March 26, 2011

The NHQA criteria may look simple at first glance, just 8 headings, but this is deceptive, it has depth and complexity. Think of the range of issues involved in running a successful homebuilding business, can all of those issues be related to an aspect of the NHQA Criteria? Yes, for example, future planning, business plans and other issues fit under Section 2 Strategic Planning, issues relating to the design function fits in under Section 3 Performance (Process) Management where you have to show how your organization includes all critical elements in the entire homebuilding process from land, design, sales, marketing, construction, customer relations etc and how they fit together and communicate. 


With regard to the standards of home construction and their performance, these issues are covered in Section 6, Construction Quality. This incorporates standards, improvement of the design and construction processes and consideration of recognition programs.  Within this section meeting codes is a minimum requirement and exceeding them by show for example that the standards of the home and their performance though such independent programs such as Energy Star, Green Built and Builders Challenge, EVHA are evidence of a high performing and improving product. This of course would also be reflected in the number of defects, warranty costs, customer satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) scores all of which are considered in other areas of the criteria.

Of course the consistency with which a builder can achieve these standards i.e. by building 10, 50, 100, 500 or 1000+ of such homes per year if what reflects the strong quality management systems they have in place.


The NHQA was never intended to replace or cover all that other best practice programs provide such as Building Americas: Builders Challenge nor does it seek to replace EVHA or the others mentioned above, they are specialized and if NHQA did what they do why then have the EVHA etc ! The aim of NHQA is to focus on the business management and process improvement of home building, trade and remodeling organizations while providing a structure around which other best practice programs can be implemented AND connected to support each other! This includeS the NAHBRC Builder and Trade Certification Quality Management Systems, EVHA, NAHBs SAFE Award, LEED for Homes, Building Americas Builder Challenge, NAHBRCs Builder and Trade QMS Certification and many others.

Applicants for NHQA need to show how they have detailed replicable processes for every aspect of their business INCLUDING land development, marketing, customer focus, integrated design, construction etc.   In the same way some builders use Building Americas, Builder Challenge, Energy Star, EVHA and LEED for Homes to be certified to and to use to drive improvement in the performance of their home, other builders may use other completely different programs to certify and improve their home performance. NHQA allows all of these to be used to drive improvement, the only other way would be to PRESCRIBE which programs to use! In that case many fewer organizations would apply and be involved in the NHQA. The NHQA is unique in that it encourages builders to seek best practices for each of its sections and aids in strategically coordinating and integrating these best practices.


NEXT TIME Leadership & Reflection Questions


  1. Strategic Planning
  2. Tunnel Vision
  3. Construction Quality
  4. Trade Relationships
  5. Focus Groups
  6. Mission Statements
  7. Grass Roots Improvement Ideas

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.