I don't know how far back the change occured - I suspect after Allentown
the first tract houses (ie. build 400 units at a time - with separate
for each major task - excavation, rough plumbing, forming, pouring ,
framing and subflooring, wiring, plumbing, heating and ducting, lath &
plaster or dry wall, electrical finishing, finish carpentry, painting,
installers, . . .) Crews did ONE thing - over and over and over - and
had no idea what was to be done next. So the foundation crew screw ups
were left for the framers to fix, the framers left screw ups for the
rock guys and the sheet rock guys got good at furring walls and hiding
things under mud, what screw ups they left would be taken care of by
the painters and trim carpenters, ...
I've got a house that was built in 1954 - a tract house - one of four
floor plans and two rooflines for each floor plan. I've done a LOT of
remodeling over the years - and found walls are seldom plumb or
corners square. On the other hand, I've worked on some old victorians
that probably started out square and plumb, but time and settling
have affected the original attention to detail.
Then there's my oldest, an ex-marine who became a carpenter's
helper after getting out of the marine corp. He was fortunate to
be taken under the wing of an old school "carpenter" and learned
to do things both right - AND quickly and efficiently. So when it
came time to build his own place - yes he hired subs - but he checked
their work BEFORE handing over a check - and did all the framing
himself, with help from his BIL - who was paid going wages.
Since the site is about 8 houses down the street, I'd stop buy around
lunch time to get the tour of what had gotten done - with details
of "challenges" with his solutions. Unlike his wife and mother, who
know nothing of what's involved in building a house from the dirt up,
I could appreciate what he was doing and ask leading questions which
would give him the opportunity to brag a bit. (mitered corners on
facia boards on the end of the rafters - so there's no end grain
exposed to the weather, plumb and square methods, trim out tricks,
He subsequently got his general contractor's license, passing the
test on the first try - just as the building boom was ending - and
with it, his job with an upscale remodeling outfit (MINIMUM jobs
are $175K - bathrooms, and typical jobs are $350K kitchens).
Tough times coming for The Trades - which is why he's applying
for the California Highway Patrol. There will ALWAYS be speeders
and drunk drivers so there's good job security.
The unfortunate thing about our educational system is the lack
of "trade schools". If you want to learn problem solving and
develop discipline and creative thinking, engineering and computer
science aren't the only place to develop those skills. Just hand
a pair of metal shears and some galvy sheet to an engineer and
ask them to make a rain gutter down spout. Or better yet, have
them build a set of stairs, with a landing - then do the hand rails
Oh for the Good Old Daze?