Taking this conversation a bit further, out in California, the architecture is not like that seen in the older mid west and eastern cities. We have some Victorian homes still standing, but the images of the great old San Francisco and older inner cities, is either gone or in decay. How were these works of art, built in those days? The answer is by lifetime skilled craftsmen, who mastered the arts of real woodworking. The elaborate staircases, cabinets making, and all the woodwork trim, gingerbread, turned posts, all from quality hardwoods, Oak, Mahogany, Birdseye maple. Flooring was real tongue and groove hardwood, door hardware was solid porcelain/brass, and doors were solid fine woods. Windows were crafted from wood. Fireplaces were real, brick and masonry, a craft in itself. Plaster walls were an art. Compare that to what they do today. . Framing is stamped out sheet metal 2x4's, sheet rock walls with taped joints, prefab fireplaces with metal chimneys, stamped out window frames, luan doors, plastic trim and baseboards, press boards, slab foundations instead of raised, and modular fake wood grain kitchen cabinets. The latest, which I just had installed in my house, was Laminate flooring, that looks wonderful, is healthy, but at what expense of the art of real hardwood floors? All imitation products!
This is what we have to do in 2013 to make affordable and safe housing. Yes they are energy efficient, but how many crafts and arts are now nearly vanished? You could not make an 1890's Victorian home today, affordability, but also finding the old kind of journeyman workers of their respective trades.