In Part 2 of his article, Mike Anticich, marketing manager of Flashman Flashing Systems Ltd, is convinced that education is the only practical means of achieving best practice methodology to raise industry standards.
Education is the only practical means of achieving best practice methodology. Building quality homes is a reward in itself and, in the final analysis, is the least expensive practice and the most satisfying to all parties.
A tradesman is, by nature and motivation, a kinesthetic learner. That is, he or she learns the craft by doing. Here is another old saying, this time Chinese: “I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do and I understand!”
These old sayings are full of truth and wisdom, having proved their value over the centuries.
Tradesmen must be taught so that they understand the whole process of building. These days, we train “specialists” who handle small parts of the building process but, at best, have a limited understanding as to how the whole comes together — the interplay of one aspect of the building with another.
Building process now fragmented
Sadly, I cannot see a return in the near future to the knowledge base of earlier generations because our building methods are so production-oriented in widely dispersed offsite locations.
The building process is now fragmented as many people carry out jobs that individual builders once performed.
Unless the current building control regime is lifted to a new level of inspection and responsibility, providing much needed hands-on advice (which is never going to happen in this liability-focused world we live in), I can only see quality control of our buildings being handed over to private business.
That is, on-site expert project managers or clerks of works running all jobs to assure the delivery of high quality buildings.
Why? Because people do what is inspected, not what is expected! These highly trained clerks of works or building surveyors will be a new breed of quality control officer insisting on quality and best practice.
How can we ever have widespread acceptance of best practice methodology when government-sanctioned Building Code and compliance documents allow, and therefore endorse, minimum standards?
This new breed of independent building police would have to undergo extensive practical and theoretical training, and develop skills and knowledge that can be explained and demonstrated on-site to an increasingly poorly trained and unsupervised workforce.
They will need to specialise in various building systems and materials, and expertly oversee a wide range of work. They will also be expensive. Who pays?
The alternative is to go back to the old ways and teach builders how to build. That is, to frame houses, set out and build roofs, flash properly and plan ahead, allow for other trades and to maintain a high degree of finishing skill.
This is the direction I would like to see building take as it provides a real and valuable depth to the trade and job satisfaction to all concerned.
It will make tradespeople valuable and even usher in a revival of the cottage industry builder and middle-to-larger companies that can challenge those housing companies that presently control the market and prioritise cost-cutting.
Even if it is unnecessary to build a truss or frame a roof, knowing how to do it is of immense value!
In the meantime, if none this should actually happen, it is essential that each phase of the building process is simple, efficient and carried out by properly trained specialists.
It is an indisputable fact that one of the most important, problematic and topical building issues is flashing. Since 50% of leaks in leaky homes occur at the window and door junctions, it is vital that this work is carried out by specialists.
For the first time in the industry there is a proprietary, Branz-appraised and vigorously tested window and door flashing system available that is installed by skilled and properly trained technicians.
Along with fellow director Steve Hotton, a registered master builder and project manager, Flashman invented a highly innovative extruded aluminium window and door flashing system that is New Zealand-designed, manufactured and fabricated to the precise window and door sizes and installed only by Flashman flashing technicians.
The system is rated as Specific Engineered Design and tested several times over four years in the Branz Weathertightness booth in winds and rain up to 180km/h.
This combination of technology and installation by skilled and properly trained Flashman installers eliminates leaks at these vital junctions.
All the responsibility, accountability and the liability for fitting these flashings which assure a weathertight seal in extreme conditions at the window or door junction is taken care of at a price that compares or is better than conventional flashing methods and materials.
The piecemeal on-site construction carried out by many different and varied specialist tradesmen seems to be the way of the future.
Councils are so risk averse they are no longer able to provide on-site advice.
Therefore, work carried out by many specialist trades on site who provide warranties and producer statements on completion of the work seems to be the way of the future.
Whether this is a good or a bad thing is open to question, but I believe it is here to stay.