David Barista is editorial director of Building Design+Construction and BDCnetwork.com, properties that combined reach more than 100,000 commercial building professionals, including architects, engineers, contractors, and building owners. He has covered the U.S. construction industry for more than a decade, previously serving as editor-in-chief of BD+C, Professional Builder, Custom Builder, and HousingZone.com, covering the U.S. construction industry for more than a decade.
Since 1993, Professional Builder and the NAHB Research Center have teamed to sponsor the National Housing Quality Awards — the highest recognition in the housing industry for quality achievement.
The NHQ Awards represent the best of the best in quality-driven home building companies, and the 2011 class is no exception. All three winners — Charter Homes & Neighborhoods, Haseko Construction, and Wathen Castanos Hybrid Homes — employ numerous quality management best practices. Here are a few particularly interesting best practices that caught my attention:
- Process map your entire organization. This step is especially crucial for builders that have had to downsize significantly in the past five years and, as a result, have employees wearing multiple hats. It’s about making the most of the people you have.
- Build teamwork into the framework of your company. Let’s face it, referrals are the lifeblood for most builders right now, so why not increase your chances of earning referrals by delivering a buyer experience that is not just satisfying, but exceptional? Teamwork is the key ingredient to delivering a great buyer experience, says Robert Bowman of Charter Homes & Neighborhoods. The builder re-organized its entire structure based on a team-centric approach to business, and it’s paid off with increased referrals and sales in a very tough market.
- Include all key team members in product development. In this economy, home buyers want more value, but for less money, says Mike Nimon of Wathen Castanos Hybrid Homes. He says the best way to add value to a home, such as energy-efficiency features, while retaining amenities like granite countertops is to scrutinize designs from every possible angle. The company created a formal process for product development that incorporates every discipline — from architecture and construction to purchasing and sales — and includes intensive value engineering sessions to determine trade offs on all aspects of the home.
- Use “hot spots” to address persistent construction quality issues. Beyond a typical meeting structure, Haseko Construction employs a system of construction memorandums called “hot spots” to document persistent problem areas and to spell out the solutions that are provided. The memo includes a description of the problem, a written solution, along with photos demonstrating proper techniques. Each trade contractor on the distribution list must sign off to acknowledge compliance.
For more on the NHQ Awards, visit HousingZone.com/NHQA.