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Philadelphia, Oakland and six other U.S. cities will get free help this year from sustainable building and development experts with an eye toward the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED standard for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND). The others are Dearborn, Mich.; Eden Prairie, Minn.; Greensboro, N.C.; Lafayette, Ind.; Lakewood, Colo.; and Louisville, Ky.
We reached out to dozens of remodelers for this month’s cover story, asking them what they saw as their top challenges and opportunities for 2012. We also asked them to define their “key to a successful 2012.” And that’s where things got interesting.
A study published in ASQ’s Quality Management Journal this month (Jan 2012) found that ISO9001 Certification (Quality Management Systems Requirements) improved workmanship performance substantially in construction projects. It establishes a substantial correlation between ISO9001 certification and the improvement of workmanship performance. 
As many of you know by now Professional Builder is holding three days of plan reviews by some of the top designers and architects in the country during the International Builders Show. I am honored to be part of that group and very much look forward to the event. Here are some juicy insider tips to help you take advantage of the opportunity:
With the February edition of Professional Builder, I begin a series on the evolution of quality management. Here is a more detailed version of an excerpt from that article to come. Be sure to read that.
Walking in my home last evening, I was greeted with the usual excitement of children running around, the dog barking and my wife sharing the latest item in the home that needs my attention.  The kitchen faucet decided it was time to throw an aerator, spraying water on any unsuspecting user.  So, another trip to the hardware store for another “green” repair. 
Trade partners have used the National Housing Quality Award over the years as an application process to gain independent feedback on how they can improve their bottom-line and the criteria as a way to evaluate their own processes. Trades have used the NHQA to create fewer callbacks, lower cycle times and better overall quality.  Best practices include:
Remodeler winners of the National Housing Quality Award over the years cite a range of best practices that helped them to achieve this level of excellence. This includes the following as just a few.
For years the building industry has been focused on sealing the holes in our homes to prevent air infiltration. Initially our concerns focused on improving energy efficiency by containing all our conditioned air within the building envelope.  Builders at all levels are doing a much better job closing the gaps in walls than we were doing 10 years ago.  The question I am asked today centers not on then need to close the gaps, but “How tight is too tight?” 
Many people today still see quality as being about 'incremental improvement' rather than innovation and fast dynamic change and particularly those focusing on six sigma tend to see it as being about 'defect reduction/elimination' only. It is good to go back to the original source and for quality that means going back to Deming. Consider these points for how you run your business. Deming considered that quality starts in one place, top management and it cannot be delegated.
In the past year, during our LeanPlan Workout process, we had the dubious honor of “working on” plans from 3 of the biggest name, most expensive architectural firms in the country (among others.)
One of the benefits of working with builders and customers all over the country is that I get a real grasp of what is happening with design trends. For the longest time it seemed everyone wanted a second floor Laundry Room. The logic was that all if all of the bedrooms (including the Owner's) are upstairs then that is where the Laundry should be. Here are some of the supporting points to that logic:
This short video wonderfully highlights key quality issues that impact the Cost of Quality and avoid risk. It is ideal for introducing quality, risk management or for opening a discussion, presentation or training on quality. http://asq.org/audit/106287/web.html?shl=106287&WT.dcsvid=MjI0MzEyNzg1NQS2&WT.mc_id=EM117917
Michael J. Fox and I have something in common (besides the obvious – talent, good looks, irreverence, witty repartee, etc.)  We both have an incurable “condition.” Fox has Parkinson’s disease, a well-known affliction that continues to ravage his body despite an astounding amount of medical research dedicated to discovering a cure.  My condition is a rare one called Alport’s Syndrome, a genetic fluke that resulted in total kidney failure nearly 12 years ago.
Happy New Year! IBS 2012 is going to be great. Unlike recent years past there is a distinct feeling of optimism going into this event. A lot of builders are looking at this year as an opportunity for growth. If you haven't already considered using Lean as a platform for this growth - do. It will allow you to maximize profits and optimize the marketability of your homes.
With so many definitions of energy efficiency, it is often difficult to pin down what that means.  For the most part, a consumer defines energy efficiency in dollars and cents, based on their particular lifestyle.  For a builder, we hope it is the same, but as builders we often select items that require a compromise on the part of the consumer to achieve energy savings goals.
  Perhaps you heard the story in December about the truck driver that won a Lamborghini Murcielago LP-640 worth over $200,000. A few hours after getting the car he crashed it! http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/truck-driver-wins-lamborghini-crashes-hours-later-220724449.html
Netflix loses 60% of its market and RIM (Blackberry) also loses over 50% of its market, not a great year for what had been some of the strongest companies. They certainly never planned for such an impact at the start of 2011. What happened, well the customer spoke! Both losses are included amongst the ‘worst CEOs of 2011’ listings. This presents some great insights to critical business failures this year. There are excellent lessons to be learnt from these failures. For more information follow this link.
One of the advantages of consulting with businesses across the US is you see the companies that get it and the many companies that don’t. Sometimes observing the companies that will never understand the formula for sustained success can be very valuable. These companies take on values and beliefs that are easy to identify as the foundation of their lackluster performance but they haven’t a clue nor do they want to get it.
I love the easy ones! Scott Sedam and I were implementing a Lean Plan Workout recently and a very simple cost saving opportunity presented itself. Eliminate the tire stop in the garage. A tire stop is an area of raised curb in the garage designed to remind drivers to stop once they are in their garage. The argument is that if they really need this reminder maybe they should not be behind the wheel in the first place.    

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