Build Quality Jobs
Many contractors believe that building quality helps them sell more jobs and make more money.
How do you define quality? Who sets the standard?
To my knowledge, the only quality standard for construction is the NAHB Residential Construction Performance Guidelines manual. It is the only manual available that sets quality standards in our industry. But even those standards leave lots of room for improvement.
It is very hard to define quality in our business unless you want to confine the term to one specific area of the job. And even then, it is relative to your experience. So, if we cannot define it then how can our clients possibly be expected to recognize the difference? Their idea of quality and yours may be entirely different.
When a contractor advertises “top quality,” the clients’ expectations will not be the same as the contractor’s. The word perfection comes to mind, and that is what the clients will expect. So when the contractor says the job is done, the clients will trot out a laundry list of items they think need to be fixed or torn or and replaced. This is one of the major reasons homeowners refuse to make final payments to contractors. No one can agree on what constitutes quality standards.
Keep This in Mind
If your clients knew the difference between a top-quality job and just a quality job, you probably wouldn’t be necessary. They could and probably would be their own contractor and oversee the job themselves.
Almost any contractor can build a given job as well as you can. That is the reality of this business. None of us like to admit that others are equally as capable as we are. But the truth of the matter is, they are. So the idea of providing the best quality is kind of a moot point.
To prevent problems with clients, your contract needs to specify in writing what work is to be done on that job. It should be very clear to your clients what to expect when the work will be done, and the quality of the materials that will be used. And define that quality in your contract.
If you or your crew spends more time than the job estimate, the money to pay that overage comes out of your profit. If the profit isn’t enough to pay for the overage, an overhead expense will go unpaid while you pay the employees working on your jobs. You know where it goes from there.
How Do You Prevent This From Happening?
First, the owner of the company needs to define the acceptable building standards for the company and the type of jobs being built. For example, a remodeling company standard might be that all windows and doors should be set with screws only, no nails allowed. Those who have worked in remodeling while already know the value of that standard.
You need to set a clear time schedule for each individual job and the work to be done. When you estimate a job, you should be able to generate the time allowed for each phase of the job. When the time limit is approaching, they know they need to finish. No more fussing, adjusting, or tinkering. The individual or crew stops and moves on to the next phase of the job.
Keep in mind that your guys (regardless of the training you give them or the harassment that you bestow on them) can only work so fast. Be realistic in your estimate, and also be realistic in what you expect of your employees. Given fair compensation and a pat on the back for a job well done, most employees will give you their best effort on the job.
Finally, your timeframe for the work to be done should also take into account the local area building standards or the local building codes. When your work reaches the standard level for your area, it is time to quit fussing and move on.
Build a good job, build what you have told people you are going to build, and build what is defined in the contract. Then stop, because if you don’t you will lose money.