"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."
- Henry Ford
"Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort."
- John Ruskin
There is an old adage in the design and construction industry stating one can have a project done “Fast, Cheap, or Quality…. Pick Two!” Whether you are web designer, contractor, architectural designer, or a husband, in order to build something one really must know which two of these are the most important parameters. Or in other words, which one are you willing to give up?
Quality + Fast = Expensive
This option means the hired contractor will postpone everything, cancel all other appointments, work 24/7 to get the job done. Quality is still paramount and if something goes amiss then a professional fixes it and makes it right. However, the deadline is critical to this scenario, too, and it comes with a cost. The higher price trumps everything else. That is why it is expensive. In the case of our deck, this would have been a professional deck builder or contractor, not me. We could have paid for a contractor and a crew to build it in a week, easy. But labor is not cheap and the contractor mark up on materials isn’t either. Quality + Fast = Expensive
Quality + Cheap = Slow
This option assures quality is not compromised, either. And since quality is paramount one can’t just go cheap on materials. So, in order for it to be cheap one must have cheap labor or no pressing deadline! One works on it when there is spare time. Paying attention to details is important and that can’t be rushed. In the case of our deck, it is just me and my wife. We are free. My vacation time was paid for and I could give the deck project the attention it deserved for a week. But, I’m not a professional. I’m not practiced in the art of speed. I measure twice, sometimes thrice, cut once. Quality + Cheap = Slow
Fast + Cheap = Inferior
This option means one really doesn’t care about the quality. The priorities are to just get it done so that it doesn’t cost a lot of labor and time. Cutting corners is acceptable. Quality is not important. In the case of our deck, this was not an option. Not at my house! Fast + Cheap = Inferior
As of this post, the project is nearing a 90% completion. The deck boards are all in. We can walk on it. The railing and trellis parts have yet to be finished. Plus, we need to put the second coat of stain on it again. But, it feels almost complete. We should have most of the remaining 10% done in the next few weekends, depending on our schedules, of course. The only thing I’m in a hurry for is that sense of accomplishment. I’m not there yet.
A side note: With all the hours working on the project, I spent some quality time within my own head. I came to the conclusion that there IS indeed a way one can get all three… Fast, Cheap, AND Quality! One needs to be Amish.
Amish Quality = Experienced craftsmenAmish Cheap = Tons of free, quality labor
Amish Fast = They can build a barn in a weekend