Now here's a funny thing....

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Replacing wall light switches for dimmers the other day and found 16mm deep back boxes whereas the dimmers I bought require 25mm... OK, a fiddly kind of job but just need to knock out a bit more breeze block.

Except when I took the first back box off, there was a very neat looking wooden plate fixed to the wall (inside the hole) fitted with an extraordinarily intricate wooden frame (intricate in that each corner was a housing joint). On the surface of the wooden back plate was two circular recesses, which had it have been traditional galv metal, would be knock outs. All this of course inside a hole in the wall to take a standard light switch.

As I snapped off each side of the 'frame', it became clear that my hole in the wall was now not only deep enough for a 25mm back box but had a nice bit of wood already attached to the back of the hole for wood screw fixings.

Now this type of thing is normally only happens as a result of some serious praying to the DIY gods, whilst offering some small limb injury as a sacrifice:)

So what I'd like to know is was this how all houses were prepared (it's about 50 years old I guess) or did the builder, all those years ago, foresee some hapless amateur electrician crying into his beer at the thought of chiseling out 9mm of breeze block within the confines of a light switch hole in the wall, 8 times:)

Jon.
 
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It would be nice to think you've happened on something unusual, but what you found is quite common in older houses. It's still good though, isn't it?
 
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Yeah, it was good alright, so much so that I celebrated with several beers! It was just so perfect, painless, easy.... must have been a right pain for the sparks in those days, certainly in terms of time I'd have thought.. but things were different then..... 20 fags, fish and chips for 3 and 10 pints of mild and still with change from a threepenny bit.

What made the discovery even more exciting was that I'd been round doing all the sockets and concluded that I had more spurs than a 1950's cowboy film. I'm going to have to have a serious investigation of my socket ring soon, if you'll forgive the expression.

Jon.
 
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I find so much of what was standard practice 20-30+ yrs ago has fallen by the wayside whether because tradesmen these days don't have time to do it properly or can't be ars*d, it's a shame how standards of workmanship have fallen in such a relatively short period of time.
 
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kendor said:
I find so much of what was standard practice 20-30+ yrs ago has fallen by the wayside whether because tradesmen these days don't have time to do it properly or can't be ars*d, it's a shame how standards of workmanship have fallen in such a relatively short period of time.
I have to dissagree. You'll probably find that this house was originally going to have 25mm back boxes then, due to a bit of penny pinching, shallower boxes were installed. If gripfill was around at the time, you can bet they would have used it here.

I have seen masses of poor workmanship by the craftsmen of times gone by. They had some real craftsmen in those days, but there are some real craftsmen in these days too. We've got some right cowboys nowadays, but there were cowboys in the building industry before the word was even invented!

It's easy to get sentimental about the craftsmen that we've lost, but we've got more skills in the building industry now than ever. Did you know that the average Victorian bricklayer didn't even know how to cut a flat arch. They were delivered to site in kit form. Take down one of those releiving arches over a window and, likely as not, you'll still find the numbers on the back of them. Nowadays, the skills needed to setout, cut and construct arches of every type (Flat, Gothic, Tudor, three centred, five centred and even parabolic) are quite abundant.

I know spreads that could knock the "old timers" into a cocked hat. With all the skills to replicate any style you care to mention, using a greater variety of materials than ever (including all those from the past). Other trades have followed the same trend. (with perhaps the exception of Thatching).

Yes there was some good stuff turned out in times gone by, but they also produced some absolute rubbish. Most of their rubbish has now, thankfully, been demolished. Don't let this fool you into believing that, their overall standards were any better than modern day.
 
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I was speaking from experience where you would have had your ar*e kicked if you put out shoddy work.
Not denying that there may have been bodgers around but in general workmanship was of a high standard the percentage of good to bad was better than nowadays where it seems very hard to find workers that do a good job.
 
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I reckon TexMex has hit the nail on the head, if you pardon the awful pun. But to add to his comments I'd like to put my two pen'orth in about materials. People who say "they don't build them like they used to" are absolutely right, that's because it wouldn't be legal to do so! Regardless of the cowboys, botchers and amateurs who are capable of cocking anything up, the tools / materials we have available today, far outclass what was available in days of yore. I reckon it is an insult to engineers, material scientists etc to imply that things have gone downhill in the last n decades. Sure modern houses are "flimsy" compared to their victorian equivalent, but they are much more heat efficient (although could be a lot better) and use far less material in their construction. Agreed that a modern house will only last about 100 years, but that is what they are designed to do.
 
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kendor said:
I was speaking from experience where you would have had your ar*e kicked if you put out shoddy work.
The building regulations and The inspection regimes of modern day are more pervasive than ever.

kendor said:
in general workmanship was of a high standard the percentage of good to bad was better than nowadays
You may have noticed the propensity of builders to use phrases like "it's a feature" or "that's just character" in rather euphemistic fashion. This is actually taking the rise out of the "they don't make it like that anymore" brigade. Look at your average chocolate box cottage. The roof sags (due to inadequate structural timbers being used) Walls bow outwards (due to inadequate cross bracing). Windows are either jambed shut, or have gaps as big as your finger, allowing the wind to howl through. The flooring adds to the charm by undulating like a roller coaster (don't fool yourself, they actually laid it like that!). A healthy growth of mould inhabits every cupboard. There's only one socket in the house that can be used for the kettle, (using the others causes the lighting circuit to go on the fritz). The sound of children playing happily in the garden can be heard from anywhere in the house. (even though the kids are a quarter of a mile away). It may even have a "listed building" tag. Put those same features into a modern home and the whole lot will be pulled down and started again.

You have probably missed out on the opportunity to live in one of the "back to back" houses typical of our industrial heritage, or an East London slum (like my ancestors used to occupy). I found their "And you try telling kids that nowadays" stories, a stark contrast to "they don't build them like that anymore" anecdotes.

Anyhow, since neither of us was actually there and the whole argument is subjective, I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

Like I say, there was some marvelous work done in the past. This is why I opted to buy a Victorian house full of original features. But I don't think the average level of quality was any better than it is now. In fact, in some areas it was diabolical.
 
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kendor said:
it's a shame how standards of workmanship have fallen in such a relatively short period of time.

I wonder if this anything to do with the three day Part Per's
 

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