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December 20, 1999

PATH ISO 9000 Framing Project: A Quality Home Construction Tool

When potential homebuyers ask for a "quality" home, they increasingly mean a "zero defect" home. That is a tall order. But attractive, affordable homes that are durable, free of product failures, and strong enough to withstand natural disasters pay big dividends.

PATH's ISO 9000 Framing Project aims at providing the housing industry with an important new quality control tool for builders and framers that can help satisfy homebuyer quality demands as well as increase builder profits. ISO 9000 is a standard for quality assurance systems that is accepted around the world. Currently more than 100 countries have adopted ISO 9000 as a national standard. When people purchase a product or service from an ISO 9000 company, they have important assurances that the quality will be as expected.

Until now, ISO 9000 has been applied mostly to nonhousing manufacturing. PATH is supporting an initiative by the NAHB Research Center and the Wood Truss Council of America (WTCA) to achieve ISO levels of quality assurance in the residential framing process. Framers and builders from the following companies are also contributing to the project by implementing ISO 9000 in their framing operations: Ace Carpentry; All-Tech Construction Contractors; Del Webb; K. Hovnanian Companies; Schuck and Sons Construction Company, Inc.; and Winchester Homes.

During the course of the project, ISO quality assurance tools are being developed and tested in preparation for their widespread use. Currently, framing accounts for 15 to 20 percent of the total cost of the average house. It is one of the most critical factors in construction-affecting cost, cycle time, quality, and durability.

Builders using the ISO 9000 standard for framing will be sure that their homes are correctly framed. Roof sheathing; connectors and fastening systems; and floor, wall, and roof components will be properly installed. Design plans are accurately executed. The cost of correcting structural defects after the house is built should be significantly reduced. An improved, more accurate construction process will also reduce the need for custom fitting of building components (such as countertops, carpets, and cabinets), which in turn will reduce wasted time.

Through PATH funding, the NAHB Research Center is developing the first tool for the ISO 9000 project-the ISO 9000 Quality Manual for Residential Framing-which can be used by any framing company or builder. The manual contains a complete set of quality assurance procedures and forms, including procedures for qualifying carpenters and their work processes; ways to control the uses of materials, tools, and equipment; job-site inspection requirements; and quality improvement methods.

WTCA is creating a framing-carpenter training manual for builders. Builders and framers will be able to use the training or on-the-jobsite toolbox talks. Completion of the training program is designed to qualify carpentry crew leaders for the ISO 9000 quality framing system.

"At K. Hovnanian, we wanted to emulate the rigorous structure of ISO 9000 standards in order to produce a 'trade-friendly' version of a Quality Plan. The Quality Plan will help us and our Trade Partners to continuously identify and improve construction process disconnects. The long lasting result will be to build our homes better, faster, at less cost while mutually improving our profits and adding value to our customers."
Marc Martinez
Vice President of Quality and Partnering

Next spring, PATH and the NAHB Research Center will release a pilot project case study report and recommendations for builders and framing contractors that will outline alternative strategies for deploying ISO 9000 technology. The report will detail the business quality and cost results of adopting an ISO 9000 quality management approach as well as describe the availability of tools developed under the program. Project organizers will also begin evaluating the potential of certifying framers who meet ISO 9000 requirements.

For more about PATH's ISO Quality Framing Project, stop by the PATH exhibition booth or attend Ed Caldeira's "Advances in Jobsite Quality" at the International Builders Show Workshop, Friday, January 14, 1-2:30 p.m., Ballroom A-Four, Level 3. Caldeira, a specialist from the NAHB Research Center and leader of the ISO 9000 Framing Project, will moderate a discussion with builders on the ramifications of ISO 9000 technology for the housing industry.

Content updated on 7/10/2003

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