Quality is difficult to define. And without a clear definition, remodelers find it challenging to convey that value to their clients, field crews, and subcontractors. Most attempt to use a combination of showing and telling to communicate their standards.

About 71% of respondents say they have a formal inspection process at one or several phases of construction to check quality.

While you'd be hard pressed to find a remodeler who says that quality standards are unimportant, only 65% of our survey respondents actually use the same standards for every job. Of the rest, 23% change their standards based on client focus, and 12% change standards based on the quality of the existing building.

If yes, which two skills are most lacking?

Finish carpentry 36%
Drywall taping 28%
Concrete finishing 19%
Rough framing 14%
Cabinet installation 12%
Roofing installation 9%
Drywall hanging 8%
Siding installation 6%
Concrete framing 5%
Other 10%

What are your most common quality issues?

Poor drywall finishing 50%
Out-of-square framing 45%
Sloppy finish joints 33%
Poor roofing or siding flashing 29%
Poor door installation 24%
Out-of-level framing 20%
Sloppy electrical finish trims 19%
Sloppy plumbing fixture/fitting installation 13%
Poor tile installation 13%
Poor window installation 11%
Sloppy framing joints 9%
Poor cabinet installation 8%
Uneven siding courses 4%
Uneven roofing courses 3%
Other 18%

Who do you hold accountable for quality problems on a job?

Lead carpenters 40%
Production manager 20%
Company owner 12%
Carpenters 4%
Designers 3%
Other 21%

Beyond telling clients that your company does quality work, do you communicate quality standards to your clients?

If yes, what method do you use most?
Show examples in advance 32%
Verbal explanation/description 31%
Written document or book 12%
Other 10%

Which of these methods do you use to communicate your quality standards to your crews?

On-the-job spot instruction 79%
Pair them with more skilled/experienced workers 63%
In-house scheduled training sessions 15%
Formal training outside the office 13%
All of the above 15%
Other 5%

Which of these methods do you use to communicate your quality standards to your subcontractors?

On-site supervision during job 82%
Final inspection of their work 75%
Preconstruction meetings 63%
Withholding payment until work is satisfactorily completed 57%
Written objectives 39%
Other 2%

If budget constraints demanded a compromise in product quality, in what areas would you use lower-quality materials?

Carpet 56%
Lights 45%
Interior trim stock 29%
Plumbing fixtures & fittings 24%
Locksets 23%
Cabinetry 23%
Tile 21%
Wood flooring 14%
Exterior trim stock 14%
Roofing 13%
Windows 11%
Siding 9%
Doors 6%
Other 12%

How do you define quality?

“The standard I would expect in my own house.”
Gordon Polson, RCT Engineering, Seattle

“Functionality, longevity, aesthetics, and value all are factors. Meeting expectations may sum up the issue. That is, satisfying the owner, the architect, and the contractor — not necessarily in that order.”
Hackett Cummins, Hackett Cummins Construction, New Orleans

“It is the quality of installation that I focus on. A client may choose products that are not of superior quality. This is outside of my control. It is my responsibility to install that product to the best of my ability. If my ability is substandard, then the resulting quality of the job reflects that.”
Joe Boutin, Master Carpentry, Arlington, Vt.

“A material or project that is made or completed so that it does not have a comparison.”
Ken Braswell, Ken's Home Repairs and Improvements, Shreveport, La.

Why do you find it difficult to communicate your quality standards to your field workers?

“It isn't systematized. There is always a balance in remodeling between ‘being right' and ‘looking right.' Matching existing [structures] requires some compromises.”
Jonathon Meyer, Meyer Sons Builders, Edgewater, Md.

“They want to settle for ‘good enough,' and they feel I am just being too picky.”
David Krumrie, Krumrie Construction, Sawyer, Mich.

“If I spent more time on the job, I could show them how to do what I want and then watch them while they did it themselves and coach them to a higher level of quality.”
Ted Welch, Ted Welch Builders, Wilmette, Ill.