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March 26, 2011


Self-assessment is in itself an important process which should be conducted at least annually to monitor the performance of your business. This can be done using the National Housing Quality Award Criteria for Performance Excellence. NHQA Criteria has been an important tool for hundreds of home builders and trade contractors to assess and improve performance on critical factors to business success.

Since the start of the NHQA in 1993 through 2009, 69 builders have received recognition, of which 8 builders have earned awards multiple times. These organizations range from small family owned to large national builders, building custom, production, single and multi-family homes of a wide price range. In addition 6 remodelers and 5 trade partners have been awarded recognition.

NHQA winning builders have had impacts such as:

  • Grayson Homes 98% homes zero at closing with net profits increased by 9%
  • Pringle Homes reduced cycle time by 15%
  • Estes Homes 95% of trades list them as the builder to work for
  • TS Lewis 33% of homebuyer referral rate

The criteria considers

  • Importance of leadership
  • Need to consider all elements of an organization
  • Strategic importance of scanning and analyzing the business environment
  • Value of creating focus on  customers and employees 
  • Emphasis of identifying and monitoring key performance indicators and
  • Methods of approach and deployment for improvement action plans


It also drives the need to

  • Align resources
  • Improve communication
  • Increase productivity
  • Boost effectiveness
  • Achieve strategic goals



The NHQA consists of a set of eight criteria, which themselves help you to view your organization as a high level process.



  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Process Management
  4. Customer Satisfaction
  5. Human Resources
  6. Construction Quality
  7. Trade Partnerships
  8. Business Results


The NHQA has four levels of recognition, Honorable Mention, Bronze, Silver and Gold.

The NHQA can be used to identify strengths and target Opportunities For Improvement (OFI’s) that impact; customers, employees, owners, suppliers and business results. This is not only a first step toward driving improvement throughout your organization but also toward the ability to write and submit an application. Writing an application is in itself a method of self-assessment, detailing how your organization addresses each of the criteria.


The NHQA application is reviewed by a team of judges who are experts in both the homebuilding industry and quality management.  Those that are approved by the judges receive a site visit by a judging team that may last several days. In either case the applicant receives a detailed actionable feedback report to support continued improvement.  

The application involves 18 pages, single sided, 12 point, times new roman font on 8 1/2 x 11 pages. One hard copy and one electronic is required. In addition a brief one-page profile of the company is provided.

Once you have identified your Opportunities for Improvement you can prioritize them and select quality tools to address them. This is one of the powerful things about the NHQA, it can be used as the strategic umbrella under which all of the other quality management tools and techniques can be organized and coordinated.

Process management is a fundamental criterion of the NHQA. It is from process performance management that the systems that run your organization are built from. It is these processes that allow the corporate strategy to be implemented and from which metrics can be attached to establish your business results. It is these processes that you create systems and methods to measure and monitor the performance of your business.


This is a link to a free online Baldrige self-assessment tool.


Get started on improvement and apply for the NHQA.

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Written By

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering, and an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality and 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. 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. 

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