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At a recent conference, I shared an analogy that bears repeating here. The auto industry has experienced tremendous changes over the past five decades. If you look at a car built today as compared to one built in the 1960s, the differences are significant. Safety features, engine performance, fuel economy, interior amenities, among other advances. The real question is, would you pay today’s prices for a new car built to the same features and specifications of a 1960s equivalent? Are old tried-and-true methods better than newer technologies?
Do you remember David Copperfield making the statue of liberty disappear? It was pretty cool, but I felt certain the green lady was not going to be gone for long. I'm a sucker for a good magic trick though. Here's a chance for you to play magician and make waste disappear for keeps.
A UK study of those using the ISO9001 Quality Management System in the construction industry had a number of interesting findings that provide key lessons. The top reason for implementation was increased profits and performance and 20% have shown that they actually achieved significant improvements.  The interesting thing is that 50% of the respondents didn’t monitor any data during or after implementation and so they have no performance data on the impact of quality on their business!
To home builders, speed is a highly valued commodity.  It is not unusual to hear home builders boast about fast build cycles, lightening fast product development, near real-time custom pricing quotes, etc., right?  Yes, it seems we are laser focused on, and maybe even addicted to speed in developing land, designing plans, and quoting homes, but is this speed really important to the customer?  That is a tough question that I can't answer, but here's a speed question I can.
Becoming a sustainable, green builder needs to follow a structured process that allows a builder to shape green features to fit with their particular building style.  Controlling cost is not reserved for affordable builders alone, but applies to all builders.  Yet, the methods used to control cost are very different depending on the type, style, size and location of the home.  I think of my own experience on sports teams in high school.  While our goal was always the same, a desire to win, the methods and means used to accomplish this changed year to year based on the ta
Have you ever looked at a detail on a plan and scratched your head wondering how that was going to work? Sometimes the details that show up on plans leave us all wondering what the architect was thinking? I have talked to countless trades that have had to deal with details that "look good on paper but do not work in the field". Why is this happening?
Last year PB received an official complaint letter from a high level staffer at the AIA, basically saying that I was being unfair to Architects. I confessed to being guilty of describing the reality of continuing problems in the field that result from Architects taking a rather limited view of their job responsibilities.
Often the main block to creativity is actually a mental block. Thoughts or comments such as these can stop creativity in its tracks.
Talking to builders today about improving the cost and efficiency can be an interesting proposition. When the topic is directed to managing a better commodity price, 6 out of 10 builders will respond as follows.” We are at the top of the food chain in market share in the areas we build and consequently have the leverage to obtain bottom prices from every sub and vendor in the marketplace” If I ask how they know, there response is consistent,” we just know”
When was the last time you did some walk arounds in your business, asked your customer service or construction teams some basic questions, spoke to some of your customers face to face? This simple approach can really give you down to earth insights into your business, allowing you to see how it functions on a daily basis, from your customers perspective.
One of the most depressing/astounding/frustrating things about the current race for president has been the complete lack of attention to housing. The candidates aren’t talking about it. Visit their websites and you’d be hard pressed to find any prominent mention of the topic of housing, mortgage finance or residential investment.
The building industry, unfortunately, continues to make the same mistakes over and over again. Green building remains one of the most talked about and least understood aspects of the industry. I recently read an article about the response of the building industry to the ratcheting up of standards. That article only served to solidify my opinion that NOBODY has a universal solution nor understands how to make green building work long term.
Last week I nagged you about elevation renderings, this week the focus is on floor plan renderings. Floor plan renderings are an easy way to stand out from the crowd. The vast majority of builders present a simple black-and-white CAD blackline drawing of their floor plan selections. Some builders will add a little color to the background of the plan and fewer still show landscaping or furniture.
If asked, I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite author, but if forced to choose just one I would go with Antoine St. Exupery.
The idea of running a 100 mile race ten years ago was as inconceivable and foreign to me as the possibility of a 6 year real estate crash.  As it turned out, last month I got to experience both of these.
In the Wall Street Journal on 10/24 an article was published indicating that 52% of US companies were reporting major difficulty in filling jobs. 47 % blame the lack of hard job skills or technical skills and 35% state candidates just don’t have the experience.
Traveling around the country I see a lot of renderings - most of them leave a whole lot to be desired. The worst are the black and white CAD drawings with a computer generated tree or two to add some flavor. I also see a lot of 3D computer renderings that are cold and uninviting. Often 3D renderings leave very little to the imagination. Computer renderings can be effective if they are soft and inviting and the sketchy hand drawn look seems to be the most popular with buyers. Selling a vision of the home is far more effective than presenting a computerized "photo" of the house.
One of the greatest misconceptions about Lean process and methods is that they cheapen the product. Lean is first and always about value, and the customer perception of value at each price point is a critical component. It may surprise you that on a fairly regular basis I have to advise a client to put something back in a house rather than take it out.
November is World Quality Month and November 10th is World Quality Day !  This can be a great opportunity to leverage local and regional events. Perhaps a chance to tour a manufacturing facility, attend a presentation on quality improvement and get to see how other industries are using quality. A great chance to pick up on new ideas right on your doorstep! ASQ and other quality organizations around the world are celebrating this event.
Not a day goes by that I don’t experience multiple builders telling me why improvement in their business won’t happen. The economy, the lack of traffic, the longer cycle times, the bigger builder cost advantage, the lack of commitment from employees, the lack of subcontractors performance, etc…… I certainly know that we all have suffered greatly through this housing depression. I am not suggesting we ignore the obvious obstacles, just not let them be the bane of our existence.

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