Construction quality: Why do it wrong if you can do it right?
An important lesson to me came through a Foreman who was probably one of the best I have worked with. Our client tasked us with placing concrete inside a concrete silo built by another contractor. The concrete had to slope steeply to an opening in the centre of the floor and the silo would be used to store rock from a mine. I’d said to the Foreman that this was a rushed job and the client was only concerned with the structural integrity, not the aesthetics of the work, so he shouldn’t waste time with finishing the concrete too neatly. The Foreman was horrified at this statement, and told me in no uncertain terms that as long as he was building something it would be to the best quality possible, and finished off correctly. He would not take short cuts. Even if nobody would see this concrete it would be to the same quality as any other concrete he placed. There was only one way to do a project, he’d said, and that was to do it right.
And, of course, he was absolutely right. This is the way we should all view our work and perform our tasks – with pride!
I’m frequently amazed at how many workers have no pride in the quality of the work they produce. Many homes, hotels, apartments and shopping complexes I’ve visited show signs of poor quality. I regularly see examples of poor tiling, walls that are built out of square and doors not fitted correctly.
It’s not only about the paperwork
Unfortunately construction quality control is often forgotten in the rush to complete the project, or sometimes just turns into a paper exercise, and is a task the Project Manager leaves to the Supervisors, or on bigger projects Quality Engineers or Quality Managers. However, it’s the Project Manager’s responsibility to ensure that construction quality control is treated seriously, is not only about paperwork, and that people are delegated with specific responsibilities to deliver the correct quality, understanding what to look for and what the required quality standards are. This is helped considerably when individual tradespeople have the required skills and take pride in the quality of their work.
All the quality paperwork in the world, with all their signatures, will not turn a poor quality product into a good quality product. However the paperwork trail is important in ensuring that proper quality procedures have been implemented and followed.
The cost of poor quality work
Poor construction quality results in:
- Additional costs and delays when work has to be redone.
- A poor reputation for contractors.
- Additional costs to clients when defects have to be repaired later, for increased maintenance costs or for disruptions to their operations while defects are repaired.
- Can cause injury and death if the structure fails.
Construction quality is about:
- Delivering to the client a project that meets and exceeds their standards and specifications.
- Constructing the project in accordance with the construction drawings and design details.
- The project meeting the local by-laws and codes.
- Meeting the code and specification requirements of the state or country (except if the client has particular exemptions allowing deviations from these codes and requirements).
- Meeting the construction company’s standards.
- Meeting your own standards.
The question everyone should ask is, ‘Would I pay for and accept this quality?’ If the answer is no, then the product doesn’t meet the required quality standards, nor is it a product you are proud of.
Written by Paul Netscher the author of the acclaimed books ‘Successful Construction Project Management: The Practical Guide’ and ‘Building a Successful Construction Company: The Practical Guide’. Both books are available in paperback and e-book from Amazon and other retail outlets. This article is adapted from information included in these books. To read more visit www.pn-projectmanagement.com.
© 2015 This article is not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission from the author.