By Matthew Power. Kelly Daniels, director of operations at Arvida's highly successful 10,000-acre Weston community in southeastern Florida, knows how to build houses quickly and efficiently. His work on cycle times at Weston has become the stuff of tract builder legend. So what's the secret? How does he deal with variables like house size, weather, or too few subcontractors?

By making them irrelevant.

"The construction template should be the same, no matter what the size of the house," Daniels notes. "That's something a lot of subcontractors don't want to hear, but to get your cycle time up, they have to change their way of thinking.

When we would first meet with an electrician, for example, we would say, 'I'd like you to rough in each house in one day.' After the immediate shock, he would start to say things like, 'Yeah, it's possible, but only if there's nobody in my way, if I'm not tripping over paint cans or ladders, and I have everything neat and clean, so I can see what I'm doing.' Well, we'd do everything he'd say and make it possible."

Before those meetings can happen, Daniels notes, you have to build your construction template. First, establish the exact number of homes you need to sell to break even. If that figure is 120 homes, you need to sell 10 homes per month to break even.

"Everybody should be involved in the planning phase, so we can establish our critical path," he adds. "Then you can do centralized scheduling and allocate resources to priority areas based on your critical path."

Finally, he adds, take measure of your results: "Schedule daily, measure your capacity daily, analyze delays daily, and create closed-loop communication, so you get feedback on starts, product development, delays, and closings."