1. In this universe, there are two countries that are populated mostly by a long-lived humanoid race--they can live anywhere from 500 years to 5,000. Naturally, they're interested in building things to last. Most of them build with stone, unless it's not available or they're too poor to afford it.
My question is, how long could you expect a well-built stone building to last with regular upkeep? The climate in one city is somewhat like coastal Spain, and another is like the Midwest (Missouri or thereabouts).
I imagine that there will always be reconstruction and repair going on somewhere in their town and cities, but I'm interested to know about how often families and shop-owners will be forced to vacate parts or all of their buildings for major work, and whether there will EVER be periods that the palaces don't have crews working somewhere.
2. In one part of the story, a character is traveling upriver with a companion on some sort of cargo boat. The river is rather large--think the Mississipi. I have no clue what type of boat would carry cargo upriver in a pre-industrial society, how fast it could travel, or what types of difficulties it might encounter other than traffic snags around ports. If it matters, the character is in a hurry and will choose the fastest boat he can bargain his way onto. Help?