Many different trades are involved in the construction of a building. In the modern world, which relies so much on the services that are put into every structure, the contribution of the electrician, the plumber, the heating and lighting contractor and the structural engineer can be amongst the most important and the most expensive.

This has not always been the case. Historically two trades have tended to dominate the building business - the work of the mason and the carpenter. In any building from the medieval period to the end of the nineteenth century, much the largest contract, in terms of expense, went to the person responsible for building the walls. Whether they were of masonry or brickwork, or a mixture of both, the masonry contract has always accounted for a very substantial part of the costs of a new building. It was the same with the timber work. Carpenters were responsible for the roofs and floors of the building and joiners provided the doors, windows and most other internal finishing. In older building contracts the person for whom the building was built tended to deal with each of the trades separately - the masons, the carpenters, the joiners, the slaters, plasterers, pumbers and painters. By the later Stuart period and certainly in the Georgian age, the practice developed whereby one of the major contractors - usually the mason or the carpenter - would organise all of the other trades involved and become, effectively, the builder of the entire building. Builders of this type often became involved in the design of a building as well and, while starting as a masons or carpenters might, by the end of their careers, claim to be builders or even architects.

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