AS HOME BUILDERS TODAY MEET INCREASING demand for new homes across the country, we carry an important responsibility: imparting quality in each home we build. Whether building one home or 30,000 homes, builders must share a commitment to quality construction. As a large and growing builder, those of us at KB Home continually look for ways to deliver quality craftsmanship in each home we build and at all stages of the building process.

With this in mind, KB Home is implementing a first of its kind quality assurance initiative with the NAHB Research Center. The National Housing Quality (NHQ) certified trade contractor program is a powerful tool in assuring and documenting best construction practices.

Based on accepted international business standards, the program is designed to train and certify all trades involved in the home building process—from the foundation to the roof. It emphasizes efficiency, accountability, and communication on the jobsite. For certification, contractors complete 15 hours of classroom training, create a customized quality assurance program and manual, and undergo random site evaluations. The contractors also participate in an annual audit in which they must demonstrate continuous improvements in order to be re-certified. Initial certification takes a minimum of three months.

Bruce Karatz is chairman and CEO of KB Home. The rigorous process is very much worth the effort. We piloted the program in our Las Vegas division, an operation delivering approximately 3,000 homes annually. With thousands of individuals working on these houses, we've seen a measurable benefit to the harmony created on the jobsite when all of the workers have been through the same training.

Based on this experience, we made the decision to ultimately require all of our trade partners to be certified through the NHQ program in order to continue doing work for our company, making us the first major home builder to implement this comprehensive quality assurance initiative on a national scale. Having seen the results, I can tell you it's a win-win situation for all: contractors become more efficient and profitable, builders get better-trained workers and faster build times, and customers get quality homes delivered on time.

As a large builder, we know that by training our subcontractors we are affecting the entire industry in the places we build. Builders rely on our subcontractors to build the product that carries our name. At KB Home, we select trade partners whose commitment to quality mirrors our own and we put measures in place throughout the construction process to build quality into every home.

Certification allows people building a KB home in San Diego to receive the same third-party training as the people building a KB home in San Antonio. This consistency in quality and process is a tremendous advantage as we continue to aggressively expand our operations across the country.

There's another reason why this kind of certification program makes sense for builders such as KB Home: The insurance industry is taking notice. Better documentation of quality assurance at all levels of the building process is likely to reduce litigation exposure, which results in decreased insurance rates and lower costs for everyone.

I truly believe home builders do some of the most important work in the world. We are building the houses where families spend their lives and raise their children, and this is why I've been in this business for more than 30 years. With this in mind, KB Home constantly looks to raise the bar on quality and customer satisfaction. The NAHB has used its unique resources and knowledge to create this pioneering program for the benefit of the home building industry. If you ever needed a reason to give quality assurance a new emphasis, this is it.

For more information on the NAHB Research Center's NHQ program, contact Dean Potter, director of quality programs, at (800) 638-8556, ext. 6267 or

Editor's Note: This column is a forum provided to the CEOs of America's largest home builders who, in cooperation with the NAHB, will address issues of interest. Your questions or responses to this column should be sent to Wyatt Kash, editor, BIG BUILDER magazine, at