Monday, January 1, 2018

Dana Corporation "Project 90" - revisited in 2018

What Taylor Morrison hasn't figure out yet, was learned by most of the US based manufacturing companies (like Dana Corporation) back in the 1980s. The cost of bad initial quality,  and the need for quality control and rework is much higher than investing in great quality to start with.  I was part of an initiative called "Project 90" at Dana that sent manufacturing leaders to Japan to learn how they were so meticulous with their builds.  It ended up that manufacturing plants that used to have 10% of their workforce in a Quality Control department, transformed to building better products with no need for Quality Control.  The old way of thinking was "we'll fix it later." That had to be debunked for them to transform.  Transform they did.

My wife and I started a nearly year long process of building a house with Taylor Morrison in early 2016. The model home we fell in love with had all of the features that we had seen spread across other homes, all rolled up in one beautify model.  We could tell after years of shopping that this was the right home,  and a quality builder. It was expensive, but you get what you pay for right?

The first meeting we had with our builder (Chris, the project manager ) was a few weeks before ground was broken.  He said a couple of things that stand out:
  • This is a build it / break it / fix it process
  • I will do whatever possible to get a perfect review at the end
So far so good; still excited. A few weeks later we had a slab, some walls,  and things were progressing well.



Once the framing began, I started to notice some sub-par construction that Chris told we was "within spec." He would say "If the inspector passes it, it's ok." On interior walls and especially on complex hangovers, the boards wouldn't even come close to joining.  "It's not load bearing" was the rule.  My Dad taught me a long time ago that crappy work always comes back to bite you.


This picture may look like something that was fixed, but it wasn't.  It was covered over with other materials.  "It's not load bearing, so it's ok."

Another item we fought with was the rain.  The house was pretty buttoned up with the roof & roof liner, but they did not put any cover on the kitchen stove pipe, or the garage vent pipe that both exit thru the roof.  I twas told it cost too much to have the roofer put a cover on them.  In the meantime,  the rain poured in on the drywall to the point that the wall behind the stove was soaked.  A 5 gallon bucket on the pipe would have saved the drywall that was ultimately replaced (although not officially connected to the wetness).

Problem after problem came from a perfect combination of poor workmanship; no supervision; non-existent hand off between trades. Here are a few:

  • The thermostat was installed up against a piece of trim.  

thermostat installation
  • There was a leak in the roof that I found before the drywall was installed.  They decided to put the drywall up on the ceiling, then fix the leak a week later.  This will come back to haunt me in the years to come. 
    Marker for ceiling leak
  • Two arches were built with the underlying wood not cut correctly.  So instead of fixing it first, they went ahead and drywalled them; textured and then painted them.... all to be reworked. 
    bad arch construction
    bad arch construction
  • There was a leak in the piping inside the concrete of the garage.  I pointed this out and showed them pictures of how the leak was growing over time.  They thought it was someone cleaning out their brushes? Ultimately they had to pull the trim off, cut the concrete out, repair the leak and then rebuild the whole thing. 
    concrete leak growth
  • One of the TAPERED entry columns was installed by leveling one side of the column.  It took three adjustments and quite a few arguments to get this right. Unbelievable.
  • Kitchen pendents were put in the wrong place and had to be moved after the drywall, texture and paint was up. 
    incorrect pendent location
  • The kitchen island was placed in the wrong spot. Tile went in, then cabinets. Electrical was already in the floor.  When they noticed someone hadn't measured correctly, everything had to be moved. 
    incorrect kitchen island location
  • We ordered the pool pre-wire package that was installed on the side of the house that made it unusable due to it being a shared easement.  This prewire (gas, electric, water) had to be relocated to the opposite side of the house then the original side had to be cleaned, re-stucco'd, repainted, etc.
    zoning problems

  • My wife's pride and joy was our level-7 kitchen.  Only the best in her new kitchen.  After it was installed,  there were so many dings and scratches that all needed to be replaced (rework). All of the drawers were no aligned with the doors - those all had to be reworked.  The $4000 cooktop had a big scratch in it that needed buffed out. Cabinet guys install lower trim, then the tile guy tears it back off to put the tile up; then the trim gets reinstalled incorrectly by the tile guy, and ultimately the cabinet guy has to come out and reorder a new piece of trim. 


I could go on and on, but suffice it to say.... this has been a nightmare. It's not our first home build. We went thru this process with Centex a few years ago and had huge success.  Never anything like this.

It's kind of like buying a car, for full retail, that has been wrecked three times but fixed.  Under the shiny new paint is a lot of bondo, wrinkled metal and broken pieces. Sure looks nice on the outside and I don't really have a choice.



Unfortunately there is no way to get out of the deal, and we had to close on it.  After what we witnessed, we didn't even want the house. I know what's under the covers.  It's kind'of like child birth (I'm told): lot's of pain during the process but you get something nice in the end that will last a while.

On a side note, I hope to get an audience with the CEO of Taylor Morrison.  I could easily cut 20% out off their building costs simply be applying techniques learned in Japan back in the 1980's....

Dan Ribar



UPDATE 2018
After more than a year in our new house, almost everything got fixed and we love the house. Taylor Morrison made it all right and built us a nice house. Unfortunately, I got to see how it was built and what is hidden under the shiny exterior. 














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