PROJECT SPOTLIGHT ON HOMES BY EAGLE
See how FinishLine improves communication and saves time for this home builder
- QA/QC Management
- Team Communication
Homes by Eagle specializes in building production style single family homes, operating in Evansville, Indiana. We spoke with Shane Clements, President and owner of Homes by Eagle, and Mike Schulze, Construction Supervisor. Shane’s father Tony started Clements Construction in 1975 which eventually became Homes by Eagle. Shane took over the role of company president in 1999.
The company focuses on production style homes which are typically set in one of two development communities in the Evansville area. The price of homes offered ranges from the mid $100,000 to the mid $200,000. Most clients are first time homebuyers, on their first move up, or retirees. Homes by Eagle has a selection of over 35 plans for clients to choose from and personalized modifications are made as needed.
Like many companies in the construction industry, Homes by Eagle used a paper and pencil checklist system. They had three different people working on tracking issues. As the owner, Shane would typically visit job sites daily to review progress and meet with subcontractors. Homes by Eagle also has a field supervisor who is on the job site and a construction supervisor who does scheduling and is on the job site a quarter of each day.
Either Shane, the construction supervisor, or field supervisor would identify punch list issues in the field. Then the process of writing it down and starting the chain of communication would begin. This meant calling each other and/or calling the subcontractor to determine if the issue had already been identified and where it was in the process of being fixed. In some instances, subcontractors might be contacted multiple times about the same issue from different parties trying to track the same punch list item, which became frustrating for everyone.
(the Excel spreadsheet) method “…became impossible, because it doesn’t have the communication feature” like FinishLine does.
Shane mentioned that before using FinishLine, “we had no centralized communication point.” Sometimes the issue was documented on a form, along with the phone call to the subcontractor being documented in a log book. Then routine follow-up was needed to make sure the punch list item had been completed. At one point, Shane tried using an Excel spreadsheet to track things, but that method “…became impossible, because it doesn’t have the communication feature” like FinishLine does.
They were also facing challenges with using different punch list descriptions. Mike Schulze, the Construction Supervisor explained, “if there’s a bathtub that has damage like a crack on it…one person might say ‘there’s a crack on the back’ while the next guy might say ‘no well it’s actually on the side’ so you could get three or four different descriptions for the same issue.” These punch list discrepancies and multiple communication issues were slowing down the team.
...before using FinishLine “you could get 3 or 4 different descriptions for the same issue.”
SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS
Shane started to look for punch list management solutions due to “the amount of time we spent finding problems and trying to communicate them.” A lot of their work was repetitive as people were finding the same problems and would start the process to fix it, with another person finding the same issue the next day and starting the process again. While such positive efforts were being made to address punch list items, Shane knew they needed to improve their system and he decided to use FinishLine.
ESTABLISHING A DISCIPLINED APPROACH
Since adopting FinishLine, the Homes by Eagle team now has an established punch list process for exterior, site, warranty, and erosion control issues. Punch list items are identified by taking a photo of the issue and documenting the item location and description, which is input into the FinishLine Pro App. This information is compiled into reports and sent via email to the responsible subcontractors or suppliers to initiate a repair or replacement. Then they are able to efficiently review the work to completion.
Mike Schulze (Construction Supervisor) noted that “It’s (FinishLine) made the process a whole lot faster and it makes it a lot clearer when it goes to the subs. Now we have a process that is routine, it doesn’t vary from job to job or day to day, so everyone is on the same page when we do have an issue.” Mike also mentioned that using FinishLine “...does expedite the repair” to speed up the process of identifying issues to having them resolved. Punch list reports are typically batched and emailed out every few days, depending on the urgency of repairs.
Mike also pointed out that FinishLine has helped the team solve the problem of having multiple descriptions being used for the same issue. He said that before using FinishLine “you could get 3 or 4 different descriptions for the same issue.” By using FinishLine they are able to “…narrow it down so everyone is on the same page.”
“Now we have a process that is routine, it doesn’t vary from job to job or day to day, so everyone is on the same page when we do have an issue.”
EASE OF USE
Learning to use FinishLine was straightforward, as Shane mentioned “it’s a pretty easy system to use…” and “…it’s pretty self-explanatory.” Shane told us that with the efficiency of FinishLine, he has been able to get out of the punch list loop, allowing his field supervisor and construction supervisor to take over the bulk of the inspection tasks as the point people, freeing up his time for his other responsibilities. At the same time, Shane can oversee progress by simply viewing the status of issues, reviewing outstanding items and seeing where they are in the process of being addressed.
STREAMLINING COMMUNICATION SAVES TIME
Shane calculated that using FinishLine has saved each field worker 4-6 hours per week. He attributes the time savings largely to FinishLine's ability to communicate clearly with stakeholders. Shane mentioned, “I’m no longer making those phone calls or communicating with my people (by phone) as often” since adopting FinishLine. Shane commented that FinishLine reduces the amount of time the field workers need to communicate with each other, eliminating a plethora of phone calls, text messages, and emails, because they can simply find the critical information about the status of any item in FinishLine.
Shane also sees the value that FinishLine has brought to subcontractors. Shane said, “The sub’s time is important” and “you always want to be the number one contractor to your sub.” Shane attributes FinishLine's reporting system as a key factor in working with his subcontractors. The ability to very quickly individualize reports for each subcontractor, clearly state issues with associated photos, comments, due dates and location on the plan allows the subcontractors to resolve punch items without unnecessary communications to the field inspectors. Shane appreciates how quickly his field team can get reports out to subs after a full day of inspections, with the assurance that the correct subcontractor will receive the report. Shane said that with FinishLine “You get one email (for each subcontractor) to the correct person every time.”
“You get one email (for each subcontractor) to the correct person every time.”
Using FinishLine has helped Homes by Eagle step up their QA/QC process. Shane and his team track the quality of particular products with the software. For example, they were installing a particular bathroom tub that was requiring excessive repairs on multiple home builds. This started the discussion as to whether it was the tub model or another type of issue. After considerations were made, they decided to switch to a higher quality tub model. By tracking such quality related issues they are able to identify and address problems more readily.
THE FINISHLINE TEAM
When it comes to working with the FinishLine team it’s been a positive experience. Shane mentioned that Tom, the Implementation Manager at FinishLine “is a great resource (and) very knowledgeable.” He also mentioned that “the people at FinishLine have done a really good job.”
“the people at FinishLine have done a really good job.”