Which is bet­ter — old con­struc­tion or new?

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - News - Tim Carter

I could prob­a­bly write a small book about old con­struc­tion ver­sus new con­struc­tion, so please un­der­stand this tiny col­umn will not do the topic jus­tice.

It’s prob­a­bly fair to say the email I re­ceive is a sta­tis­ti­cally rel­e­vant sam­pling of the prob­lems most home­own­ers face here in the U.S. I get vast amounts of emails from home­own­ers who suf­fer from poor work­man­ship. I’d ven­ture to say that to­day’s work­force in the res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion in­dus­try, as a whole, is not as con­cerned about qual­ity as the crafts­men from 150 years ago.

Back then, many work­ers con­sid­ered what they did a vo­ca­tion. They made it a ca­reer choice and took lots of pride in what they did. To­day it seems that many work­ers treat what they do each day as a job. There’s a vast dif­fer­ence be­tween a vo­ca­tion and a job.

Let’s touch for a mo­ment on ma­te­ri­als.

Those of us who have decades of re­mod­el­ing ex­pe­ri­ence can tell you that the lum­ber used in older homes was very dif­fer­ent from what you can get to­day — it is more rot re­sis­tant and stronger.

What about plas­ter? You can take your fin­ger­nail and press on a mod­ern wall made from dry­wall and cre­ate a de­pres­sion. Try it. For­get about do­ing that to an older plas­ter wall. A prop­erly mixed plas­ter with a white lime fin­ish coat has a com­pres­sive strength that ap­proaches 3,000 pounds per square inch. In other words it’s rock-like ma­te­rial.

I’ve been a mas­ter plumber since age 28. While mod­ern PVC drain pipes have many pos­i­tive qual­i­ties, I’ll take cast iron all day long.

Please don’t mis­un­der­stand me. There are many mod­ern ma­te­ri­als that are far su­pe­rior to the ma­te­ri­als of old. We have bet­ter tools to­day that make us more pro­duc­tive and more ac­cu­rate, but you need to have them in the hands of the peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in pro­duc­ing the best prod­uct.

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