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#tbt, Grading in the 1700s and 1800s vs Today

Updated: May 20, 2022

Tools and technology are obviously much more advanced today than they were in the 18th and 19th centuries but there are several other differences that may be surprising to learn! Tricks, strategies, designer tastes and preferences, necessities, all factors that have changed with the time.

So, what's changed?



In the 1700s and into the 1800s, much of the United States was still being settled. So settlers and pioneers were doing much of the heavy grading and civilizing the land. Much of the area they decided to settle in was chosen out of certain survival requirements (i.e., fertile land for crops, woods to hunt, water source, etc) or was chosen because of the area's frequency for visitors meaning trade is a viable living source. Often townships and cities forming around wealthy or influential residents.


There are still plenty of settlers and pioneers in today's time, but the land available for the pickin's is much slimmer today. However, choosing a home or site to build a home has a whole new, but different, set of deciding factors. Zoning and ordinance laws play a major role in deciding where and how to live while easier transportation has made deciding in a way much simpler. While much of the same "survival requirements" are still presence, they have been greatly minimized as a whole, since the local grocery store has 22 isles to buy what you had to make or grow back then.



Indoor plumbing started around 1840, and by 1940 nearly half of houses lacked water amenities (shower, bathtub, flushing toilet, etc) or even indoor hot water. So there wasn't underground plumbing the builders had to worry about when hand digging or using rudimentary tools to survey the house site.


Not only are past septic and plumbing systems something we have to be mindful of today when starting a house build, but also where current or new systems are going to go. There is much that has to be taken into consideration during the planning phase. Underground wires, cables, are things that can cause an issue down the line if not considered during any part of the process.



It should be as no surprise that most of the tools used back in the day were very physically demanding, laborious, and time consuming. Common houses of the 1800s were made from locally sourced wood. Hand chopped, hand stripped, and with the help of just a few tools, hand constructed.


Technology has certainly evolved from the physical tools used in the past. Not only has speed and accuracy of these tools been improved, but also the safety. Building a home today, there are several codes and ordinances the home must be brought up to, protecting the builders but more importantly, protecting the homeowners.

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