They don’t build ‘em like they used to. You’ve heard the phrase, right? In some ways the cliché can be dismissed as “old-folk” talk. Why would we build the way we used to? Not much is the way it used to be. What’s so great about the way we used to build, and what’s wrong with the way we’re building now?
Construction is different these days, as opposed to 40 years ago. There are different pressures, processes, tools and methods. Constructing buildings is not getting easier; the process as a whole continues to complicate itself: demanding schedules, incredibly tight budgets, increasing owner expectations, tighter regulations, more oversight, more complications, etc. To deal with all of that, fewer workers are asked to do more work in less time. Quality is being set aside to allow for greater quantity, and for a good majority of the construction industry, the fun has been taken out of it.
Opportunities for great success are getting slimmer. Jobs are being given to the lowest bidder without regard to quality. Because of this, quality is being fought over after-the-fact in specifications and contracts instead of conscience and heart. It is no surprise to see that pride in the construction industry is trending downward.
The connection between pride and craft or quality is an interesting one. Which is it: one who is proud will do better work, or one who does better work is more proud? You love your job because you’re good at it, or you’re good at your job because you love it.
The general assumption is that a laborer brings to the job a certain level of pride and that pride is directly reflected in the quality of work performed by said individual. This is sort of a pessimistic way of looking at it when you really think about it. If this is true, then the supervisor, manager or whoever is in charge is off the hook, right? If the person who hired the guy didn’t check first to see whether or not he had pride, how could they be charged with ensuring the quality of his work? They have no control over this personality trait, this inherent quality, this God-given will to do well. There is no hope.
While this is in part just a matter of semantics, it is an important issue to discuss. Recognizing the importance of craftsmanship and its relationship to pride will aid tremendously in improving both quality control and worker moral.
What tilt-up offers
With tilt-up concrete construction, contractors are discovering inherent opportunities for a renewed focus on craftsmanship. Because of this, the satisfaction of their clients and the pride among its crews are skyrocketing.
One would not normally think of a four-story office building as being handcrafted. Often they are not; they are assembled. While some are made on site, a large majority of components come to the site and they are assembled according to the plans, specifications and manufacturer’s instructions. Open up a current architectural magazine and you will discover pages and pages of products to be attached to a building. The typical office building these days is an assemblage of these bells and whistles.
One exception to this trend is a tilt-up concrete building. A form of precast concrete construction, site-cast tilt-up panels can be related both to plant-cast precast, in the sense that it is cast in a location other than its final location, and to cast-in-place concrete construction as it is formed and poured on-site.
To appreciate the inherent opportunities for craftsmanship afforded by tilt-up concrete construction, one needs to look no further than the well recognized benefits of choosing the building system in the first place.
Time is quality. You’ve saved it, now put it to good use. While time most definitely is money, it is also directly related to quality, and because one of the greatest benefits of tilt-up concrete construction is speed, there is more time to focus on it.