TEXT IN RED is a LINK. Customer Service Lake Wilson Explosion Building Official Update Website Updates Disaster Memorandum 2 Technical Opinions Upcoming Training Advisory committee form u BCSD On the Move: Annual School HUD/MHCC Meeting u Survey & Email Request u u u u


Customer service was a hot topic with a standing-room only
crowd participating in a seminar that Charles Durenberger and Fred Driver conducted at a Builders Association of Minnesota (BAM) day-long training event last month. “‘No one is listening to me!’ is the complaint I hear most often when people call to complain about a firm they are working with,” stated Fred Driver, Building Codes and Standards Division code administration supervisor. He continued, “Frequently small problems become major sources of anger when customers perceive they are being ignored or dismissed, even when that isn’t necessarily the case. Their anger is further compounded by normal stress of a building project, so a minor item that could have been resolved quickly becomes a very personal issue.” “Almost all of our complaints involve an element of the contractor’s failure to communicate with their customer,” added Charles Durenberger, Department of Commerce, Market Assurance Division, investigation supervisor. “I stress the importance of documenting as much as possible, particularly items that will change either the scope of work being performed or the final cost of the project. Change orders should always be documented in a log or file for a job.” Both presenters stressed the human side of the business. “Contractors should keep in mind that although construction or remodeling of a home may be a way for them to make a living, it is a hugely important matter to their customer.” explained Durenberger, “Customers invest much personal time and emotion into the project, to say nothing of the financial capital, and they must be treated with respect and understanding.” Fred and Charles’ advice is reflected in a homeowner satisfaction study conducted by NRS Corporation in 2003. The results of the
continued on page 3

Resolution #1: LISTEN

For photos, fun facts, and directions go to: Thanks to the hundreds of trades workers involved in building — from the ground-floor ice rink to the roof!

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Check out the new website: Your one stop for code information.


When Disaster Strikes


Congratulations to the state’s recently designated municipal Building Officials:

Building officials joined emergency personnel in responding to an explosion that rocked Lake Wilson the night of January 12th. Photos by Dan Kelsey, Building Codes &
Standards Division Structural Engineer



• Robert Baumann – Carlos • Mick Kaehler – Pine Springs • Alan Strand – Rosemount • Bernard Schulte – Dassel and Cokato • Philip Drotning – Sandstone • Loren Kohnen – Montgomery • Armand Eshleman – Worthington • Dale Kurtz – Byron • Paul Waldron – Kimball and Green Isle

Be sure to check the website at least once a week:


Current notices in What’s New: u Mechanical Bond information is currently posted at the very top of this section because cities frequently access the list. RECENT POSTINGS: What’s New: u Disaster Memo u Memorandum Regarding the Use of Platform Lifts in Change of Occupancy, Minnesota Rules Chapter 1311 u Information Regarding Manufactured Structures Seminars Link to u Memorandum regarding info to Cold Weather Concrete order a and Masonry & Booklet booklet. u Memorandum Regarding Sizing of Secondary Roof Drains Rules Section: u 1346 - Notice of Continuance of Hearing Relating to Adoption of 2000 IMC/IFGC u Rule Change Request form for Advisory Committees OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST: u BCSD Calendar (exams, seminars) u The Standard (current and past issues) u Minn. State Building Code in pdf format u Map with directions to BCSD u Counties that have adopted the code. u Question Form and Contact Info

After a collective sigh of relief that no one was injured in an explosion that rocked Lake Wilson, a town located in southwestern Minnesota, assessment and recovery work began. As with most disasters, emergency crews first assess personal injuries and damage posing imminent danger such as gas leaks and downed power lines. The second wave of disaster response personnel includes building inspectors. Mark Hensen is the Regional Building Official for Region 4. He was joined by other building officials responsible for assessing structural damage. As outlined in the Disaster Preparedness Manual, the assessment includes Dangerous - Keep Out preparing damage Uninhabitable reports and tagging buildings as to their safety and accessibility. Because public buildings One of the signs buildings might be tagged with after a were included it damage assessment. the damage it was fortunate that the explosion happened at night. Additional information will be provided in future issues of the Standard.
Building Department



The Disaster Preparedness Manual is posted as a pdf document on the website: Click on Informational Printouts & Forms


Customer Service continued
“Change orders
should always be executed and conversations should be documented in a log or file for the job.” BAM event
study are detailed in Housing Zone: Scoring Points with Customers ( According to the report, remodelers who truly excel in customer satisfaction have distinguished themselves from the competition in the following areas: - Quality processes for working with customers. - Pre-planned standards for dealing with the inevitable questions, concerns, and problems. - Instead of trying to control customers rigidly, these companies encourage homeowners input and make customers feel empowered. - Let customers set the standards of how communication should work during the project. - Make a point of being accessible to clients at all times. - Accept accountability for every aspect of each remodeling project, whether the fault lies elsewhere, and well beyond walk-through and warranty. Bottomline: Firms that communicate a philosophy that great service is ultimately more important than cutting margins were the most successful. The study measures the following components of customer satisfaction: project design, quality of materials, quality of workmanship, work-site conditions, production schedules, budget, the value-to-price relationship, the sales process, the production process, punchlist items and process, and pre-contract expectations. Remodelers scored lowest in the following areas: Number of walk-through items Price/value of project Adherence to production schedule Time taken to correct walk-through items Adherence to budget Cleanliness of work site Communication of price changes caused by change orders Where do codes fit into successful communications? Well, first of all, building to code is not considered at ‘above and beyond’ service. Builders are expected to know and follow the code which is available through Minnesota’s Bookstore. As for developing or fine-tuning a customer service program, there are many resources available. In addition to industry-sponsored training opportunities, (link to list of industry organizations), check out some of these resources on the web:
continued on page 5

