Minimum standard as a goal

It strikes me that... I mean, I hope I am wrong about this, but at the moment as I am learning about architecture - how to brace a building so it stands up to earthquake and wind, how to put up a roof, how to survey a site - that when people say that something has been built "to standard", what they most often mean is, something has been built to minimum standard.

New Zealand legislation lines out minimum standards for insulation, for weather-tightness, for brace, and as I am learning about those standards my school is asking me to sketch buildings that comply with those standards.

But the trouble is, I am also asked to be mindful of expenses, and materials, and waste. When New Zealand standard asks that I, say, put at least 8 anchor piles underneath a building to brace it up, I am encouraged to actually keep it at 8, if possible.

The legislation says, at least - but the building gets designed and built to.

Minimum standards of insulation.
Minimum standards of bracing.
Minimum standards of everything.

And on one side, I get it - I do endeavor to design in a way that makes good use of materials and labour so that a building doesn't end up costing more that it has to, but on another hand... I feel uncomfortable that New Zealand standard is regarded as a goal, rather than a minimum standard which it is.

And I do hope that I am wrong and that as I learn more and hopefully start working with people that build well soon, I discover that it is only an impression I am getting as a first year student of quantity surveying.

But I kind of have a feeling that I am... not.

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