There is no “typical” day in the life for those who head home building companies. Some days they're in the office, running meetings. Other days they're out in the field, checking on construction. They might be up and out early for a breakfast meeting to discuss a land deal or burning the midnight oil finishing the budget. Crunch time can mean squeezing all those things, and more, into a single day.

This year, we wanted to see what happens behind the scenes on any given day with the 2006 America's Best Builders. The days were as diverse as the companies themselves. The top executives of Mid-Atlantic Builders in Rockville, Md., split their day between meetings and site visits to check on the construction of their high-design homes. We visited another Maryland builder, Caruso Homes, on a Monday filled with meetings that helped plan the company's future growth. Builder's visit to Newport Beach, Calif.–based John Laing Homes shined light on how this high-volume builder is managing new, complex growth while remaining true to its core beliefs and goals.

Their differences aside, these builders share some strong characteristics. They each rely on careful financial management, even in boom times. Their home designs, marketing campaigns, and customer service programs reveal an ability to understand and respond to their buyers, and their community involvement is on the agenda both in formal meetings and in casual conversation.

Ahead Of The Curve: This design-oriented builder meets the needs and wants of affluent Maryland home buyers.

Market Timing: A 20-year veteran of Washington home building leverages success to grow larger and more sophisticated.

Wonder Years: Strong, creative management has helped John Laing Homes post great gains and sets the company up to succeed in new and changing markets.