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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.
The impact of quality management on home builders is dramatic. For example of builders that used the National Housing Quality Award criteria to help drive their business performance and went on to win NHQA recognition, 94% are still in business despite the recession. The use of Quality Management Systems (QMS) has also shown significant impact. A study conducted by Duncan Prahl of IBACOS, Serge Ogranovitch of The Potomack Group and Denis Leonard of Business Excellence Consulting, focused on the impact of QMS and its impact.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- This spring offered the opportunity for Professional Builder editors to make educational presentations in 30 markets around the country. We supplied the builder-segment education for the series of Pro Expos sponsored by a coalition of building industry partners.
Got to spend some time over at the Bosch headquarters yesterday. To show off the toughness of their new line of drills, they dropped two of them 532 feet from a hovering helicopter. It may not have been a practical application, but I was pretty impressed. You can see video I shot of the demo below.
A tool referred to as the “Quality Life Cycle” provides a strategic mechanism to chart and sustain quality while proactively countering shortcomings of its implementation, such as stagnation and limited application, which can ultimately result in failure. The quality life cycle was developed as part of a UK and US research study, allows for the characterization and visualization of the various complex stages and dynamics of quality. It allows charting of not only the current status of quality in an organization but also its historical development or life cycle.
All the remodelers out there who thought that the EPA RRP lead paint rules weren’t going to be enforced may want to think again. The EPA announced in May it would be pursuing action against a Rockland, Maine, remodeler for alleged violation of the RRP rules. The EPA has said that Colin Wentworth is facing fines of at least $150,000 for multiple violations.
There are many ways to determine how successful a process or project is. These methods normally involve detailed metrics and may include cycle-time reduction, number of process steps and customer satisfaction. The more improvement projects there are, however, the more difficult it is to monitor their progress, especially in relation to one another and at a high level. 
Lead paint continues to be getting a lot of buzz, what with the NAHB's lawsuit against EPA, the first fine coming down last week and more. Here's my video update on the latest developments. We'll also have more on lead paint in the June issue of Professional Remodeler, mailing soon.
At a time when the housing industry is facing a severe glut of inventory, depressed real-estate values, tighter lending standards, and a lethargic path toward recovery, it seems ludicrous to even mention the terms “lot” and “shortage” in sequence.
As the broad range of topics discussed in this blog clearly shows, Quality Management involves a wide range of issues. Perhaps the National Housing Quality Award criteria best reflects this. It covers Leadership, Strategic Planning, Performance Management, Customer Satisfaction, Human Resources, Construction Quality, Trade Relationships and Business Results. So where to start your Quality journey?  This fishbone diagram was developed with IBACOS for the DOE Expert Meeting on Quality Management Tools and Integration for High Performance Homes in October 2010.
POSTED 5/19/2011 So for all those remodelers who thought there was no reason to follow the EPA's lead RRP rules? Yeah, you might want to think about that again. The EPA has cited a Maine remodeler for not properly following the rules after two of his employees were recorded removing paint from a home with power tools and without containing the waste properly. It's the first EPA action under the rules that went into effect last year.
We all have a long list of improvement projects we would like to work on. The problem is picking which to focus on now and which to leave until later, it is all about the resources available. This is a simple tool to help prioritize. Consider the ease or difficulty of implementing your projects, for example the number of people involved how long it will take. Then the impact or benefit from each using this matrix, this might be the potential increase in customer satisfaction, reduction in defects or cycle time. Note on the table where each of your project lies.

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