John Massengale offers an interesting post. It prompted a provocative comment (which is itself probably the key indicator of an interesting post).
One person commented:
I'm saying that New Urbanism is invariably used as a moniker for urban design/spatial layout, and not as a philosophical or build-quality moniker. When a real estate writer from the New York Times writes about New Urbanism, I'll bet you he's not talking about how well built houses are, but how well planned the community is.
That may very well be so. And it makes a lot of sense in terms of priorities if you consider that subdivision & site plan is a 100-200 year (or more) decision. Quality of construction -- and even arguendo accepting your premise of poor quality construction (which actually I do not) -- is something which can be remedied and improved with each owner on an (almost) daily basis.
So the emphasis on the larger scale -- neighborhood platting -- makes sense as the basic layout of streets, sidewalks and lots is extremely difficult to adjust and persists for centuries.