Is it just me (or my area), but it appears that the level of knowledge and desire to this trade a fallen drastically !
As a Commercial Electrical Inspector I meet more and more "electricians" that just have no desire or "passion" for the trade, it is just a 8 hour a day job. The lack of pride in ones work seems to be going away, and replaced with "who cares it gets covered up anyway". This attitude leads to the lack of knowledge about the code as well. Seems nobody wants to spend the money on a code book or take the time to learn it.
Some days I swear I should send a bill to the companies owners for Tutoring their employees. A co-worker of mine has gotten to the point of " just hand them the disapproval and leave, let them look it up and figure it out". I try to explain the issues and go over them in the NEC, if they are willing to listen...........
Not every company is this way, I do deal with some top notch outfits that go above and beyond. it just seems that there are less of these every year............
Quality of workmanship for the most part in comm jobs varies based on many factors. Comparing an office renovation (by a resi EC) to a 1.8M SF state of the art distribution center, to a tenant fit up (retail) in a regional mall, to a retrofit in a chemical plant, etc. would IMHO be unfair.
THe quality of work in all of the above (EXCEPT the office Reno) has been ‘quality’; there are still craftsmen. But, there have been issues with crews, heard from the foremen. Majority of issues are from the ‘noobs’; lateness, long lunches, lack of attention, etc. Repeat infractions; off job site & back to the hall, or just goodbye.
Recently, there is a shortage of sparkles, seems like only a few have an interest in our trade, both open shop and IBEW. I see a lot of work trucks with “Help Wanted” signs, on ECs, HVAC guys, Plumbers, etc.
Lots of college attendance, looking for that $$$$ job that may be hard to find.
As to the resi workmanship, short & sweet, it depends on the EC. Who is good, has been good; who is bad, still is bad.
Please note that here in NJ, we cannot fail for workmanship, as it is subjective. But as those of us that are professionals know, if it looks questionable (bad) there are a few NEC items to write.
I am an old geezer but I still find everything about the trade and the NEC fascinating. When I was inspecting I was really happy I had no real time pressures on me and I just liked looking at all the cool stuff that I got to look at. Some of those big installations were just a thing of beauty and you could tell the guys building them took a lot of pride in their work. These were usually government workers so they had no real time constraints either Of course there were also some "slap it together" guys and those inspections usually took longer because I was looking for the corners they cut. I also had some projects that were just fun like the renovation of the Ca D Zan mansion in Sarasota It was Katherine Harris' (of Bush Gore fame) pet project. The were trying to maintain the roaring 20s look and still be at current code. I was working directly with the engineers coming up with 21st century solutions to 1920s problems and not let it show. We were "saved by the bezel" (canopy) way more than once.
Greg: Like you say above, I also love this trade, and also my position as and chief inspector. I also enjoyed my time as an instructor at the County Vo-Tech, until the lack of students ended that.
Yes, the job sites are what I also enjoy. Recent state of the art FEDEX, and one heck of an amazing AMAZON 1.8M Sq ft. (And a new state of the art APPLE store) Amazing technology. We also do facility inspections at our POCO HV Switchyard, that is an interesting site, up to 500Kv switching, and a full blown training facility.
The only thing close to a historical renovation is an ongoing conversion of a former County hospital into 68 market apartments. The full exterior had to be maintained. The resi market is either additions, add-a-levels, or tear downs for McMansions. Yes, they are still building them, and selling.
The prettiest EMT job I ever saw was in a prison (Desoto) and they made me leave my camera in the car. This was about 20 3/4" pipes bending and curving down a hall and around corners and they were all perfectly aligned. All the bends followed the same line and they were not radiused like the hickey, they were big sweeps with compound bends. They had inline condolets that were staggered along the run in perfect unison. Ken Collingsworth, the super on the job was proud enough of it to point out out to me with good reason. I suppose these convicts have nothing better to do than make things perfect but they outdid themselves. On the other hand at Hendry a guy bent a pretty much perfect "2000" in a single stick of 1/2", there was wire in it and the light was on. I was the only one to notice it. I hope someone saved it. They said they were going to pull it out but I didn't tag it.
The busiest place nobody knows about is a toll booth complex. That was a pretty amazing project too. Lots of things going on you do not think about.
I saw a job in a Switchgear room for a new data center in Chicago. The ceiling was about 80% covered...but with the neatest GRC bends and conduit layouts I've ever seen. It was for a bank so I ran into the same picture prohibitions that Greg did. I wish I had those pictures somewhere other than just inside my head.
BTW - They had the best method I've ever seen to check the ceiling penetrations (the mechanical room was directly above it). They make sure that all of the conduit and pipe penetrations were sealed by building a temporary wood sill at all the doorways into the mechanical room and flooding the entire room with 3" of water. They left it for 24 hours before draining it. There's absolutely no way that there was an unsatisfactory seal anywhere that didn't get noticed, written up and fixed..
i'm a young guy, i hear this often but all of the old installations i come across look terrible and not just what maintenance guys scabbed in over the years. i cannot think of one old installation i have seen that i thought looked good. i'm not disagreeing with you guys, i obviously don't know how the trade was back in the day.
I think you may have nailed it when you said "scabbed in over the years". No matter how good the original install was, a few decades of changes and repairs will make it look bad unless the "maintenance man" is also a pretty good electrician and that is usually not the case. You start to see plumbing parts where electrical parts belong, penetrations opened up and not properly resealed, conduits field bent with the strapping cut loose and hanging or whatever they needed to do to "git 'r done".