Certified Graduate Master Builder, Texas Star Builder Senior Instructor for University of Housing, NAHB

For the past year and a half the United States housing market has made national and international news. Builders across the country are starting less homes and dusting off their crystal balls to see when the next boom will come. History shows that real estate will hit bottom again ( some predict by this summer ) and start a slow recovery. Those of us in the business for three decades have seen this many times. During a strong housing market, home builders spend most of their time producing sold units or homes to sell. Unlike other industries, our product is delivered in pieces, to a dirt receiving dock, in all types of weather. It is assembled by contractors who don’t really work for any of us, and do much work for all of us. During these “good times” home buyers are plentiful and the challenge is production. When the cycle reverses, there are less homes to be built and there is more time to reflect, and learn. While most builders want to do the best possible job for their customers, many will agree that they don’t spend enough time learning more about their industry.

Through its educational arm, The University of Housing, The National Association of Homebuilders in Washington D.C. has stepped up efforts to get homebuilders back into the classroom. Each year NAHB is funding new classes for builders and remodelers to train them in not only building basics ( a refresher for many ) but in advanced construction technologies, marketing techniques and customer service. Over 20 years ago the national association established a “Designation” program for homebuilders and remodelers. The Certified Graduate Builder (CGB) designation was first and required builders to attend a series of full day courses complete with written exams. Next, the Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) followed the same template with courses specifically designed for this group.

Today, builders with over 10 years experience are offered a Graduate Master Builder (GMB) designation for attending a series of advanced classes on subjects such as Quality Practices, Diversification, Land Acquisition, Negotiation Skills and Construction Job Costs and Accounting. Unlike the late 80’s and early 90’s when these classes were first introduced, the classrooms today are often full. New courses in Green Building, Energy Efficient Construction, Insurance Restoration and Project Management offer builders more opportunities to get, and stay current in new home technology. NAHB designated March as National Designation Month in an effort to encourage more builders and remodelers to complete the required classes for their next designation.

In our industry, the worst construction experiences get the most media coverage. Unhappy homeowners tell their story on the 10 o’clock news and all builders are tarnished in some way. Professional Designations are a good way for home builders and remodelers to demonstrate to the public their commitment to being the best. In the classrooms, participants leave their egos at the door and work together on learning the material and the practical application of a specific subject. The result is better building. Home buyers can benefit from this process by seeking builders and remodelers with these NAHB designations. They will know that their prospective builder is dedicated to continuing education, self improvement and happier customers through quality practices. The State of Texas recently got into the designation business as well. The Texas Residential Construction Commission ( TRCC ) is the government’s regulatory arm for new home construction and remodeling projects over $ 10,000. This commission established the Texas Star Builder program to screen and designate builders who pass a strict screening process and agree to more stringent construction, financial and insurance standards. Texas Star Builders must re-apply for the designation every year and agree to a minimum of 16 hours of continuing education every twelve months. A list of current Texas Star Builders is available on the TRCC website at www.trcc.state.tx.us.

Like the computer, automobile, cell phone and electronics industries homebuilding technology is changing every day. Builders know that savvy buyers spend more time researching products than ever before. When we are busy building homes it is an effort to keep up. In slower times we return to classrooms and work harder to be better. NAHB attributes the increased participation in the designation program to the expectation of homebuyers that builders be better educated and more on top of current technology. Certified Graduate Builders and Remodelers, Graduate Master Builders, Green Builders and Texas Star Builders are doing that. We are all working together to build more energy efficient, environmentally friendly and state of the art homes. And, in one of the classes we are also taught how to make the process more fun for you. For a list of designated homebuilders and remodelers in your area contact you local home builders association.