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The Role of Quality Control in Construction Estimating

The goal of implementing quality control procedures is to ensure that construction work meets client specifications and standards. This is accomplished through regular inspections of the job site.

Although total quality control is impossible, achieving significant reductions in defects year after year can benefit companies. An effective QC program is based on thorough planning and unmatched communication protocols.

Identifying Defects

A construction project’s goal should be to deliver the client the project they envision, safely and within budget. A strong focus on quality control helps ensure this goal is achieved.

A strong construction quality control process begins with the development of a detailed inspection plan that covers all aspects of the project. This is the basis for what will be inspected, and it includes the definition of quality that the contractor agrees to meet and then executes on.

Then the inspections can begin, both for latent and patent defects. These can include issues such as missing drywall, improperly installed electrical wiring or plumbing fixtures, doors and windows that don’t open or close properly and other problems that need to be corrected right away.

In addition to identifying these issues, the team should also look for patterns that impact quality. For example, if concrete with a particular mix design consistently fails strength tests, this may be indicative of a problem in the mix recipe. Bringing this issue to the attention of the QC and QA teams can help resolve the underlying problem and reduce future quality issues.

A solid quality control process keeps an eye on work in real-time to nip issues in the bud, rather than waiting until they are fully formed and harder, and more costly, to fix. This process can also improve safety on the project by ensuring trade partners are focused on doing their work right the first time.

Resolving Defects

Construction defects can impact project performance and result in expensive repairs or delays. It is important to resolve these defects as early in the process as possible. This can be done through inspections and creating a plan to correct these deficiencies before the work is complete. In addition, it is important to document any changes made to the original quality control plan to ensure that all parties are on the same page.

While it is not always easy to spot a defect, it is essential for the project manager to keep an eye out for patterns that may be impacting quality. For example, if concrete with a specific mix design is consistently failing strength tests, it would be a good idea to bring this to the attention of the team so that it can be addressed holistically rather than piecemeal in the field.

The best way to avoid costly defects is to have an effective QC and QA function working together throughout the project. This is especially important for projects that utilize federal, state or local funding. This funding often requires contractors to adhere to strict quality control requirements. These quality requirements typically include reviewing the contractor’s quality plan, testing materials and inspecting the work accomplished for each project. This includes identifying defective work and addressing those issues in accordance with the QC and QA procedures established in the plan.

Analyzing Defects

Construction defects are often caused by a combination of factors. These include poor workmanship, lack of quality control measures, insufficient inspection activities and inadequate supervision. The presence of defects is a serious concern for the safety and reliability of buildings. Defects can also increase maintenance costs and have a negative impact on the project’s timeline and budget.

A good quality control program should minimize the occurrence of defects as much as possible. This may be done by ensuring that materials used meet the minimum standards defined in design specifications, testing samples of work completed, inspecting all finished work and checking for adherence to all necessary safety plans.

In addition, the program should ensure that contractors are adequately trained in their job responsibilities and that they have access to adequate facilities. Finally, it is essential that all involved parties communicate regularly with one another to ensure that quality and safety are top of mind for everyone.

A well-written quality plan provides a roadmap of the steps to be taken during construction to make sure that a building will be safe and sound upon completion. By ensuring that all of the requirements for quality are met, a successful project is more likely to be delivered on time and within budget. An ineffective quality plan can lead to a host of problems, including cost overruns, construction delays and loss of reputation among stakeholders.

Correcting Defects

Although a complete system of quality control cannot prevent all defects, an effective program reduces the rate at which they occur. This reduction allows for a better construction schedule and lower costs. Identifying and correcting defects also makes the job of estimating more efficient, since it is easier to predict the effect of a change in the design or material on building cost.

Some scholars suggest that the most important decisions regarding the quality of a facility are made during its initial design and planning stages. These include decisions concerning component configurations, material specifications and functional performance. Quality control during construction primarily consists of insuring conformance with these original decisions.

While some experts insist that the goal of total quality control is unrealistic for a construction project, most agree that it is important to minimize the number of defects in a finished product. Methods to do this include design reviews, establishing a system of inspection for materials and work and training workers in the principles of quality control. In some cases, such work is done in groups called quality circles, where workers meet to discuss ways to improve quality.

Other methods to reduce defects in construction are kaizen, which is a Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement, and six sigma, which uses a problem-solving framework to eliminate waste. The correlation test in Table (15) shows a moderate association between the ranking of these defect-reducing measures and the mean score of the group.