Summary: As a home builder, I want to understand how home warranty metrics can help me create a feedback loop to identify design flaws promptly.
Having a good warranty system has a lot of benefits to a savvy home builder. It can facilitate the best marketing system in the in world – word of mouth. It can identify flaws in your process of building homes. It can cut down on the number of customer calls to your President. Plus it can just make running a company much more FUN!!
But if you really get your warranty system going, it can identify design flaws and save your company a ton money in rework.
Let me tell you a little story.
One time I was working with a superintendent on a project in the Northeast by the name of Jack. He wasn't too tall - maybe five feet eight on a good day. His weight was a little on the heavier side, but not too heavy, just solid like a brick you-know-what. He had a good sense of humor and jolly laugh. With a white beard he could have stood in for Santa at Christmas. With his great personality, Jack knew how to move around the site and get things done. He also knew how to relate to the trades. Jack would try and do everything right the first time because he was a good superintendent.
They can get a lot of rain up in that part of the USA and sometimes it just comes down in buckets. We were working on some houses using a new plan with some interesting roof lines but the flashing was hard to get right. I was leaning over the plan table and waiting for him to return. Then the construction coordinator got a call about one of Jack’s houses.
“ Bad news ” She told him. “One of our home buyers, Helen Fitzpatrick, just called. They have a leak in their Bay Window. More rain is in forecast so we better get over there pronto.”
“That’s odd Noelle,” said Jack. “Didn’t the Chen family have the same problem, we talked about on your last visit?.”
“MMMmm, you are right, this is the second issue in the same place ,” I said. “Let me take a closer look at the warranty report.”
Fortunately the builder had made an investment in his warranty system so we had pretty good metrics. Looking over the report, which was broken down by super I noticed something interesting. Not every house Jack built leaked, but all the houses the company built with this new design did. I decided to dig a little deeper.
“Holy S***!” I exclaimed in amazement. “Every one of the houses with this plan has the same problem. Take a look at this.”
I handed Jack the report.
“Looks like a design flaw,” he said finally. “How many houses do we have like this in the pipeline?”
“Thirteen,” I replied.. “Three constructed, four underway, six scheduled to break ground next week.”
“Better call the Architect,” Jack said. “They have some ‘splaining to do.”
Thanks to Jack and the warranty system we were able to correct the design defect in all the thirteen homes before there was a leak OUTBREAK. There are a couple of things you need in place to get a warranty system really humming. First of all you need specialized defect tracking software (there are a couple of packages I can recommend if you want to give me a call). Second you need a warranty manager who reports directly to the President or CEO. While it tempting to have the Warranty Manager report to the VP of Operations that can create a conflict of interest and crimp the information flow. Finally you need a disciplined, consistent process in the field built into the super’s job description (the stick) with a bonus structure in place (the carrot). Finding a super as good as Jack is on you.
The moral of all this is good warranty metrics can save a builder a ton of time and money. You can stop a problem very quickly. We are all moving quickly and great reporting MATTERS. That is my story, and I am sticking to it.
Home builders and developers are the backbone of this country. They work hard, take risks, and create more wealth for society than any other sector of the economy. If you are a home builder and concerned about your results - you can do better! If you want to find out more, call me at 303.525.4944 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and LinkedIn is a great place to find out more about my credentials, background, and references.