Quality Assurance in Remodeling

Quality assurance means doing it right the first time in remodeling, in turn giving a homeowner peace of mind that they got the most for their money. This month, David Tyson, CR, CKBR, CLC, GC, of David Tyson and Associates Inc., a full-service general contractor with a focus on remodeling from Charlotte, N.C., gives his take on quality assurance.

If a project is done right the first time, that sets the standard. There are a lot of ways for things to go wrong, but if a remodeler knows they did it right the first time, then any issues that may come up have to be extenuating beyond the work done and aggravating it.

“For me quality assurance in my mind is knowing I can sleep at night because I did what I was supposed to do correctly,” says Tyson. “If I do that all the way through the entire job, there is absolutely no reason to have callbacks or warranty issues. In the 26 years we’ve been in business, we’ve encountered problems less than 1/10 of 1 percent.”

The code book tells remodelers the minimum standards that things need to be in order to meet code and a lot of people will build to the minimum of the code, but with a few extra steps a remodeler can make stuff better and last longer. The way remodelers flash things against buildings, the way a home is ventilated or even the way it is sealed up can all be taken to extra steps. Doing these sorts of things make houses last longer, and with quality assurance it’s not going to fail or cause problems unless there is another issue attached to it.

“Unfortunately there are a lot of bad habits taught out in the field, and being a remodeler we’ve torn enough stuff up to realize things that were done wrong by folks,” explains Tyson. “Now that we have building science we’re realizing things that we thought were correct, but have now learned otherwise. It’s incredible the number of 5-year-old shower pans we have to take out and redo because they weren’t done right the first time because of leaking and causing problems.”

Begin in-house

To implement quality assurance in his own business, Tyson makes sure he trains his team so that everything they’re doing is beyond the homeowners’ expectations. The company spends a lot of time doing its own cabinetry, woodwork, framework and trim, things that it’s come to practice with a high level of professionalism, consistency and quality and expects no less when subcontracting those trades out.

Quality assurance also involves double checking to make sure things were done right and doing research ahead of time so that things don’t have to be done over. That way, when a crew gets to the job they know what they’re doing and don’t have to fiddle around.

Keep clients informed

Quality assurance comes up early on in Tyson’s client interviews during the first sales meeting to show that they’re not just taking their project and turning it into a number, but also that they are concerned with their health and well-being in their house. They want the homeowner to know the company is doing the work with the upmost quality and it is something the homeowner doesn’t have to worry about.

“When they see that kind of service, they see the quality in not just how we serve them, but also in the work, we’re doing,” explains Tyson.

When Tyson started his own business, he remembered seeing too many subs cutting corners and not taking the time to know that they did things right. So when he carried on and got private clientele, he began by taking on the practice of doing for the client what he’d want the client to do for him.

“Don’t expect less than perfect,” says Tyson. “With that I always had the homeowner in mind because I don’t want to leave a bad taste in his or her mouth because I hope to get a couple of good referrals from them. So I treat them like kings and queens by taking the right amount of time to do it right and not cut corners.”

Tyson recommends hand forms or computerized estimating programs to create a checklist of everything that is required of the job, because it can be embarrassing to go to the homeowner for more money when it is discovered that something was missed. A remodeler wouldn’t spend $40,000 of their own money without knowing exactly where all the money’s going and neither should clients.

“Make sure you represent yourself as well as possible and not cutting yourself short, so you can sleep at night knowing you did your clients a good turn,” adds Tyson. “That will go a long way to making you last in the business. You can market all you want, but you need the clients you have now to sing your praise for years.”