Posted by: JC Gatlin | July 14, 2010

Building Partners: Speak up when the job’s not ready!

Home building is an imperfect, complicated science that, most of the time, feels very much out of balance. In one home alone, the interior cleaner spent an extra 30 minutes scraping paint splatter off the windows. The painters had to smooth-out imperfections and “boogers” in the drywall before they could even get started. The drywaller had to cut extra material to compensate for the framing. The framer had to recalculate measurements to compensate for the concrete slab not being level. And the concrete finisher complained about the weather.

Each one of those jobs were performed by a specialized group of professionals solely dedicated to completing their specific scope of work. For the most part, each group concentrated on completing their activity as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, there was no collaboration between the groups, which meant the home building system as a whole made no improvements or innovations.

On the next house, the interior cleaner will complain about the painter, who will complain about the drywaller, who will complain about the framer, who will complain about the concrete finisher. In other words, the home building system as a whole is out of balance.

Balance comes from speaking up.

1. Mark the “Job Readiness Score” in the First Time Quality (FTQ) System.

The interior cleaner should rate job readiness a “3” and write in the notes, “If the painter will take 10 seconds to wipe the wet paint off the window, it will save me 30 minutes of having to scrape it off and risk permanently damaging the glass.” If job readiness is really an issue or is a recurring problem, don’t be afraid to rate the job readiness of that job a “2” or even a “1.” On the flip side, praise a job well done.

2. Ask the jobsite Construction Professional to create a “Hot Spot.”

Hot Spots are reminders of often-missed steps in job completion that appear on a Building Partner’s FTQ sheet, and is a critical tool to follow standardized work and achieve lean. The jobsite Construction Professional can also post a Hot Spot sheet in the area of work so, for example, the drywaller will remember to smooth-out any wall “boogers” before leaving, saving the painter from having to finish the job.

3. Ask the jobsite Construction Professional to schedule a “face to face” with the other Building Partner.

If the framer, the concrete finisher and the Construction Professional walked the jobsite together during framing, the framer could point out the added time and resources required to compensate for an uneven slab. Most likely, the concrete finisher was thinking the slab was “good enough” because he’d never heard otherwise.

It’ll be easy to say, “It won’t make any difference because so-and-so won’t listen” or “so-and-so won’t care.” But it must start making a difference, especially in this economy. The home building system will only fall further out of balance if it doesn’t.

Speaking up is not getting someone in trouble, or getting someone fired. Every Building Partner (trade, contractor, supplier) is a professional. And we’re all “partners,” thus the term “Building Partner.” Every one who touches the house has the same goal as you: to provide a professional, quality service. To achieve that, we’re going to have to hold each other accountable.

© July 2010 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. Great idea, thanks for this post!

  2. […] be limited to the jobsite Construction Professional. Encourage each trade to take photos and to speak up about job-readiness issues or anything that’s interfering with their job completion. If a prior trade isn’t […]

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