First Quarter 2014

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”


What is this? Look inside!


24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082

843 846 2500


First Quarter 2014

Announcing Noah Sinclair Burdick

Noah Sinclair Burdick at 6 hours of age.

Bill and Kandy Burdick welcome a new grandchild. Noah Sinclair Burdick was born to their son, Bill and daughter-in-law, Elizabeth on February 24. Noah is Bill & Liz’s eighth child. He is Bill and Kandy’s 30th grandchild and Willis and Debby’s 40- something niece/nephew!

Update on Aaron Wolcott

About a year ago, we wrote many of you about Aaron Wolcott. Gordon, Tom and Caleb are some of his older brothers.

Aaron is in his early 20s. He was diagnosed with lymphatic leukemia. Many of you responded very generously. The Wolcotts thank you for that kindness.

For the past year, Aaron has been undergoing chemo (and who knows what else) treatments.

So far, his condition has stabilized. He still has chemo treatments every two weeks. Aaron is back home with his young family. He is able to work a few days between treatments.

Thank you all for your prayers and financial gifts.

Newsletter Changes

Starting in 2014, we are going to a quarterly format with our newsletters. We are also having them commercially printed.

If you have any topics you would like for us to cover in upcoming newsletters, please let us know.

From the desk

of Bill …

Back in a “previous life”, I did design work for several major electronic companies.

I worked on weather radar systems, airborne navigation systems and televisions.

It seemed we engineers were always struggling to make cost goals, deadlines and still have good designs. (Later in my engineering career, I was on the other side of the table. The same challenges were there, however.)

We used to say:

Quality, Speed, Cost: choose any two.

What we really meant was it was relatively easy to achieve any two of these three. Achieving all three took a lot more effort.

At Willis Sinclair Homes, we spend the effort and give our customers all three. Excellent work done quickly for a reasonable cost.

The secret is that there is no secret – just a lot of work. Of course, sometimes hard work scares others more than not knowing a supposed “secret”.

Read how we build first quality homes quickly and cost effectively.


VP, Willis Sinclair, Inc.

Professional Engineer, Retired

843 846 2500

Cost Effective Quality, Quickly

Many builders where we work routinely take a year, two years or even more to build homes. The supposed ‛take away’ is it takes time to build a quality home. That is a nice idea, but like many nice ideas, it is wrong.

Obviously if a builder takes shortcuts to achieve speed, that will result in poor quality. Taking shortcuts is a popular tool in a lazy person’s toolbox. It should not be in the toolbox of any quality builder. Any builder that sacrifices quality for either speed or cost is not in it for the long run.

There are several keys for building quickly without sacrificing quality or just throwing money at a project. The most important key is to get organized and stay organized.

Key 1: Develop a Schedule.

At Willis Sinclair, we schedule projects so we know when we will need different subs and materials.

We can tell our electricians, for example, when we will need them a couple of weeks in advance so they can plan also. If we call a sub and give them notice and another builder calls them and demands they come out immediately, who do you suppose will get priority? We do. Not only that, but we can count on our subs having the supplies they need because they have time to procure them.

Of course things may shift a bit, but certainly no more than the “fly by the seat of the pants” techniques used by many.

Key 2: Run Tasks in Parallel

Another key is running as many subs in parallel as possible. If subs are working on the exterior siding, you can easily have workers inside doing many tasks. There is no rule saying only one sub can work on a job at a time.

This running subs in parallel works out well in many cases. It costs less than the ‛one sub at a time’ on the job. Running subs in parallel even helps quality.

The cost is often lower. For instance, if a plumber needs an air conditioner duct moved and the air conditioner tech is working next to him, moving the duct is quick and easy. No one has to wait a day or two until an air conditioner tech is available. Since the AC tech is there, the plumber is not tempted to “fix” the duct himself. It works well for achieving the ‛triple crown’ (quality, speed, cost).

Key 3: Have a Full Time Supervisor

Sometimes there might be some complaining or grumbling when a sub has to stop what he is doing and make an adjustment. That brings up the third key: have a supervisor on the job all of the time. If questions come up or people argue about who should do what, a good supervisor can resolve issues immediately and get things moving. If the supervisor is not on site, what happens? Probably either the wrong thing or nothing.

Of these three keys, the first and most important is scheduling. At Willis Sinclair Homes, we use project software very similar to software that was used to put man on the moon over 50 years ago.

The Gantt chart shows who is scheduled to do what and when. By carefully thinking out projects before the first shovelful of dirt is moved, we can know when we need cabinets on site, for example. Cabinets normally take six or eight weeks, so if you happen to think you might need them next week, you get a several week delay, maybe pay extra for a rush job at the cabinet shop and dubious quality since the cabinets were rushed.

The chart above is a small portion of a Gantt Chart we use to schedule our projects. By using this software, we are able to see the critical path (in red). Items in the critical path can delay the project while those not in the critical path (blue) can slip before they impact the final date. This information gives the supervisor knowledge about which tasks get priority.

The chart also clearly shows that many things can happen while the project is waiting for permit approval. Of course, a ‛fly by the seat of the pants’ builder can argue he can run tasks like this. He can … as long as he focuses on the job, thinks logically and has an excellent memory.

Another saying applies here: “Sometimes when you are up to your elbows in alligators, it is difficult to remember the task is to drain the swamp.” Focusing gets difficult with lots of “alligators” nearby.

If he has a Gantt Chart, the supervisor doesn’t have to wonder what to do or when to order materials. All he has to do is look at the chart. It automatically helps him focus on the job at hand.

Do these three keys (scheduling, full time supervisor and running tasks in parallel) work? The last guest house we built (2400 square feet) took 4 months and 2 weeks from digging footers to the CO. The one we built before that, a cut up design, took 183 calendar days (including holidays at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year).

If a builder says you cannot have quality, speed and good cost, you need a new builder.

Call us. We can give you all three!


Willis Sinclair Homes

We will never knowingly disappoint you!

Call Us

843 846 2500

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