Which is better — old construction or new?
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.