Last edited 29 Oct 2020

Quality in construction projects


[edit] Brief

Construction projects are a balance between cost, time and quality. It is possible to have high quality and low cost, but at the expense of time, and conversely to have high quality and a fast project, but at a cost. If both time and money are restricted, then quality is likely to suffer. High quality is not always the primary objective for the client; time or cost may be more important. It is only realistic to specify a very high standard of quality if the budget and time is available to achieve that standard.

When defining objectives for quality the client should consider:

Quality has been defined by many academics as delivering a customers service or product without a defect being present (Juran 1999). As such, it is vitally important that briefing documents set out clearly the product specifications that are required. Specific standards of quality can generally be defined, prioritised and measured quite precisely, and criteria weighting can help in the appraisal of design options, in particular where conflicting views exist amongst stakeholders.

See Briefing documentation and Design quality for more information.

The standard of quality that the design team try to achieve should reflect the requirements set out by the client in the briefing documentation. The client should then be able to assess design options that are proposed in relation to the criteria they have already defined.

Aspects of a design that might be assessed could include:

It is important that assessment of design quality is carried out in a structured, formal way, and is properly recorded. The client may appoint an internal design champion to be responsible for ensuring the design achieves the required design quality. If the client has little experience of design and construction projects, they may wish to appoint an independent client adviser to assist them.

The client may also have to consult third parties during the design process, such as the local planning authority, who may have a view about the quality of the proposals. The National Planning Policy framework suggests that plan making and decision taking should seek and secure high quality.

See Design quality for more information.

[edit] Contract documentation

The contract documentation describes the design that the contractor is being paid to construct. It will include a specification describing the materials and workmanship required.

Aspects of the works are generally specified by:

It should be possible to verify standards of products and workmanship by testing, inspection, mock-ups and samples, and documentation such as manufacturers certificates. These requirements need to be set out in the contract documentation.

[edit] Construction

The contractor’s obligation is to carry out and complete the works in a proper and workmanlike manner as described by the contract documents. This means the contractor must carry out the works with reasonable skill and care, to the reasonable satisfaction of the contract administrator.

The quality of materials and standard of workmanship might be controlled by the contractor on site by implementing a quality plan. The plan establishes the resources required and associated documents (lists, purchasing documentation, machinery, equipment, etc.) and the control activities (verification of compliance with specifications, validation of specific processes, monitoring of activities, inspections and tests). These activities can be defined through inspection, testing plans, action plans and where applicable specific tests (for example, load tests for structures). See Quality control for more information.

Workmanship has come under particular scrutiny recently as building regulations have become more onerous and the standard of specification has increased. It has also become more common to test completed buildings to assess whether they are performing as expected. Poor workmanship can be particularly apparent with issues such as sound proofing, insulation performance and air-tightness. This difference between anticipated and actual performance is known as the performance gap.

The standard of workmanship can be improved by providing adequate training, appropriate instructions and clear checklists as well as ensuring there is on-site supervision and monitoring and an ongoing process of feedback to ensure continuous improvement.

In addition to the contractor’s own quality control measures, site inspectors working on behalf of the client will inspect the works as they proceed to verify compliance with the requirements of the contract documents. Site inspectors may be based on site permanently or may make regular visits. Specific inspections may also be carried out during the construction phase as part of the general contract administration process.

In addition, there may a range of third party inspections, including:

See site inspection for more information.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references


Quality is one of the most crucial aspects of construction project management because it has a far-reaching impact on client satisfaction and business reputation. So project managers should go the extra mile to ensure it for every single project they work on. While having some smart strategies in place can help, investing in a construction management software solution has you fully covered.

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