One mistake about quality sometimes made by the tract housing and condominium homebuilder is the idea that subcontractors can provide a level of final quality that can meet the expectations of new homebuyers.

Some homebuilders think that once the subcontractors complete their work, the units can be locked up in perfect condition until the homebuyer walkthrough.  Some homebuilders believe that the jobsite superintendent should be able to achieve quality at the end of the construction by pointing out to each subcontractor doing finish work…every small detail that needs final touchup and repair…through the use of a punchlist.

This is an example where main-office mentality does not square with practical reality out in the field.  In low and medium priced production housing, subcontractors are low-bidders who do not have a stake or the incentive to spend the time and effort to produce Stradivarius or Steinway level of quality…suitable for zero-item homebuyer walkthroughs.

To stay competitive, low-bidding subcontractors must aim for a level of performance that is at or slightly above the minimum level required.  Everyone in the field understands that workers and supervising foremen who spend too much time trying to achieve the perfection that is expected in higher priced new homes…will soon be out of a job.  In the non-referral, low-bidder environment of mass-production tract housing and condominiums…subcontractors simply cannot afford to be perfectionists.

Savvy homebuilders employ a crew of two or more workers…depending upon the size of the project, the rate of sales, and the rate of move-ins…who fine-tune each unit just before the homebuyer walkthrough.  These workmen complete minor paint touchup missed by the painter, replace flexible door stops bent during the carpet installation, adjust interior door striker plates to remove excess play, caulk floor baseboard and countertop tile grout cracks, and clean off smudges and dirt missed by the final cleanup crew.

The final prep crew installs any missing parts, completes baseboard or baseshoe pickup, and removes paint overspray on flooring cabinets, and bathtub/showers…to name only a few activities.  The builder’s prep crew adds the touch of personal care and attention that cannot be provided by the construction subcontractors.