“It is ok say ‘no’
to a customer as long as you communicate your position respectfully and clearly.” BAM event

“Rather than

under-promise and over-deliver, these companies acknowledge their customers’ fears, promise the moon anyway and then strive to deliver the sun as well as the moon.” NRS Study

“Examples of

going above and beyond for customers include baby-sitting their children, shoveling snow from their walkways and driveways, preparing or monitoring dinner for them, bringing them breakfast, and walking their pets.” NRS Study

Seminar participants benefited from the opportunity to discuss customer service challenges and solutions with their peers. Do you have a customer service ‘tip’ to share or a customer challenge you would like to get feedback about (using fake names of course). Submit it using our REQUEST form to be included in a future issue. (name optional)


BCSD staff are always On the Move...
q The 48TH Annual Institute for Building Officials
In addition to presentations regarding building codes and specialized training seminars, the Annual Institute provides an excellent opportunity to meet with peers in the industry. BCSD staff who participated as presenters included Duane DeLonais, Mike Fricke, Peter Kulczyk, Paul Heimkes, Greg Karow, Tom Joachim, Jim Muyres, Jerry Norman, Randy Vogt, and Curt Wiehle.

Merwyn Larson, Director of Inspections for the Minneapolis receiving the Alvin Kleinbeck, Code Official of the Year award recognizing an individual for professional contributions to code enforcement.

Russell Thornberg, Chapter President for the ICC SW Minnesota Chapter, accepting the Educator of the Year award from Roger Axel, the Association of Minnesota Building Officials (AMBO) Chairman, and Building Official for the City of New Hope.

q The Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee

(HUD/MHCC) Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, Dec. 9-11, 2003. One of the main items of the agenda was the review and finalization of the National Manufactured Home Installation Standard draft. The draft was reviewed and approved by the MHCC to forward (forwarded to the Secretary of HUD 12/18/03) to HUD for final review, comment, and publication of proposed rule. Discussions at the meeting also included • A future installation program for the licensing/ certification and training of installers (task force appointed to draft outline of program Randy Vogt-chair State of MN, Mark Nunn-MHI, Alan Youse-AARP, and Richard Weinert- State of CA). • The priorities and resources of HUD for the MHCC and the program administrator-NFPA. • Possibility of accessibility standards incorporated into HUD construction standards. • Possible CFR 3282 Regulations, Subpart I (consumer protection) revisions to the regulations. • Review of possible incorporation of proposed construction standards, CFR3280.

The HUD/MHCC full committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 24,25,and 26, 2004, in Washington, DC Conference calls scheduled prior to the next full committee meeting are: Installation sub-committee 1/8/04 and 1/20/04 Regulatory sub-committee 1/27/04 Full MHCC 2/13/04

Randy Vogt, BCSD - Manufactured Structures (back row, sixth from left) with other members of the HUD/MHCC during a tour of CAVCO in Phoenix.


Customer Service continued from page 3
A Sampling of Building Industry Customer Service Resources Through the Internet: Samples of Housing Zone Articles -
Communications, Communications, Communications article The NRS top performers prove that open, honest and frequent conversation with clients is the key to customer satisfaction. Scoring Points With Customers article Good news from NRS Corp study verified by Professional Remodeler

National Association of Home Builders has many resources including books, many addressing the ‘soft side’ of the building business - customer communications from both the customer’s and builder’s perspective - Don’t dismiss the books written for customers. They could be useful guides for looking at your business as your customer would. For example, would your firm meet the quality and value criteria outlined in this book? Review the list of places they suggest looking for referrals including previous customers. How would your customers respond to questions such as “Are you happy with your new home?” “ If you had any problems, were they fixed promptly and properly?” and “Would you buy a home from this builder?” The book states that people will usually tell you if they are pleased with their homes and if they aren’t, they want to tell you why. Add a Customer Manual to your ‘tools of the trade’. Top-rated firms in the NRS study included a customer manual in their ‘tools of the trade’ and many of the NAHB site books give suggestions on how to create one. A Customer Manual can be used to initially market a company, manage a project, and provide the home-owner with information to reference after the project is completed. Start with a $5 3-ring binder with a clear slip-in cover for a sheet identifying your firm. Suggestions for tabs and information with those tabs include:

Your marketing information - who, what, where, and why your firm should be selected.


Define the terms you use most frequently (the ones you need customers to understand). Include photos or illustrations when appropriate.


Highlight dates that require home owner cooperation. Document expectations - don’t assume anything - put it in writing.

Help your customer finish their ‘Homeowner’s Manual’ - a place for maintenance tips, warranty info, and resource contacts.

Copies of critical documents. Who can they contact - names and phone numbers.


This manual gave them piece of mind, and helped create a home they love. Now let them say thanks.


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