As we enter the 21st century, there has never been a better time to be
a quality conscious home builder. Nor has there been a better time to be
associated with the building industry. It is important to reflect back
over the past 50-100 years and try to understand some of the changes that
have affected our business and to review some of the basic procedures
that, after years of use, are still important today.
For the past 30 years, due to major advances in geological procedures
and soils testing methods, the quality of rough-site grading has improved
greatly. When properly applied, these new methods produce a better
finished product, and that equates to better building pads and solid
building foundations. New engineering requirements because of hurricanes
and earthquakes have increased dramatically the use of structural hardware
and plywood shear panels. Reinforcing steel, plastics, modem adhesives,
improved fasteners and fastening systems, to identify a few, have all
contributed to improved quality.
Paul Bunyan would probably have a fit if he came back today and saw
that air compressors, nail guns, drill motors, and portable screw guns are
replacing framing hammers.
In the past decade, computer technology has made a substantial impact
on the entire building industry. With all of the changes that continue to
transpire, it takes a major effort to keep current. The nomenclature
within the business and the nation also has changed. Can you remember
when: pasta was spaghetti, cross-trainers were tennis shoes, value
engineering was saving money, vertical construction was onsite
development, horizontal construction was offsite improvements, and a
CEO/CFO was the boss?
If a builder got lost in a 1960 time warp and suddenly appeared behind
a desk at a construction site, I don't think he or she would comprehend
most of today's jargon. However, some things, especially the basics of
building, will never change.
The same basic construction procedures that were important 500 years
ago are still important today. The three basic words that we consider the
cornerstone of the entire building industry are: plumb, level, and
square. The "big three" are important words that successful builders
never forget. The methodical repetition in this checklist stresses the
three basics and encourages active participation by anyone who wants to be
Builders today must pry themselves away from their office duties, take
time to use these checklists, and scrutinize the three basics: plumb,
level, and square. Always remember: If something looks wrong, it probably
is wrong. If you notice a problem, chances are good that others will
notice the problem. Problems never get smaller or go away. If not
corrected, they get worse. In the building industry, if it is not plumb,
level, and square, it is wrong.
The only drawback to the plumb, level, and square system is getting out
every day to inspect the site. You must train your eyes to spot problems,
and then follow through. This takes time, determination, and effort.
Even with all of today's new technology, the basics remain the same and
will never change or be replaced. No three words used in the building
business could ever improve the words: plumb, level, and square. The
building industry will always need somebody to check and verify that every
structure is plumb, level, and square, and that person is you.
Americans have become extremely quality conscious over the past 25
years. They study various consumer publications prior to making major
purchases. New safety features and additional quality controls go into the
manufacture of toasters, television sets, clocks, even pairs of jeans.
Yet, it is amazing how little time and attention is given to total quality
management (TQM) programs in residential construction, especially during
the critical concrete and framing phases. With recent shifts in the legal
system from the theory of "buyer beware" to "builder beware," those
builders who fail to institute a comprehensive TQM program could face
costly litigation in the future.
This checklist, and the interrelated construction schedules, were
developed to familiarize new project superintendents with -and remind
experienced supervisors of- the day-to-day, step-by-step construction
procedures necessary to establish standards of quality, confirm start
dates, monitor progress, predict completion dates, meet a production
schedule, and, most importantly, produce a quality finished product.
Use of the Production Checklist for Builders and Superintendents
cannot guarantee the success of any project. If committed to and used as a
working tool, however, it can increase the quality control of any project,
which in turn can contribute to the overall success of your project and,
ultimately, your company.
This list has taken over 25 years to assemble. It is an
accumulation of positive information produced from trial and error. It is
a conglomeration of our best piece-meal punch lists, and a composite of
the "unwritten" jobsite knowledge that can be obtained only through
While this book does not pretend to cover every possible
situation (to do so would require an encyclopedia), it provides those who
want to learn with a source of information. Its purpose is to help improve
quality in the building industry and maybe make your job, as a builder or
superintendent, just a little easier.
These checklists and schedules were not designed for the
"run-the-project-from-the-trailer" type of superintendent. They are
intended for the "walking-and-working" project superintendent- the type of
supervisor who wants to be involved and keep control of the daily affairs
of the construction project. Quality control must start the very first
day of production and should be the last task performed upon
completion of a project.
It is unfortunate that many project supervisors choose to
abandon quality control responsibilities during the rough and mechanical
phases of construction and rely solely on the building inspector to police
the structural integrity, completeness, and overall quality of the
project. When quality control programs start during or after the finish
phase of construction, most major unsolved problems likewise are saved for
the final hour. This procrastination and negligent style of supervision
probably will end in failure. This type of project most likely will
experience cost overruns, delivery delays, and possible litigation.
This checklist represents an effort to stress the importance of quality
throughout every phase of construction-concrete, framing, mechanical
finish, and final. If proper quality control standards are initiated at
the very onset of the project, fast and accurate work can be performed
while still meeting a realistic production schedule. However, pride
of workmanship and quality should never be compromised in order to meet
any schedule. Construction delays caused by the lack of proper
planning can be eliminated by following well-defined procedures and
The checklists and schedules in this book are designed for
slab-on-grade, poured-in-place, in-line, and production housing tracts.
Because every area of the country builds houses and determines the
appropriate schedules to meet the regional and product requirements, the
steps and allotments of time can vary. This step-by-step process, with
superintendent involvement, can be applied, with minor regional
adjustments, to any project in any part of the country.
We wish you all the best of luck with your present and future projects!
Listed below are the 11 most important items that you must review
thoroughly and have physically onsite prior to the start of any project or
new phase of construction.
1. ____ Soils report
2. ____ Approved building plans
3. ____ Approved precise grade-plot plans
4. ____ Building permits
5. ____ Rough grade certification
6. ____ Subcontractor agreements and contract scopes of work
7. ____ Jobsite safety plan
8. ____ As-built improvement plans
9. ____ Utilities clearly marked (water, sewer, gas, electric, cable,
10. ____ Local inspection requirements and procedures
11. ____ Code books: Uniform Building Code, (UBC), Uniform Plumbing
Code (UPC), National Electric Code (NEC), the "Green Book," (i.e.,
Standard Specification for Public Works Construction), and local code
During prejob meetings with subcontractors held prior to the start of
work, the following items must be discussed:
1. ____ Project schedule and working hours
2. ____ Identify lead subcontractor representative
3. ____ Establish quality standards
4. ____ Confirm inspection procedures
5. ____ Review contract requirements
6. ____ Review safety policies
7. ____ Clarify cleanup responsibilities
Forty-eight (48) hours prior to any excavation, call the local
"call-before-you-dig" hotline. The proposed area to be excavated must be
marked in white paint. The color codes for understanding utilities are:
Red -- electric
Orange -- cable-television-telephone
Blue -- water
Green -- sewer
Yellow -- gas-oil
Pink -- survey markings
White -- proposed excavation
Purple -- reclaimed water