The Perfect Start

During the “Balancing the Quality + Risk Equation” session at the June Innovation Summit, presenter Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development discussed a rule he followed while working at Pulte Homes that was so entrenched in the company’s quality management practice, it was known as the “Pulte Bible.” More commonly termed by other home builders as a “Start Package,” this quality management tool is ideally comprised of all the details and documents a site supervisor should have on hand before breaking ground on any new construction project.

Rich Rodriguez of Dunhill Homes, a well-known quality guru and industry vet, was also scheduled to present in another quality-related session, “Quality Management Snapshots,” but he was called away to an important meeting for the Navy Seals and unable to be with us.

However, we met with Rich over Skype to record the insights he would have delivered. We’ll roll them out in article and video form over the next few months, starting with this article and video, which echo the importance of the Start Package as a tool for completing a building project on-time and on-budget.


The Start Package is every detail or document a building supervisor should have on hand before he starts a new construction job. However, Rich says, this set of details, whether delivered physically or electronically, is often incomplete and a leading cause of increased cycle times and over-budget projects.

In addition to a complete set of plans, “The Perfect Start” requires a supervisor to ask additional questions: Are the design selections and color selections from the customer complete? Are purchase orders and vendor identification complete? Is there information about the end customer? Are there expectations about dates?

For some builders, a start package means little more than obtaining a building permit.

Rich isn’t pointing fingers. He says it’s a common industry problem, one even he has done.  In fact, he says builders often start projects knowing their plans were incomplete, operating on the promise that they’d catch it up, get the plans, finish the design. Just starting provides an immediate victory—though operating this way can turn out badly in the end to the tune of thousands of dollars in loss.

Rich suggests creating a “Perfect Start” package is a great exercise to do with your entire operational team, including sales and warranty staff. Ask them, “What do we need to start a home and successfully complete it in 90, 120 days—whatever your cycle time is.

It’s yey-opening to have everyone’s input. He also says it’s likely you’ll be amazed what’s missing in your start package. Ultimately, it’s you, the builder, who has to nod your head and decide what your your start package should be comprised of. But Rich promises that doing so will give you a far greater chance of success.

Watch the newsletter and follow us on social to get updates on new quality-related content releases: