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She's Picky, Picky to Have Homes Perfect

October 18, 1987|EVELYN De WOLFE | Times Staff Writer

She is the quality-control director for Griffin Homes and the real-life counterpart to television's tough-talking Hanes' Inspector 12.

No Griffin home can be sold unless Monica Roland says it can.

A no-nonsense but genial person, she readily admits to being an inveterate nit-picker, whose special knack for spotting less-than-perfect detailing, she says, ends up "making everyone look good."

Her reward is in having earned the respect of predominantly male construction crews "for doing my job right." "Monica has a lot of clout around here," said one construction worker. She also has the full support of Paul E. Griffin Jr., president of the home building firm based in Calabasas that posted a sales volume of $83 million in 1986.

"Her role as director of quality control for Griffin is to scrutinize each unit as if it were her own, and with the purchaser's viewpoint in mind," said Griffin, whose family has been in the home building field since 1903.

'Makes Good Sense'

"It's been our corporate philosophy and a top priority in our company to care about product quality and to respond to the needs and wants of our home buyers. It simply makes good sense to care that much about our image."

Griffin Homes' quality-control program recruits participation of subcontractors as well as other Griffin vendors who are rewarded at "Sub Award" festivities.

Research was conducted (through interviews with home buyers at Griffin communities) to establish what amenities buyers want in a new home. These surveys have become the guidelines for the features that are to be found in all Griffin homes, the firm's president stated.

A customer relations department, headed by a corporate vice president, was formed to serve buyers/residents needs, while the quality control program was established to conduct walk-throughs on every home at least 30 days in advance of home buyer walk-throughs.

Roland's current assignment is to check out the 100 units of the Gardens project in the Hidden Canyon development where 415 two-story town houses are being completed on a hilltop. The units range from 1,192 to 1,441 square feet and are selling for from $131,000 to $149,000.

Checks out Units

A normal workday for Roland begins at 7 a.m., and she is a familiar sight on Griffin subdivisions, accompanied by assistant superintendent Jim Evans and painting and drywall contractors as they check out each completed unit.

"We are her shadows," says Evans. "We follow her around and correct what we can on the spot (paint touch-ups, texture inconsistencies, windows that aren't plumb, squeaky floor boards)."

Problems that cannot be addressed on the spot are logged for correction, and within five days Roland reinspects the entire unit.

"She's sharp as a tack, no one is better than Monica, a real trouper," said one admiring co-worker.

"My tools are simple and they work--a flashlight, a side view mirror on an extension pole, a putty knife and some red and blue tape. I poke around a lot and I have developed my own inspection techniques and shortcuts. After all, I've been doing this for a very long time," Roland said.

Marks Defects

"My method is to mark all nicks and chips needing repainting with red tape and all wall work with blue tape. It's easier that way for the painter or the drywall man to locate at a glance the area he needs to fix."

Roland thinks nothing of climbing into a sink to reach up over a ledge with her extension mirror poised to check if the ledge is properly sealed. Every outer door and every window is checked for proper sealing, she said.

Roland spends about one hour and a half on each unit inspection and covers as many as five or six units a day. At the end of the day, she has usually checked off between 50 and 60 items that need attention.

Roland created her own inspector's job years ago when she was hired by Larwin Homes. "It wasn't easy at first to convince developers that my kind of work was needed, that it could be cost-efficient and result in boosting the builder's image," she said. "Homeowners are impressed when they look at a new home and don't find a whole lot of mistakes.

"Supers (superintendents) used to complain to developers: 'What the hell does she know about construction?' They soon found out and began to appreciate the fact that my job was making them look good," Roland added.

"But all of that is in the past. The crews and I get along really well together, we respect one another and I guess you might say, I'm just one of the boys now."

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