A Measurable Difference
The Quality Assurance Builder Standards provide, for the first time ever, new homebuyers and remodeling homeowners a way to measure the quality of the project against an industry approved set of standards.
These standards have been developed by the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis (BAGI) as a service to new home and remodeling homeowners in the Central Indiana area. BAGI is a membership trade association representing several hundred member firms in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Morgan, and Shelby counties. These standards create a series of performance standards that the builders and the homeowners can use to communicate and understand each others’ expectations regarding the building or remodeling project.
The standards address the most prevalent issues that arise between the builder and the customer before the project, during the project, and, most importantly, after the project is completed. All too often it is the undefined expectations that create the majority of the problems encountered in the building and remodeling processes. The standards will help eliminate problems before the project even begins.
Scope of the Quality Assurance Builder Standards
These standards are intended to be used as a tool by both the builder and the homeowner when questions arise regarding the new home or remodeling project. Prior to calling the builder, the homeowner should use the standards manual to determine if the particular concern is within the standards and then decide if a call to their builder is necessary. The builder should use these standards as the tool to determine what action is necessary to meet homeowner expectations created by the standards.
The standards presented were chosen to address the vast majority of the questions that arise in the course of the typical construction or remodeling process. The actual standards and the language used, along with the individual sections of the manual, were chosen to allow all parties a clear understanding of the potential issues and the standards that should be expected. It should be clearly noted that the standards do not constitute a warranty nor are they intended as a substitute for a warranty. In addition, the standards are separate and distinct from any manufacturer’s warranties that may apply to materials and products used in the project. The homeowner and the builder should agree that the standards are to be included as a part of the construction and/or sales contract for the project.
Scope of Responsibilities
Typically, numerous parties are involved in a residential construction project, whether it is building a new home or remodeling an existing one. Each of these parties has specific responsibilities to fulfill. The contract documents should provide a clear statement of the agreement between the builder and the homeowner. In addition to the specific provisions of any contract, the following general responsibilities should be noted:
Manufacturers warrant many residential construction components that may fall outside the scope of the builder’s responsibilities, such as kitchen appliances, furnaces, and air conditioners. Other less obvious items may include certain types of siding, roofing, or flooring. If there is a warranty problem with one of these components, the buyer should be aware that the builder may not be responsible for the product once it is installed. If a problem occurs, the builder will often deal directly with the manufacturer and/or suppliers to have the problem evaluated and provide the homeowner with a recommended course of action. The builder’s responsibility may end once he or she provides the appropriate information on how to contact the manufacturer, unless otherwise specified in the contract.
The homeowner (also may be referred to as the customer) is the buyer of the product or service, whether new construction or remodeling, named in the contract. The homeowner is responsible for carefully selecting the builder and reviewing the contracts to ensure they accurately represent his or her expectations for the final product. Once the homeowner accepts the project and moves into the home or occupies the newly renovated space, then he or she is responsible for routine maintenance and upkeep. Homes require a certain amount of care that is generally the homeowner’s responsibility.
The homeowner should note that in some of these standards the builder is not obligated to make repairs to items that fall within the homeowner’s maintenance responsibilities.
Remodeling is the process of expanding or enhancing an existing structure. There are sometimes inherent difficulties in melding the new and old in a way that meets the expectations of the homeowner. Under these circumstances, suspension of the application of these standards may be necessary for the remodeling project to be successfully completed. These include, but are not limited to: the meeting of old out-of-plumb structures with new structures; the appearance of; new materials near weathered, existing products; and the practical considerations for new projects to work within the limitations of an existing structure.
Because of the unique challenges of joining new with old, a remodeling contractor may build part of or the entire project outside of the scope of these standards in order to achieve the contract objectives. When it is reasonable, the builder may note and discuss a problem with the homeowner before construction. It is also normal for a builder to discover during the course of construction certain conditions that may affect the building process and the construction performance. These conditions may require the builder to proceed using different solutions from those the standards suggest. In these circumstances the governing factor is meeting the needs of the homeowner as outlined in the contract.