Children Shouldn’t Play with Blocks

Children Shouldn’t Play with Blocks

When we see a child playing nicely on the floor, we encourage them to build something, anything they want, with the blocks that we have laid before them. From that pile and nothing more than the imagination of that child, the adults in the room sit and watch a tower being built. This sparks excitement for all viewers as the structure grows taller; more words of encouragement are uttered to keep the children building and constructing. Then, as if by magic, a three-foot-tall tower, complete with a sitting room for a stuffed animal is standing before our eyes. The child beams with pride and so do the adults in the room. “Can I knock it over now?” the child eagerly asks, and of course, that is part of the fun. We watch as the tower that was so painstakingly designed and erected crumbles to the floor with the teddy bear in tow. 

The second the last block hits the floor so too does that child’s dream of becoming a carpenter. The same adult that, seconds ago, encouraged his or her child to build and create something amazing now tells the child that college is the only true path, that a job in the trades is not a wise choice. It is as if having a career in the trades is a direction to take only if a person can’t cut it in an office setting. Adults have been telling children and teenagers for years, ‘if you can’t get in to a good college, then maybe you should consider getting a job in the trades’. The negative stigma that has been associated with the trades, especially since the turn of the century, has created a skilled labor gap that we desperately need to work to reverse. 

In Vermont, the average age of a contractor is mid-fifties. Over the next decade we will see a rash of knowledgeable, skilled, hardworking, trades-people retiring without young people to replace them. A career in the trades is full of endless opportunities for growth- both personally and professionally. It is possible to take vacations, raise a family, and own a home with a career in the trades. Working in the field allows individuals the opportunity to challenge themselves physically and mentally. Some of the most knowledgeable people with whom I have had the privilege of associating, had careers as carpenters, plumbers, and electricians to name just a few. With the lack of skilled labor, the everyday customer suffers with wait times that continue to grow by the day. 

So, go ahead, throw away all of the building blocks children inherently love. Don’t dangle that carrot out in front of them if you believe that building is not a legitimate career choice for your child. Or instead, I challenge you to think about all this world has to offer us. Ask yourself, what do you truly know about the construction industry? I encourage open mindedness and an honest discussion about what constitutes a successful career and future. The trades are not for everyone, but importantly, college is also not for everyone. Neither is better than the other. They are just different paths to take so please don’t label one or the other as good or bad. I ask that the trades get a fair shake as an amazing option for anyone’s future career. 

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Copyright 2019 Rob Shea Carpentry

Rot Is Amazing!

Rot Is Amazing!

One of our service division teams was contracted to remove a small 8’x5’ deck landing that led into the front of an 1800’s home. The house has been standing for nearly two hundred years and yet this deck, which was less than a decade old, had seen better days and desperately needed to be removed. Decking boards easily popped off of the frame to which they had been so painstakingly screwed, and that is when the trouble began. Once the decking boards were removed it became quite clear that one inexpensive, but very important, piece of material had not been installed when the deck was originally constructed. There was no drip cap sitting on top of the leger board which tied the entirety of the deck back to the building. Without that drip cap, water had free-reign to migrate behind the leger board and sit against the trim board at the base of the home. This had been allowed to happen for nearly ten years and once the layers of the onion were peeled away, what we found was downright scary. 

This house had been framed from trees most likely milled off of the property. The basement had been dug by hand and the foundation consisted of nicely stacked field stone. In today’s world you would see a pressure-treated sill plate 1 ½” thick sitting on the house’s foundation. This building had a timber that was approximately 10”x 10” x 30’ sitting on the foundation running the entire length of the house. This timber had rotted completely though and now literally crumbled in your hands.  The 6”x 8” posts that rested on this timber, carrying the weight of the second story and roof for the building, were completely rotted nearly 3 feet up. Water has saturated the blown-in insulation rendering it useless. It created an environment perfect for mold to flourish. The deck was 8 feet wide and everything directly behind and above that deck ledger was completely rotten. Now, what’s amazing about rot is that it had spread 6 feet to either side of the deck as well. Rot is like a plaque and, if not eradicated, it will continue to spread, infecting everything it touches. 

A one-day deck replacement job turned into a full day of rot removal and another day of structural framing repair and framing installation. This was followed by a third day of installing insulation, siding, trim, and painting. Two full extra days of work all because a drip cap, which retails for less than ten dollars, was carelessly not installed. As contractors, we are always thinking about installing everything with a proper watershed in mind; water and moisture are powerful forces. Making sure that there is a plan in place to deal with moisture so that rot cannot take hold is imperative. If you think that you might have a rot problem, please do not ignore it as this will only lead to more problems down the road. As contractors, we have seen first-hand what deferred maintenance and shoddy installations can do to a building. Rot is amazing but let’s keep it relegated to the forests, where it belongs, and not in our homes.

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Copyright 2019 Rob Shea Carpentry