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.
The NHQA application document is not simply the method of applying for the NHQA, it is an excellent overview of your business and a key method for conducting organizational wide self-assessment to the NHQA Criteria. The application is also a great support document to add to a business plan, as a key component of your strategic planning and a wonderful document for new employees to quickly understand your business and the organizations history.
Receiving a NHQA feedback report can result in a freeze due the amount of Opportunities for Improvement (OFI’s) reported, but remember even award winners receive OFI’s!  They are after all the real benefits of the process it is through these that an improvement plan can be developed.  However, the number of OFI’s can be overwhelming and result in the OFI’s being sidelined and no action plan being put into place.  In addition many organizations take offense at the OFI’s and regress as a result.
Making the cut for a National Housing Quality Award (NHQA) site visit is a major achievement, however, quite naturally many are anxious about the process and view the arrival of a team of Judges as a stressful experience.    This stress often arises from the perception that absolutely no mistakes should be made during the site visit and as a response some applicants actually avoid the Judges as much as possible during the visit.  While it is natural to be nervous about a visit it should be seen as an opportunity.  The Judges are not visiting to tear apart the organi
  A Quality Management System or QMS refers to what an organization does to manage its processes, or activities, so that its products or services meet the objectives it has set itself or the requirements and standards set by other groups or standards. ISO9001 is an international standard used by all industrial sectors including construction. This focuses on the customer, leadership, involvement of people, processes, systems approaches, continual improvement, factual decision making and supplier relationships. The aim is to build on consistency and communication.
Almost 90 percent of Americans think owning a home is still an important part of the American dream, despite the current housing market. That's according to a new New York Times/CBS poll released late yesterday. At the same time, only 49 percent of respondents said housing is a safe investment and 45 percent said it was a risky one. Other highlights of the poll:
The concept of lean architectural design is often misunderstood. Elimination of design- induced waste in both product and process is the overriding goal of Lean Design. The builders who “get it” know that they must eradicate waste from their plans in order to not be merely competitive, but to survive in today’s economy. Our experience demonstrates that up to 60% of construction waste originates through poor or misdirected planning efforts. This blog post is the first in a series which will outline the key principles of lean design.
I must admit, as an architect involved heavily in the home building business for the last 20 years I have never come across the concept of “Brownies vs Muffins.” During a Lean Plan Workout for a large regional builder, Jim, from the concrete supply company brought this concept to our attention. Jim is a salty old timer who has experienced dealing with many different methods of pouring concrete.
“I thought I saw it once. Rooms designed in twelve foot dimensions, footing dimensions in 24” increments. Sheetrock scraps wouldn’t fill a wheelbarrow. My phone never rang, the trades had all the information they needed and only the information they needed. Then just like that it disappeared, leaving me to wonder if I was only dreaming.”
This year 69 organizations have applied for the nation's highest recognition for organizational performance excellence the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award which Professional Builder Magazines, National Housing Quality Award is based on.  This years Baldrige applicants are from manufacturing, service, small business, healthcare, education and nonprofit/government sectors. So despite the recession organizations are turning to Baldrige as a key way to drive improvement and create return on investment. So what ROI evidence is there?
SAN FRANCISCO -- One of my first stops on the PCBC show floor was to visit my friend Dave Wilson of Liners Direct, a manufacturer of acrylic bath products that is pushing the innovation envelope in many ways.
Notes from PCBC 2011 SAN FRANCISCO – This annual conference and trade show for builders hosted by the California Building Industry Association for more than 40 years has certainly seen frothier times. In 2004 and 2005, exhibits sprawled across three large show floors. This year, it fits neatly into one hall anchored by a bedrock stable of exhibitors and attendees.
Last month, the Professional Builder editorial team hosted judges for our annual National Housing Quality Awards program, which for the past 18 years has honored the best of the best home builders, remodelers, and trade contractors for their quality management systems and processes.
Congratulations go out to Iris Harrell and her Mountain View, Calif., remodeling company. Harrell Remodeling was recently named by Inc. magazine as one of the top workplaces in the country. The editors recognized Iris and her company for the Employee Stock Ownership Plan they have in place, amongst other successes. You can read more at Inc.'s website.
The 2011 Housing Giants Ranking Report shows that the Housing Giants are taking advantage of this slow period to focus on what they see is the top opportunity, working on improving operational efficiencies to boost profit margins. (Professional Builder Magazine, May 2011, p 28-44)
So I don't know what to make of this one, posted earlier today on HousingZone:BuildFax Remodeling Index Shows Top April on Record. I'd love to believe it's true -- that we're really seeing remodeling activity hit it's highest mark since 2004. Everybody else seems to be projecting a slowdown, although the anecdotal evidence I'm hearing supports the idea of a surge this spring.


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