THE BUILDING TRADE.
TO THE EDITOR, Sir,— Notwithstanding the improved prospects of the colony, the building trade in Dunedin is still in a depressed condition. \\ hilst there is a good deal of work going on here, the prices obtained for same are such that our best builders seldom obtain contracts at a price sufficient to give their customers a good job, themselves a fair profit, and the hands they employ a fair wage. Thus their clients, they, and their men suffer—the first by getting inferior work, tho second by reduced profits, the third by a loss of steady work and reduced wage. The cause of this is not hard to seek. It lies in the want of union amongst genuine builders, as instanced by the fact that it is not uncommon for one builder to erect the rough portion of a building, then be slightly undercut by a brother buildex*, who steps in to do, the fittings. Ytt “ Brutus is an honorable man.” Then the architects (hero I tread on dangerous ground) are, some at least, very lax in passing work, and some the reverse, so much so, indeed, as to deter many builders from tendering unless a first-class piico can be obtained. But what can an architect do? He is generally inclined to patronise the bona fide builder. Is he to turn the job away ? Perhaps it would be better if he adopted the latter alternative. Then the timber man and shoddy contractor
come in in a sort of partnership. The timber man desires to sell his material; backs the contractor, who takes job after job at cut-throat prices. Then a crash—a bankruptcy—and a fresh start. Men of this stamp are the curse of our trade. They don’t know a good job, and they can’t give one, As long as they can get the work to pass is all they care about; and they never pay proper wages, because a certain class of men are always found willing to work at a starvation wage. List, but not least, in the unfair way some of the men treat their employers, working for them at wages one day and competing against them the next. Many good though misguided men do this. Men who have a little money and don’t want to lose it will work for their “own hand” for wages which, if offered by the builder, they would refuse with righteous indignation. Comment is needless. Couldn’t the builders and the architects combine in a quiet way. The architect to insist upon tenderers having something more tangible than a “timber merchant’s cheque” —viz., a shop, stock, plant, etc., and no subletting or shoddy mill joinery, such as comes from some timber mills, etc.; and the builders, by boycotting timber merchants who compete against them, and by abstaining from getting out plans and specifications at reduced prices to the detriment of architects, whom they expect to study fair trade; also by keeping a “little list” of the men who contract one day and day labor the next, refusing to employ them, thus protecting the men who try to do the “square thing.” And if tho public only knew how easy it is to do shoddy work in the building trade, and make it for the time being look well, they would study their own pockets and get proper builders to do their work, even if they paid 10 per cent, more for it,— lam, etc., Chris, W. George. Ravensbourno, September 3.
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THE BUILDING TRADE., Evening Star, Issue 8002, 3 September 1889
THE BUILDING TRADE. Evening Star, Issue 8002, 3 September 1889
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