Posted by: JC Gatlin | May 26, 2010

The 3rd Party Quality Inspection: Standard vs. Tolerance Level

Just the other day I was coming out of the toll booth lane and didn’t have my rental car in the right gear. My passenger began yelling, “Down shift! Down shift!” as the engine sputtered. So I found the gear, down shifted and the little rental car lunged forward with a haphazard jerk.

As we made our way over the causeway, my passenger said, “You’re gonna blow out the engine.”

I laughed dismissively, stating, “The RPM gauge never even got close to the red.”

“Oh, you were in the red,” he said.

“Then I wasn’t in the red for very long… so no damage done.”

I tell you this story because that RPM gauge on the dashboard is a very clear indication of standard versus tolerance. The standard for this gauge is to be resting comfortably near the 2 or 3. When it jumps to 6 or higher, it’s in the red zone, or its tolerance level.

 Our Quality Inspection (QI) is no different. I often hear Construction Professionals say that the standard for the 3rd Party QI list is 8 items.  But it’s not — the standard is 0 items.

Our home building cycle time ends at the 3rd Party Quality Inspection. The Construction Professional is delivering a home that is 100% finished and ready to close. The 3rd Party Inspector is a second pair of eyes to walk the home and confirm that. Because the home is 100% complete, the inspector should not find any items that need to be finished or repaired.

Now in the real world – the 3rd party inspector may find a paint touch-up here or a drywall scuff there. Measuring that, an RPM gauge would point at 2 — well within acceptable tolerance.

The threshold for acceptable tolerance — that red zone on the RPM gauge — begins with 8 items. Revving that engine up to 8 or higher is never good. Consistently averaging in the 8 or higher will “blow out the engine.” In home building terms, that means increased rework, increased construction costs, delayed building schedule, higher warranty risk, closing with an Exception Letter and decreased customer satisfaction.

Don’t confuse acceptable tolerance with the standard; they are very different measurements. The goal for every Construction Professional is to achieve 0 items on the Quality Inspection. That means delivering the home 100% finished at the Quality Inspection. Even having one item on the list is rework waste, and the home wasn’t delivered 100% complete, as promised by the Construction Professional.    

As we improve, the gap between the standard and the tolerance threshold will naturally shrink.  Prepare for that now: Stop aiming for the 8 and start hitting the 0.

© May 2010 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. […] you use a 3rd party inspector for quality control, get him involved in the Building Partner Council Meeting. His photographs can […]

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