Combined products or old world craftsmanship.

BricklayerAs with many of my posts, this one came from a conversation I had with a colleague of mine. I had just saw a new building science product that combined an air/vapour barrier membrane adhered to a rigid exterior cement board. This product would be prepared in the factory. The idea behind this, and I am sure quite it’s the same for a few other products, is to take the “guesswork” out of construction and to make sure there are more safeguards site supervision isn’t the only thing standing in the way of a good job and a bad one.

I started asking myself – would the increased usage of more convenient (or foolproof) products affect the end goals of an energy efficient building, or never mind that, a properly constructed building? I feel that there are certainly negative effects to too many foolproof products since that would invite less capable contractors and labourers to construction, at the very least, I can see the following:

  1. It would give a false sense of security to labourers to be less conscious of what they are doing (“Hey, it’s prepreg’d!”)
  2. It introduces an additional level of manufacturer approval (which I have never felt adequate)
  3. If it’s a proprietary system, any repairs will likely have to be completed through “trained and authorized installers”

Most of you know the old adage “practice makes perfect” and most of you would likely agree that practice makes you work faster. So a product that supposedly save you time would mean very little to a guy with 15 years experience cause he’s pretty fast with the old process as is. I can see how a younger labourer would love the foolproof product. There is also the matter of warranty, it further complicates the matter when components fail and consultants have to determine the source of the failure.

I think at the end of the day, new convenient products might be better suited for DIY’ers replacing failed components in their homes. The scale of application and the expected users’ skills can better be managed by the products’ factory quality control.

As always, I would love to hear any of your comments on this and previous articles.

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About eatonkwan

Engineer by profession, interests lie in environmental development, LEED and sustainable development.
This entry was posted in Building Code/LEED, Reduce Reuse then Recycle, Technologies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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