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Housing in Japan- This explains much.

Mandylion

Omnipotence personified
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I always knew it deep in my soul that someting was wrong. Maybe it was the lack of insulation in my walls, how it is hard to regulate temperature and humidity, why all the wood at the hardware store seems like balsa wood.

While written from only one point of view, this article does point out some problems with Japan's housing.

http://www.hicpm.com/6english.htm

"JAPANESE houses are the most expensive in the world even without figuring in astronomical land prices. A house built in Japan to the same designs and specifications as one in a Western country will be double or triple the price.

"The housing industry is itself in an awful state, but house builders continue to put up gorgeous model homes and mistake the opulence of their facades for real skill and technology. The fact is, you could take the same model home any place else in the world, even to the most backward of developing countries, and still put it up for less than it would cost in Japan. Our housing industry has the dubious distinction of being the "worst in the world."

"Indeed, a certain corrupt synergy has developed between the irrationalities of the building regulations and financing conditions on the one hand and the those of the construction industry on the other. The discrepancies have been "solved" by allowing housing prices to skyrocket.

I also recall something on Debito Arudou's site about his troubles building a home.
 

senseiman

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That is a really interesting article.

Another problem with Japanese housing aside from the cost is just the plain incompetence with which they are built. According to a German architect acquaintance I have in Osaka, about 90% of the new houses he has seen will be completely worthless within a decade of construction. They don't use up to date technology to allow the walls to ventilate and this causes the wood structures to rot.

I saw something of this at my old "Leo Palace" apartment building. There was a wall along an external corridor of the building's second floor that was about 140cm high. One day I leaned against this wall, and the top half of it actually fell down! I almost fell down to the street below myself! When I looked at what was left, I could see the interior of the wall. It was basically just two sheets of plastic siding with some presswood in between. The wood was completely rotten, and this building couldn't have been more than a few years old.

I've read horror stories about this in the Japan Times. Families that mortgage their lives away for a house only to find that in a few years its in such bad condition that they have to tear it down just to sell the land. Its really disgusting.
 
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