Five easy tips to follow for quality control in construction management

Construction project management can be challenging at times. Even if it stays on schedule and within budget, if the project doesn’t meet quality acceptance standards, it risks not just upsetting stakeholders but also triggering possible legal action. According to research, 12% of construction defects are the result of system and material failures, while over half (54%) of all errors may be linked to human factors like untrained labour or insufficient supervision.

And given the high rates of defects on average construction projects of late, quality management can often mean different things to different people and urges the construction industry to streamline quality control by reviewing line-of-work processes.

Quality control is a detailed process evaluation and management system that outlines what acceptable quality assurance looks like, how it can be monitored, and the required adjustments to make sure benchmarks are reached. In the construction sector, quality assurance is crucial to a firm’s expansion, reputation management, and revenue generation.

What is quality control in construction?

Construction quality control ensures the finished product adheres to the norms and requirements established by the client, and the regulations and legislation imposed by industry bodies and/or government. That entails both finishing the project within the agreed-upon parameters and preventing conflicts throughout the course of the construction project.

Customers, regulatory bodies, environmental standards, and policy directives all determine quality. A construction quality management plan contains a list of all these requirements for quality assurance and outlines methods to achieve them. It is worth noting, construction quality has two significant components: quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA).

QC aims to attain excellence, whereas QA establishes the quality management expectations and the methodologies that will be used to achieve that excellence. The construction QC manager drives this quality management plan throughout all phases of the project.

What is the importance of construction quality control?

Customer satisfaction hinges on the project being completed according to the quality guidelines. If a client isn’t happy, the project isn’t successful. Therefore, controlling the quality of construction projects is crucial. And, it doesn’t only it raise customer satisfaction; it also means the project will face fewer issues, rework, and waste caused by errors or poor quality.

This can also help to ultimately avoid cost blowouts and missed deadlines, both of which can jeopardise the reputation of the project itself and that of the companies involved.

How to introduce quality control procedures?

With cutthroat competition across the industry, it’s essential to avoid leaving quality to chance. This means every project needs to follow five key steps to achieve QC:

Make a QA checklist

Create a QA checklist to ensure that the building inspection process is thorough and less likely to miss anything. This list should be precise and it should include a punch list for pre-task discussions on how to carry out the work. Having a checklist lets the crew know what is crucial in their tasks, reduces the chance of human error, and ensures quality control is met.

Create a plan for site inspections

Ensure that a qualified or accredited person checks the completed work carefully to confirm whether it satisfies the QA standards. This person should work to an inspection plan that outlines what will be inspected and when, as well as what standards it needs to meet.

Define build quality expectations clearly and early

All building projects have certain standards they must meet, as well as some discretionary quality requirements. It’s important to ensure that everyone involved in the project understands what these requirements are, the methodologies in place to achieve these requirements, and the timeline allocated to the project. This involves meeting all coding standards, finishing the project without any errors, and adhering to the client’s instructions.

To make sure everyone is on the same page, it’s crucial to communicate the expectations to superintendents, crew, subcontractors, and everyone else involved in the building project.

Follow all on-site safety and compliance requirements

Safety and compliance requirements are in place to help protect workers and organisations involved in a project. By meeting these requirements, organisations can also mitigate instances of subpar work, poor materials, or construction defects, and ensure all work on site is completed to the outlined acceptable compliance standards.

Construction companies can benefit from using a trustworthy time-tracking tool to ensure employees take the required breaks and don’t work excessive overtime, for example, because a fatigued employee is more likely to take a shortcut or make a mistake.

Review, revise and rework as needed

Often, QA processes will identify construction defects that need to be corrected. This is a sign that the system is working. However, it’s important to remember that correcting the defect isn’t the last step in the process. It’s valuable to review what transpired and debrief with the team to understand how the error occurred and what the team can do to avoid repeating it.

To ensure that the problem doesn’t surface elsewhere, this should also be communicated to the entire team. Add the discovered information to the inspection checklist, if necessary.

How quality management software can help your firm

Currently, too many organisations are missing out on opportunities to improve quality assurance (QA) and reduce costs because they’re still using manual techniques for construction quality assurance, particularly during the construction and inspection phases.

Usually, the site manager regularly inspects the area—often using a pen and paper to create handwritten, manual reports—to make sure that workers are adhering to QA standards.

However, this can be a cumbersome and ineffective method that results in inaccurate reports. A new generation of building document management software seeks to significantly increase efficiency, accuracy, and cost effectiveness. By using a digital QA platform like PlanRadar, construction firms can streamline aspects of typical building site operations:

  • Plan comparison: if the architect’s plan changes, everyone working on the project is immediately informed rather than having to wait for a paper blueprint to be delivered.
  • Task management: PlanRadar lets site managers assign tasks to specific employees and then check to see if the job was completed to the required standard. To verify this, the workers can take pictures or videos of the task they’ve finished.
  • Report generation: site managers can quickly produce quality assurance report templates so that all interested parties can assess development. These status reports can also highlight newly discovered quality problems so that corrective action can be taken.
  • Building inspections: users can ensure that the work has been finished to their standards of quality and note any problems directly on the blueprint.
  • Real-time communication: quality in construction relies on constant communication and rapid responses to queries, and communication is key to ensuring the highest possible level of building quality. With real-time communication, all project participants can ask questions, raise tickets, or submit feedback and reports as soon as they come up.

Using a cloud-based construction management tool can help improve QC in real time using data to satisfy all needs at any stage of the build, from design to planning to construction.

Bart Crowther is the Regional Lead for PlanRadar Australia.