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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.
While we’ve spent the better part of the past four years analyzing just how dramatically the housing market has changed during the great bubble burst — shrinking home sizes, historically low housing starts, the glut of foreclosures, more-stringent mortgage requirements, and even the threat of the mortgage-interest deduction going by the wayside — it’s interesting to note how much the housing market remains the same.
The purchasing decisions we make every day aren’t about logic. We’re constantly making emotional decisions to buy or not buy something, whether it be a candy bar, an iPad or a new car. Oh sure, we can come up with plenty of perfectly good reasons why we do these things (“It’s OK, chocolate has antioxidants” or  “I’ll be so much more productive if I have a tablet” or “It gets much better gas mileage”), but the reality is it’s all rationalization.
First off, most companies mix up 360 reviews and employee reviews. 360 reviews involve feedback from peers, superiors, and those the employee manages or that work with him or her at a lower level. This provides a well-rounded (360-degree) perspective. They need to by anonymous (as much as possible) and must provide honest feedback. This includes feedback on negatives, but in such cases they should be provided in a constructive manner and they need to provide some examples or depth to the feedback.
Missed our recent webinar with Rich Harshaw on “Micro-Marketing Strategies for Remodelers: How Narrowing Your Prospect List Can Increase Your Results”? You can check out the archive here.
Theory of Constraints is based on the premise that the rate of achievement is limited by at least one constraining process. Only by increasing flow through the constraint can overall throughput be increased. Assuming the goal of the organization has been established then the steps are:
New-home sales guru and Professional Builder columnist Bob Schultz is conducting a free sales and marketing webinar tomorrow at 2 pm EDT, titled “Bootstrap Sales and Marketing for Builders.” Schultz says that even in this slow market thousands of buyers are out there looking for new homes every day. It's important to build a sales presentation that tells your story and puts your homes in the best possible light.
The use of Evenflow for construction scheduling can revolutionize a builders business.  Perhaps one of the biggest problems is that builders assume it can only be used if your building 300 homes per year minimum. That’s wrong. Its about using a disciplined scheduling system. The two links below discuss evenflow in detail for large, medium and small builders.
I recently talked to remodeler David Merrick, president of Merrick Design & Build, outside of Washington, D.C. He says the market is strong, and is keeping them much busier than many of his cohorts in other parts of the country. Even there, though, project sizes are smaller and competition is heating up. Take a look at what David had to say by clicking here.
Several of us at Professional Builder are traveling the country this spring, speaking at The Pro Expos presented by Pella. The events are being held in 30 cities. For us, it is an invaluable opportunity to connect with builders, architects, and developers and to hear their strategies and tactics for managing through the downturn.
There two key things needed to really help start on the quality journey or to become refreshed on your journey. A detailed example of how a home builder has successfully implemented quality management and sustained it for years. Specific metrics showing the impact of quality for home builders These provide the means of proving the impact of quality and giving guidance and support in driving forward. Here is a  link to a detailed case study of the award winning Veridian Homes
The April 2011 issue of Professional Builder features our latest report on the adoption of building information modeling (BIM) and 3D design tools in the home-building market. Beazer Homes, Oakwood Homes, and Winchester Homes are among the builders that have made the switch to BIM technology and never looked back. These firms are benefiting from BIM in a number of ways. Here are five key benefits:
Five major national energy home building programs, Energy Star, LEED for Homes, Environments for Living, Building Americas Builders Challenge and the National Green Building Standard all have as a core element of their programs the use of the Blower Door Test (ASTM Standard E1827). Due to this the simple blower door test has had a national impact in the building of millions of energy efficient homes.  For example by just focusing on the Energy Star program, its impact has meant that over one million new ENERGY STAR qualified homes have been built to date.
The title of a best selling business book 'Death by Meetings' says it all. No one likes meetings, however, they are a crucial part of a well functioning communication process in an organization. The point of the book was actually that it need not be death by meetings, if only they were conducted efficiently. Meetings are not held just for the sake of holding a meeting they need to have a purpose, to have an agenda to be addressed, for those in attendance coming prepared and for the meeting to conclude with issues resolved, new goals and work assigned and deadlines agreed.
  Whatever the issue.  Whatever the idea. The first response was, no. Not an adamant no, not an angry no, not even a thoughtful considered no. But a calm, clear, instant ‘no’.

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