Mike Patterson, owner of Patterson Builders-Remodelers, in Gaithersburg, Md., sent this letter to REMODELING editor-in-chief Craig Webb in response to "Moving Targets," Webb's FirstWord column for the June issue of REMODELING. Patterson inferred from the editorial that Webb supports the Centers for Disease Control's change in how it determines the level of concern for lead exposure to a measure based on a share of population at a certain lead-exposure level rather than the old method of using a set number.
I could not disagree more with the last part of your column. Ours is a tough business; one that is made more difficult every year by regulations that are drawn up by individuals with no skin in the game. I don't have the statistics, so I don't know that Scott Foley's assertion is correct. My 25 years of experience in the industry, however, would lead me to believe there is some truth in it.
The idea that nothing is ever good enough is a pervasive one, but it's a pernicious and expensive one as well; pernicious in that it never allows one to feel that something worthy has been accomplished, and expensive, as it forces us all to shave our profit margins ever thinner, in the pursuit of ... what? A goal? How is that possible, when the goal posts are moved every time we approach?
Safety is a fine thing, and I'm not going to argue the merits of the law. I'll only leave you with an anecdote. During the beginnings of the Apollo program, there was debate as to how safe things needed to be. There were many concerns, of course; political and financial, but everyone recognized that, at a certain point, the costs for increased safety would outweigh the benefit. As the engineers put it, each decimal point of safety would cost another some billions of dollars. That is, going from 99% reliability to 99.99% was going to cost a hell of a lot of money.
Moving the goal posts is like adding a decimal; the only difference being that our industry was not at the table. How you could recommend it escapes me.