I have owned 2 of these, a 1995 35', gas powered and a 2000 38' diesel, the latter for 12 years and over those years spent probably 3 years off and on, living in it day to day. After all that, all the doors and drawers still opened and closed like new...real wood, plywood veneer, no particle board, everything glued and screwed.
All of these things are an agglomeration of parts from a myriad of suppliers. The difference is in which parts were chosen by the manufacturer and how did they put them together. The Empress was the queen of their fleet and generally they chose the best parts and accessories that were available at the time. (small example: I was crying to friends about a string breaking on one of the day-night shades after about 10 years and how could I fix it...no problem they said, we've redone 4...on their less than 3-year old other brand coach).
The Empress is set up for winter...furnace outlet into the water bay for overnight and engine coolant heater for the bay and rear interior when underway.
Over the 12 years the coach never left me beside the road but at one point alternator seized (at home) and required rebuild which led to new belts and pulleys (those were probably due anyway), replaced one levelling jack, one levelling solenoid and all the jack springs. New muffler at about year 8. Beyond normal service, no problems with Cat 330 or Allison 3060.
I'm sort of rambling here, but if you find an Empress that has been well maintained, it will be as good a coach as you can buy in the price range. Triple E, unfortunately, is not making Class A's any more, or at least for now. But it's a family-owned company that's been in business for 40+ years and they are going to continue to support their existing products. I've been to the factory and they have all the fibreglas molds for just about anything they've ever built. Might take a while, but they could probably build you a 1990 Empress if you wanted one.
Bottom line, if you like the coach AND it has been well looked after, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.