Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Why Quality Matters

An old house can be there by accident but most of the time it’s because someone cared. It could have been the craftsperson from 200 years ago. Or it could have been the handyman that cleaned the gutters. Or it could have been the arborist who removed the tree against the house. Or the homeowner could put in a sump pump and dehumidifier in the basement. But it was by intent and not by accident. What separates good from bad is not actions, but the methods in which the tasks were completed.

We looked at a house the other day from 1690 that has not been occupied for about 20 years, are barely touched for 70 years. It was definitely neglected, had asbestos siding over the original, a failing asphalt roof, no heat or water, and peeling paint on the inside; but it was absolutely perfect. It was perfect because about 70 years ago they put on the asbestos siding thoughtfully, paying attention to water and moisture management. It was perfect because 10 years ago the owner was mindful of water in the basement and was keeping it dry. It was perfect because the windows were made water proof, not air proof, with plastic on some and storm windows on others. It was perfect because modern materials and methods haven’t touched it.

The death of many buildings is from water, be it liquid water that gets wood wet, the fungus grows, and it turns to dirt. It can be water vapor from trapped air that causes mold. Either way the building parts go unchecked for sometime where it turns back into nature. But how can we prevent this cycle towards death? Well, honestly, it’s all about good work and decent materials.

It Looks Good. Nope, aesthetics have little to do with good work; fresh paint can make anything look good. The old saying goes “Caulk, putty and paint, makes a carpenter what he ain’t.

It’s cheap. Cheap, quick, and good: pick two. I’m not taking about cheap like your uncle who’s a craftsperson did it for free, but expecting something to last for cheap money is ludicrous.

Took a lot of time. Not necessarily. Inexperience can make things take longer but still end up wrong. BUT, intricate, properly assembled, thoughtful work will take more time.

It was really expensive. There are liars and cheaters in every industry, so cost does not mean quality. But what makes work more expensive? Time and decent materials. What doesn’t make good work? Expensive materials and a mindless hand.

Thoughtfulness and Experience. DING! DING! DING! DING! Many craftspeople will take the time to plan a project, going over the various ways to accomplish the task. AND they do it during off hours, when they are driving home, brushing their teeth, or in the shower. They even may do a dastardly thing like talking at work. Imagine that, people who do physical work talking and thinking!!!!

So its not always about cheap materials will making bad work, but mostly it’s the mind and hands behind it. Putting plastic over a window seems simple, but put in the wrong way it will hold water not keep it out. Or even the Mad Caulker, thinking it looks great but making something rot 100 times faster. Or the roofer that uses a 5 year sealant to flash a 40 year roof. ALL work matters to longevity, not just the big things.

So please, I begging you, don’t say it doesn’t matter because you won’t be here in 10 years, cause the work you leave behind will and the house may not.