Headers, headers everywhere! Nearly every builder I have ever worked with (regardless of geography) initially had far too many headers and/or headers that were way oversized in their homes. Code requirements are typically 250 percent over failure, so designing above code is typically a waste. An exception is that there are pocket markets where customers require joist design a bit above code to avoid perceived floor deflection or bounce. It’s easy to do a quick check. Do a field walk during framing:
We spend a lot of time and effort training our teams and developing them in our culture and so the retention and ongoing development of our talent is critical. But to retain and continue to develop our teams does not just mean spending more money, which in this economy we don’t have. Treating people with respect and listening to them has a huge impact.
The construction industry dramatically impacts the environment, with buildings consuming 17 percent of the world’s fresh water, 25 percent of its wood harvest, and 40 percent of its material and energy flows. 
Lots of matrimony talk lately. From the saccharin sweet royal wedding to the much publicized split between J’Lo and Marc Anthony - some marriages are meant to last while others fade away. The marriage that I am most excited about (save for my own naturally) is the one between Lean design and curb appeal. These two young lovebirds are guaranteed to make it for the long haul.
A discussion erupted this month on the LeanBuilding Group on Linked In about how do you define value to the customer? One of our members was assailing builders who go cheap, installing ubiquitous “builder grade” products. I replied that there are fine lines sometimes. One person's better value can be another's substandard. Not so long ago, vinyl siding was considered almost universally a cheap product. That is rarely the case now though.
I took a detour the last two years in my consulting career in residential home building by leading one of the largest real estate brokerage firms in the US.  It was an interesting assignment but offered very similar challenges as what I have seen in the home building arena for the last 25 years.
We just caught wind of some big news on the customer satisfaction front: J.D. Power and Associates has canceled its 2011 U.S. New-Home Builder Customer Satisfaction Study.
It might not be exciting, it might be work, but a key to a successful builder and home is a strong set of Scopes of Work. Scopes ensure clear communication of what is needed by each trade. In the best cases Scopes use diagrams, photos, links to websites, and clear step by step instructions on what material to use, the stages of construction and installation. This can become the company Bible, every discussion leads back to the Scope. There are no arguments on site, rather it’s, what does the Scope say?
I am not a car nor am I a piece of meat, so please don’t service or process me, I am a customer! But those terms and attitudes still exist. I recently walked into a business and was greeted with, ‘name?’ To which I replied, ‘yes, it is a lovely day!’ Well that wouldn’t happen with your company I hear you say. Ok.
Twenty years ago, there was a project in Denver where the foundations began moving, to the point that several new homes had to be taken completely down. In the milder cases, the builder had to sink caissons next to the foundation as deep as 40 feet to stabilize them. The problem was expansive soils.
Plans, plans, plans, it’s sometimes difficult to know what they should include and what they shouldn’t. After spending the last two years with Scott Sedam and TrueNorth working with builders, suppliers, and trades all over the country we have developed a number of plan dos and don’ts regardless of geography, here are just a few: Have:
How well are your values, policies and strategic drivers deployed within your organization? To consider this let use quality management as an example. So you have buy in from your management team about implementing or continuing quality management. You have connected quality focused strategic goals to tools for achievement and assigned leaders, timelines and metrics. Everything is rolling out! But just how well is this deployed and just what level of understanding and buy in is there really? There are 5 profiles of deployment success.
There are 4 key areas that make up the Quality Management Environment. Core Values Corporate Strategy Quality Performance Excellence Models Tools & Techniques There is a core of values and culture, surrounded by the other 3 areas. The core is where the mission and values of an organization are formed. Therefore, related issues like a focus on green building would be developed.
If you are a home builder or residential designer/architect using mobile devices and other technology for business applications, we want to hear from you. Take Professional Builder's 18-question Technology survey and you'll be entered in a drawing to win one of three $50 Visa gift cards. TAKE THE SURVEY NOW Thanks! -David Barista, Editor-in-Chief, Professional Builder 
As more organizations are being pushed to reduce costs while improving the quality of products so the management of change becomes more and more important. Kotter proposes eight steps to leading organizational change and avoiding key mistakes.  Step one is establishing a sense of urgency by examining the market, competitors, and identifying potential problems and major opportunities. 
Monday morning 6:30 a.m. Jeff the lead carpenter rolls out the latest set of prints for the new Thornberry model. He sighs as he scans the plans and elevations knowing it is going to be a long week piecing together his latest framing puzzle. He has worked for this builder for 3 years so he recognizes what he calls the Architects “greatest hits”, overly complex dormers, overhangs, and gingerbread details. He knows he will be framing this home at a loss in hopes that the next time he frames it he will realize a profit.
As new technologies and methodologies help us to improve our sustainable and environmentally friendly buildings, we should not forget that how we manage the process of developing, designing. Constructing, maintaining, updating and ultimately decommissioning these buildings are equally important. Managing this process with strong environmental stewardship through the support of integrated management systems will ensure that we actually have the capacity to produce more of these sustainable buildings.
We're collecting information about how remodelers use technology for an upcoming issue of Professional Remodeler magazine. As a special incentive, respondents to the survey will be entered in a drawing to win one of three American Express Visa gift cards. You can fill out the survey here.
One of the key difficulties any builder has in managing quality is deciding which quality tools to use at which point in time and more broadly how to manage an improvement team and project.
The EPA’s LRRP lead paint rules put us, as an industry, in an awkward place. We have a rule that is, by all accounts, increasing the cost of doing business; driving work toward unlicensed, fly-by-night contractors; and is being infrequently enforced. It’s also a rule we can all agree stems from a noble goal: protecting children from the quite-real dangers of lead-based paint in older homes during remodeling.


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