When Good is Not Good Enough

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Builders expect certain levels of defects from good trade contractors.

December 01, 2001
Edward Caldeira, Director of Quality Services, NAHB Research Center


Builders expect certain levels of defects from good trade contractors. A good framer might have only three pickup items found at the frame inspection. A good painter might be called back only once before closing for a touch-up. A good plumber might have warranty service for only one out of three homes. Such performances are readily accepted by most contractors and builders alike.

But good trade contractors are not good enough when you consider the large number of contractors required to build a home. Builders typically partner with 30 or more trades. Even when a contractor has a small number of quality issues, it turns into a big quality problem when multiplied by the total number of contractors.

A group of 30 "good" contractors can be expected to build a home with 90 items for correction during construction, 30 items to be fixed before closing and about 10 warranty items. Altogether, even good trade contractors produce unacceptable levels of quality problems. Any accepted level of defects is too much when you consider the large number of contractors and the high expectations of home buyers.

While some level of quality defects might always be expected, it is no excuse to be satisfied with the status quo. The goal always must be to improve, to get it right the first time. Eventually every contractor should deliver the level of quality that home buyers expect instead of what builders are willing to accept.

Accept no less from your trade contractors than your homeowners expect from you.

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