THE HOME BUILDING INDUSTRY'S FOCUS ON quality assurance and customer satisfaction has gained momentum in 2004, due in large part to industry participation and leadership in the NAHB Research Center's National Housing Quality (NHQ) program. In the last two months, the Research Center named its 2005 NHQ award winners, announced a groundbreaking offer of discounted general liability insurance for NHQ participants by a national insurance underwriter, and continued to gear up for the national launch of its NHQ Certified Builder initiative at the 2005 International Builders' Show.

Builders recognized for superior quality practices: The NHQ awards, patterned after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, are the highest recognition for quality achievements in the home building industry. Entries are judged by panels of experts who evaluate the role that customer-focused quality plays in construction, business management, sales, design, and warranty service. This year, Grayson Homes of Ellicott City, Md., and Pulte Homes, headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., earned the NHQ Gold Award. Silver NHQ awards were presented to: Estes Builders of Sequim, Wash., Ideal Homes of Norman, Okla., and Veridian Homes of Madison, Wis.

Insurance benefit for certified builders: Discounted insurance for builders involved in NHQ certification programs is available through HBW Insurance Services, a managing general agent with underwriting authority from several insurance companies to underwrite commercial general liability insurance for residential home builders.

The discounts offered by HBW apply to builders who successfully implement the NHQ's quality assurance requirements and complete a certification audit. HBW is offering discounts to builders who require all or a portion of their critical classes of trade contractors to implement the NHQ's Certified Trade Contractor program and successfully complete a certification audit.

The best is yet to come: At the 2005 International Builders' Show, the Research Center will roll out the national implementation of the Certified Builder program and provide an opportunity for builders across the country to become part of this industry-changing initiative. The program is designed to increase efficiency and consistency in building practices. It provides a rigorous and complete review of business practices and ensures that all elements of the company's quality assurance system are incorporated to provide greater customer satisfaction. Other builders participating in the program's pilot are expected to achieve certification by the end of this year.

For more information on the NHQ program, visit