The consequences are as you might imagine. Here, builders are very expensive, very conservative and will over-engineer even the simplest jobs to absurd lengths. Design of new domestic dwellings is banal, even ugly, but massive. Any nester looking to construct an innovative, beautiful house incorporating the latest building technology and cutting edge materials would be better off moving to the UK; here they will be met with noisy tooth-sucking and head-shaking. And builders here are very, very, stubborn.
My new roof - one of the few jobs here for which I used a profi - is to my eyes still a travesty to which I am not used. The old roof was a lovely 18th century testament of settlement and minor movement, gently undulating with dips, fold and curves. Having worked with English Heritage many times in the UK - very amicably - my instructions here to the builders were to retain the historic form and character in the new covering. No. They spent weeks and threw away a deal of profit on eliminating every historic irregularity with shims, packers and counter-battens to achieve a millimetre perfect regularity. The rows were intense. Three times I threatened to throw them off the job. All to no avail; I could not have found a roofer in all Austria who would build a crooked roof. For their part, having never seen an English restoration, they were convinced I was mad and needed to be over-ruled for my own good.
|What a roof restoration should look like ... unknown to Austrians|
So I already know the outcome of the Grenfell enquiry. The mob need some red meat, so a scapegoat or two will be found. We will be told pompously that lessons have been learnt. And above all, new regulations, controls and standards will be legislated to make it more difficult for our bucaneer, unqualified construction industry to flout official intentions. It will not in future be left just to building inspectors to police the Regs. And this will mean a fee bonanza for the suits - I can almost hear this morning the discussions as professional service firms contemplate creating new compliance divisions.