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Article by Marc Desjardins

History teaches us the fundamentals of achieving high quality work that is esthetically pleasing and durable.

“The bitterness of mediocre work lingers long after the sweet taste of a bargain is forgotten.”

In 1648, Vauban, French marshal under Louis XIV, said in a letter to Sir Marquis de Louvois, War Ministry:

“Several loose ends from last year that are not yet completed and that will never be done, due to, my Lord, the confusion that comes with the multiple discounts granted on your work. With all this barter disruption, shortcomings and renegotiating of contracts, you as an contractor are attracting the pitiful, crumpled and ignorant folk and certainly shooing away all those who are competent and capable of running a business. And if I may add, they delay and increase the cost of the work that becomes even worse in quality. These sought out discounts and special deals are figments of the imagination because the contractor loses just as a man drowns, taking it out on anything he can. For the contractor, this means not paying merchants who provide materials, poorly compensating hired workers, cheating every way he can, only hiring the worst in the field since they are the ones who accept cheap pay, using the lowest grade materials, fighting over every petty issue and begging for mercy on this thing or other.

And this, my Lord, is enough for you to see the imperfection behind this conduct; therefore, leave it behind and, in the name of God, restore your good faith, give the right cost of work and do not withhold the salary of an contractor who has fulfilled his mandate. It will always be the best bargain you’ll ever find.”

Three hundred years later, these words are still filled with wisdom.