How to Determine the Value of “Craftsmanship”

When it comes to craftsmanship, how much is too much? Is there a limit to the precision one can expect on their project? Seeing a paint stroke or maybe a gap in wood work, when does it become a do-over? When do you accept it as a standard tolerance in construction?


Perfection is unobtainable. There, I said it. No matter how hard you try to make that shelf level, it’s not EXACTLY level. There are tolerances built into the standards of what is acceptable construction.  Typically, larger projects have these tolerances spelled out in their specifications.  If there isn’t a spec, it might be worth having a conversation before the project begins. What’s level? Is a half inch out of level okay in a ten foot span? Not sure, but it’s worth talking about it.

What if you want your builder to go that extra step and pay extra close attention to detail? Maybe for a fireplace mantel, will it cost more? Maybe, or maybe not, having the conversation before construction begins, and hopefully during bidding will make sure it’s covered in the pricing.


Why would perfection cost more? Having a small tolerance for gaps, lets say one sixteenth of an inch between wood paneling may mean purchasing higher quality floor boards. Or, not seeing any form of blemishes on a new wall might mean switching to a plaster skim coat rather than standard mudded joints. Which one do you think costs more?


Paying closer attention to tolerances usually means spending more time working to get it right. If you have a very tight building schedule, you may not have room to allow for the extra time needed.


Using custom cabinetry as an example, maybe you want a special piece of custom glass installed in your new kitchen cabinets. Maybe you’re looking for hand made glass to match something else already built in the house. If it’s no longer available, hopefully it can be reproduced to match the existing. Sometimes the reproduction just doesn’t look right.

Complete your design.  Specifying any special tolerances or unique materials before a project is bid will help keep your project on track!


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