Friday, February 19, 2016

FL Building Inspectors Fail Miserably and Cost Builder Millions

KB Homes in Florida was sited 3 1/2 years ago for shoddy workmanship and made to make millions in repairs which are still ongoing. The also paid millions in fines.

The big news that should anger every modular home factory and builder in the US is that large tract builders are allowed to use their own third party inspectors and the local code enforcement officials accept what these third party people tell them.

Florida's State Attorney General is asking local code departments what went wrong and they are saying nothing was wrong.

Modular homes are put under a microscope and inspected top to bottom, inside out and left to right by independent third party inspectors, state and local code officials while the big tract builders are given a pass. Here's a you think money might be involved? Just asking.

Watch the video news report and you decide.


Tom Hardiman said...

Uggh. Gary, a couple of thoughts on this: 1) that low quality "product" would have never made it out of a modular factory. 2) and my bigger concern - this will cast a lot of doubt on the third party inspection process in general and that could hurt our industry. A lot of blame to go around here.

Anonymous said...

If I were Eli Id really e pissed!

JSHM said...

Long time reader....first time poster....First I will admit to not watching the video but Tom, I think it is bit of overstatement to suggest that low quality products would never come out of a modular factory. I have received homes from multiple higher end factories with glaring quality problems. I also have my doubts as to what factory QC or the third party inspectors look for- I am sure they compare approved plans to what comes off the floor, but when houses are delivered with unglued waste pipes, switches wired backwards, and air sealing that doesn't meet state code it kind of makes you wonder.

Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts on this article and comments;

First, all national builders are more land developers not builders per se. The homes are a means of promoting and seeling their amenity laden communities. They like all companies rely on the management, supervision, and field labor to deliver and maintain standards and compliance with codes and specifications. At some point each of the mega developers have faced issues and problems.

Second, expressing the opinion that modular factory quality is purer than Julius Ceasar's wife glosses over many instances where the delivered product has fallen short of standards and builders have had to correct mistakes on their dime.

Third, although the factory built process promotes as a selling tool multi step quality control and third party inspections these are no different than those in any factory operation otherwise we would not have the numerous recalls across all manufacturing operations.

Lastly, as a comment local inspectors are, presumably, looking at code compliance not quality compliance which are definitly not the same.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous, FEB 21 8:54 am. It is quite a difference in looking for code compliance and quality. However, good quality does require code compliance. I've also seen many modular/manufactured buildings with terrible quality and as a modular building manufacturer we fight this problem/stigma constantly.

The ability/quality of the workforce is getting worse and the codes are getting extremely detailed and convoluted to the point of "you can't know it all". So called "experts" have to interpret and try getting it on the plans. Then the workforce has to have some understanding to be able to interpret and build the plans. I can tell you it is getting harder and harder to build a defect free home, period.

Also remember most state Third Party Agencies are "sampling" at best and most state systems rely on the integrity of the company and it's quality control systems. That integrity is lacking more and more in our eyes.

One thing I can say about the modular system though is that the quality control system is better than the site built system by far (at least we have one)especially if the company has any integrity.

Harris - Finish Werks said...

To Anonymous' point on February 22, 2016 at 4:35 PM, I believe most of the factories have integrity. They really mean well. The real problem, I believe, is a lack foresight on what many call the 1/3/10 rule: it costs $1 to fix something in the plant, $3 to fix it in the yard, and $10 to fix it in the field.

Whatever the costs, this is a reality in all production management. And yet, why do modular manufacturers expose themselves to 8-10-12 times the costs in the field?

They'll tell you that in order to keep payroll expenses down they can't pay enough to keep good people. I say BS. Just about every Business 101 college class has a chapter on why this has been refuted for over a century. The Japanese ate our lunch after WWII because they figured out to build it better, for less.

Manufacturers, you need to incent better performance from QC/QA folks. Here's how you can do it with CASH:

Set a baseline for quarterly quality control costs. Call it $500 per box. Then tell your QC guy/gal that for every dollar saved you will split the savings with them, dollar for dollar. If the per box QC cost over one quarter drops from $500 to $400, he/she earns $50. Can you imagine his/her attitude with this kind of money? They'd be running through the yard with a continuity tester on Sundays!

This is genuine "employee ownership", where he/she has a dog in the fight and they get to train it.

JSHM said...

I think Harris has a good idea to motivate the QC Team, but there are plenty of factories that push modules out the door with known defects. I guess the immediate cash influx outweighs the increased costs of field repairs. Chances are the builder will end up fixing the problem anyway and accept a credit on the next order. If the factory inflates the base price on the next order slightly to pay for outstanding service credits then all is good on the factory side.

Josh said...

there is a page missing to this story! i worked in field production too long to believe that, in a culture of consumer protection, inspectors would miss critical fasteners on a frame inspection.

was there a framing inspection? Were there mechanical inspections? Who was supposed to be running that damn job?

building superintendents are frequently evaluated on time under construction and budget and quality. The quality aspects can often be of the most superficial. The banning of new construction marketing is that all that is really required is that it looks good when it is new. and budget in the new construction environment? Forget about it! If you can't find a $79 single hung window with half screen you may be in trouble.

I know it is cliché. But this is a problem of culture and not of compensation.

Anonymous said...

when you consider the costs involved in screwing up site work, missing an outrageous regulatory fee, screwing up a foundation, framing or installing defective windows, the quality issues inherent in the modular world are light compared to problems normally associated with sticks or in construction's front end. mess that up and nothing makes u look good.

I would not suggest what comes out of the factory is virgin perfection either but, it is by far better then a field production environment. is it better then a high end custom home builder environment however? hard to say.

assuming a righteous relationship (GOOD COMMUNICATIONS) and understanding between builder and manufacturer, problems that start in the boxes are usually very minor.

when in comes to quality it is not the factory so much as it is perceptions and expectations.

I would let factories run their plants with an understanding of how i run my jobs. I don't want to know how they run things in their plant. i want them to feel sick to their stomachs if they send me screwed up boxes.