponsored by Bank of America Home Equity and conducted by the National Association of Home Builders takes some of the mystery out of the subject with the caveat that numerous factors, including use, maintenance, climate, advances in technology and simple consumer preferences can have a dramatic effect on product longevity.
The National Association of Home Builders/Bank of America Home Equity Study of the Life Expectancies of Home Components was conducted in the summer of 2006 said Gopal Ahluwalia, Staff Vice President for Research and Surveys in NAHB's Economics Group.
"By polling experts in a wide range of fields, we learned that many home components are expected to last for the life of the house," he said. "Among them are toilets, wood floors, all types of insulation, and fiberglass, steel and wood exterior doors. On the other hand, some components have a much shorter life expectancy. Wood decks should last about 20 years, depending on climate, and kitchen faucets should last about 15 years. Linoleum floors have a life expectancy of about 25 years, and furnaces can be expected to last 15 to 20 years," he added.
"With Americans relying on the equity in their homes as an essential element of their life savings, Bank of America wants home owners to better understand how to preserve value in their most important financial asset," said David Rupp, Bank of America Home Equity executive. Bank of America is the leading provider of home equity loans with a portfolio of more than $88 billion.
"It's important to remember that the life expectancies for materials included in this study are averages," said Ahluwalia. Usage, weather and a number of other factors can influence life expectancy. Moreover, home owners often replace items long before the end of their expected life span due to personal preferences and changing trends.
"For example," he added, "the practical life expectancy of kitchen cabinets is about 50 years. However, many people buying a 15- or 20-year-old house would make installing new, updated kitchen cabinets a priority. Likewise, some home owners paint their homes every year or two, even though interior paint has a practical life expectancy of about 15 years."
The study is available at http://www.nahb.org/components .