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Re: GBlist: Kadulski comments on housing costs
>Charlie (CeramiChas@aol.com) writes:
>It has been my experience that the consumer buys what he sees...period!
>The root of the problem is the contractor. People do not build houses,
>contractors build them and then sell them. Most people that buy a home
>have no idea what goes into it. They only know if they like what they
>see, just like buying a car.
I agree with Darrin Thornton's comments. It is important to recognize that
there are the builders that are "business" people - that could just easily
be widget makers or insurance salespeople as builders, and then there a re
the "builders" or those who take an interest in the inherent craftsmanship.
Many builders (but I agree not all) will happily provide what their customer
asks for. However, they are not prepared to, or able to, educate their
customer about key issues that should be considered, or to deviate from the
>The contractor and only the contractor decides what materials his house
>will be built with. And he is driven by profits, or he would not build
>houses in the first place.
In our system, yes, everyone is driven by profits. Unfortunately, no one can
loose money on what they do - the question that should be asked is what is a
fair return on the investment and effort. IN other words, how much profit is
>We need to give the contractor better cheaper materials and methods and
>they will build us houses with them. I don't know of a contractor that
>would not use a better materal or method if it could make him more money.
The cost of materials is not the issue. It is what the materials themselves
are, and how are they used.
I think we also have to recognize that there is a reason why the
construction industry is so conservative: namely, the implications of a
screw-up are horrendous, and not many people can afford to cover up their
mistakes or research. Unlike other industrial activities, where generally
there is a full scale research program, so when a product is launched, it
will have been tested in many different ways, it doesn't happen in housing.
Each building, in effect, is a prototype.
If a builder uses a new product or system, if it doesn't work out, he's the
one that gets an angry call in the middle of the night to fix it
immediately, and then may be saddled with a law suit to boot! The supplier
is not always there to help him out either. The innovators don't get the
full respect. That's why the tendency is to do what's been done in the past
and by everyone in the industry, even if that means repeating past mistakes
- but at least he can say that it's "the industry standard".
Builder education is a key part in the R-2000 Program. In the early days,
many builders who took the training, recognized the benefits of what they
were learning. The building science training gave them new insights into the
reasons for past screw-ups, etc. Yet many were still hesitant to actively
start promoting what they had learned - until they had personnal experience,
which is why many put what they learned about energy efficiency, building
science, etc. into building their own house, so that they could experience
first hand the benefits/pitfalls of doing something different. Once they
experienced the enhanced quality and comfort, etc. they were in a better
position to deal with the issues. It didn't mean they all built certified
R-2000 houses, but many lessons they learned were applied to all thier other
work. As well, when confronted with new technologies, they had a better
understanding by which which to evaluate them.
My earlier comment about finding a way to use the mass media to get the
message out, is that like it or not, they are a significant force in our
world. A single story used the wrong way or with the wrong slant in a major
outlet can setback the work that a lot have been doing. (As was pointed out
about the 20/20 item that "debunked" multiple chemical sensitivity)
I guess this is my suggestion for one way to work towards a shift in
attitudes that must come about. It may not be perfect, but it's got to be
done. In another era, it was the religious institutions that were the
dominant socio-philosophical forces in society [and we know that the success
rate was possitive for some aspects, and a total disaster in others - or we
wouldn't have the bigotry and hate we see today around the world - but
that's another story].
It ain't going to be easy - but we got to try and find a way. The changes
are already happening. It was front page news here that climatologists are
telling us to brace for massive weather "incidents" over the next year
because of the massive El Nino. Global warming may well be a major
The solution is going to come from many different actions we all take.
Richard Kadulski Architect
208 - 1280 Seymour St.
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3N9
"Climate adapted, energy sensitive, sustainable and healthy design"
Editor: Solplan Review, the independent journal of energy conservation,
building science & construction practice
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