Discrimination in Construction – A Real Problem
The number of builders that have turned a blind eye and allowed this curse to invade our industry is staggering. Every day, I see more and more examples of this stain on what once was a great profession and honorable trade.
I’m not talking about racial discrimination, but rather our unwillingness or inability to no longer discriminate between quality work and hack work and the people that perform it, all in the name of progress.
We have accepted the fact that this is just a part of life and nothing can be done. Of course, when many of us started decades ago we were all wide eyed optimists expecting to change the world, but after years and years of fighting mediocrity, many have given up. We have adopted the “good enough” mantra in order to keep our wits and in many cases our jobs, rather than hold onto a higher standard that few ascribe to.
Foundations that aren’t square, walls that aren’t plumb, plans that aren’t read and standards that simply get lower and lower. The list is seemingly endless and yet I understand why we have come to accept it. Too much work, not enough skilled workers and the expectation to keep doing more for less.
Take a stroll down an old part of your town and find an old house and stop and study the ornamental details that adorn it. Many of these houses were built during a time when there were no power tools! Thousands and thousands of hours spent by craftsmen doing it all by hand. Trying to replicate these houses today, even with our hordes of power tools, would be economically unfeasible in most cases. Have you ever wondered why?
Somewhere along the way, the balance between everyday craftsmanship and the economics of business got skewed. Today, with what seems like a never ending housing crisis and the prices of everything, including real estate outpacing most people’s wages, it appears that only a selected few can afford the luxury to discriminate between quality and mediocrity. Both the builder and the client will have to decide if it’s worth the cost. For the client, it will cost you time and money, as quality work takes both. As the discriminating builder, it will also cost time and money, but also years off your life, as the daily stress of constantly swimming against the tide and demanding more from yourself, your staff and vendors will take its toll.
For me, I will continue to discriminate with ferocious and unapologetic tenacity. The tape measure will be my king and the spirit level my queen and I will be loyal to them above all else.