A friend of mine has a wooden dresser she inherited from her family. It was handed down generation after generation since it was first made in Austria in 1805. This piece of furniture has seen two centuries of history. It served through the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It survived both the First and Second World Wars. It’s traveled across oceans and continents. It’s still beautiful. It’s still as solid as ever. It still has real value.
In contrast, she has another dresser that’s headed for the landfill after only a few years. It was cheaply made and fell apart after very little use. The bottoms of the drawers bowed out and separated. The tracks that guide the drawers failed. The knobs are coming loose. The body of the dresser is made of compressed dust sprayed with “white” which seems to be the only thing holding the various parts together. No one will ever inherit their great grandma’s particleboard furniture.
Another friend has a nice kitchen with marble counters and upscale restaurant stove. But the cabinets are made of what appears to be heavy cardboard dipped in melamine. It’s not meant to last very long when exposed to moisture or direct sunlight. This stuff can’t be repaired. It has to be ripped out and replaced once it passes its rather short shelf life.
The same “quality” is being applied to our buildings. Slap it up fast. Get it sold. Make a profit. Move on to the next subdivision. None of this will last. The plastic pipes will leak and soak the dust and paper walls. The chip board and wafer board and particle board will all warp and crumble. Such structures are destined to decline at an accelerated rate. At a certain point the cost of repairing and maintaining such poorly built structures will outweigh their real value. When enough of the built environment is composed of homes like this the whole neighborhood fails rather quickly. When enough neighborhoods fail the entire town dries up and blows away.