Grand Designs is a staple of many an industry person. The glazing sector loves to watch as homeowners stake their life savings to build their dream home. It’s amazing to see some of the creations, some we like, some we don’t. But it’s Kevin McLeod that is sometimes the divisive voice of the TV show. For me, that was the case in last week’s episode.
Attitude towards young architect
The show last week covered a home being built by a single mother for her and her son. It was in green belt territory and the land had been privately acquired through some friends on their estate. The house was being built to a Code 6 standard, which for those who know is a ridiculously stringent method of building, but I’ll cover that in another post on DGB later on in the week. However it was a comment from Kevin about the architect, or rather how he said it, which annoyed me.
His tone was very derisive when he explained that the architect for such a demanding and difficult build was only 28 years old. As a twenty something myself, the tone in which he described him was a perfect example of old attitudes when it comes to working with younger people. It’s as though he thought the build should have only had an experienced, older person working on it, and what could a 28 year old possibly know about a project like this. That’s how it came across to me.
I tweeted my disgruntled views about this throughout the programme and got plenty of favourites and retweets from a variety of people, so I’m not on my own when it comes to this point of view. But more importantly than that, I think the general attitude by the older more experienced folk in glazing and the wider construction industry towards younger people isn’t very productive.
One should never assume
I think the biggest gripe is that the older generation think us twenty somethings don’t know anything. The way Kevin talked about that architects age was a perfect example. Although he didn’t say it, his attitude said “pfft, he’s 28. What does he know about projects like this!”
I have had similar experiences myself both inside and outside the industry. The one which wound me up the most happened last year. I went to go see a previous customer of my Dad’s in his place as he was snowed under. It was for a simple back door. I turned up on time, kept it as professional and polite as possible. Knocked on the door, and when the customers opened up, they looked disgusted. No exaggeration, it was as if I’d turned up to tell them I was impounding their car. The long and short of it is they refused to deal with me, they would only deal with my Dad, and they said that despite me doing my job for 9 years, in their opinion that was nothing and that I couldn’t possible be good at what I did. Never was I so close to losing it with a customer and telling them where to go!
It is this attitude towards the younger in our line of work that is damaging to the wider construction industry. It puts people off from making a career out of their job. Luckily in my case I am far too strong willed to let something like that bother me. But for some, it can be hard to hear and will put people off sticking at it.
What’s really frustrating is the industry has some really bright young people coming through. In the case of the 28 year old architect on Grand Designs, he ended up getting the house passed by building control and to a Code 5 standard in the end. He ended up designing and creating a stunning home, overcoming many very difficult obstacles lesser architects and design firms would have struggled with. So credit for him for not only proving Kevin wrong, but also building a fantastic home which I am sure will be a centerpiece of his future portfolios.
To assume a young person can’t do something is arrogant. We have to be encouraging young people, after all, the Kevin McLeods aren’t going to be around forever.
The worst attitudes are definitely from directly inside the industry. I still get the ‘Thirty years Man and Boy’ brigade pulling the hot dinners routine even after 15 years at the sharp end. It’s always amused me no end to be honest. You’ve already got the time-served bluffers beat when that’s what comes out. Enjoy it.