Standards are everywhere, in everything. Without them, things like production and maintenance could be a nightmare. That is why we have standard ways of doing x,y, and z.
As a builder, you should have standards as well. The construction industry is full of standards and often, there are several different standards for the same thing. When faced with this, you have to pick one standard that works best for your company and roll with it.
Standards let everyone know that this is how our projects go together. These are the common practices we use to get our projects accomplished. These practices will remain the same, no matter the subcontractor.
When it comes to your bottom line, you want installation of all the parts to be done the same way, or you run the risk of creating waste issues that you do not need to have. These issues often run budgets over.
Take framing as an example. Maybe you have three crews that frame your houses. Each crew frames differently. You don’t care as long as it is done to the construction document specifications.
The problem is, that you are always over budget with one of your crews. Same houses, same lumber packages, but you notice that one crew always needs more wood.
The best way to deal with this situation is to enact standards. Specifying how your corners are to go together, how bracing is done, and how jack studs and headers go together. This can be accomplished quite easily by finding out how the other two framers run their job and teaching the third crew how to do it.
Often, it comes down to creating a standard way of putting the pieces together. This standard can save you hundreds of dollars per project. It can help eliminate unneeded waste and can move a job along faster.
To develop a standard construction installation system for your company, identify the areas that are repetitive. Framing, concrete work, siding, roofing, etc. Make a list of the most important items within each area, items that you know should be made the same way across the board, no matter who is doing them. (In framing, you may decide that all corners are to be framed as California corners.) These items will get standard practices that each crew working in that area will adhere to. This will enable you to gain some control over things like field errors, callbacks, and excessive waste.
If you use subcontractors exclusively, you know this isn’t going to be easy, but, in the long run, it will save you time and money. Get your subs involved in the process. Take the subs in each category that have had the best results and consult them in the process. Find out how they do specific things and make that the standard.
Finally, make sure your crew chiefs or project managers are up to date on all standards and are enforcing them. Train them to identify areas of concern and train them on the best ways to handle this new change. Make sure that these changes are detailed in something like a field notebook, or available to your supervisory team members via a network or cloud storage. Something they can easily go to so they can pull down the correct specification and show it to the subcontractor or crew member.
If you have a design team, it may be a good idea to create a set of binder drawings that show the standards and just make sure that those details are on the plans you send out to each sub.
Your end result is to have control of the job, no matter who is doing the installation. You are paying them to perform a service and you should be able to expect that it is done to your standards.
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