Managing a construction project is a complex and stressful process. Among other things, you have to coordinate project team members, materials, and equipment and ensure that contractors are not afflicted by the potential risks and hazards present at the construction site.
That said, quality means different things to different people, which is why you should adhere to construction quality control standards. If your project fails to meet the quality acceptance standards, you’ll not only get on the wrong side with your stakeholders, but you might also face lawsuits. In this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about quality control inspections in construction.
What Is Quality Control in Construction?
Quality control in construction refers to a management process aimed at ensuring that the final deliverable meets the standards and guidelines set by the client. This includes avoiding disputes throughout the life cycle of the project and completing the project within the scope of the work.
Typically, quality is defined by regulatory agencies, the client, and environmental and policy guidelines. These assurance procedures and requirements are documented in a construction quality management plan.
Quality control in construction has two aspects: quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA). Quality assurance outlines the quality management targets and how quality will be attained, and quality control is the roadmap to achieving it.
Types of Quality Control
Quality control in construction is not a function of any single individual or department. It is the primary responsibility of the supervisor or construction manager to turn out work of acceptable standards.
There are three main types of quality control. They include:
- Offline quality control: This process deals with measures of selecting process parameters and controllable products in such a way that the deviation between the product or process output and the standardized will be minimized.
- Statistical process control: It involves comparing the output of a construction process or service with a given standard and taking remedial actions in the event that there’s a discrepancy between the two. Statistical process control also involves determining whether a process can bring forth an outcome that meets the desired requirements or specifications.
- Acceptance sampling plans: This plan determines the number of items that will be sampled and the acceptance criteria based on set specific stipulated conditions.
Construction Quality Control Procedures
How do you attain first-time quality? Think of the construction process as a closed-loop system where deficiencies are discovered, handled, accepted, and closed using the following procedures:
1. Definition and sharing of acceptance criteria
It is essential that you ensure that subcontractors, superintendents, and crews are on the same page about what qualifies as an acceptable result. When all participants of the project understand what their goals are, they are in a better position to get it right the first time.
Among the standards that can be incorporated into the acceptance criteria include:
- Industry common practices
- Quality standards specific to the project
- No visible defects
2. Creation of an inspection plan
The construction inspection process lets you determine whether a given task was completed to the specifications. The construction team needs to know what will be inspected, when the inspection will occur, and who will be conducting the inspections.
The construction process requires several inspections. Establishing a plan in advance enables you to identify all the necessary inspections and ascertain that they have been completed through a record of acceptance.
3. Use a checklist to undertake the inspections
Quality inspection checklists will help you stay organized and ensure that all essential items are verified. Nonetheless, not all checklists are equally effective.
One common issue with the checklists is that checkpoints are usually vague. This makes the inspection open to interpretation and inconsistency. Additionally, most checklists are simple binary complete/incomplete or yes/no, which isn’t enough to accurately measure the quality of a project.
Among the benefits of using a checklist is that it can be shared among team members before the project begins and prior to each construction task to communicate essential requirements. While they are not the same as specs, they outline the processes that need to be done right.
4. Correcting deficiencies and verifying acceptance criteria
While clients may not consciously realize the when and the order of construction deficiencies that have been identified through the inspection process, crews and subcontractors must correct them. This process entails:
- Physically marking an area or issue to prevent a cover-up
- Taking a picture to clearly identify the problem and show how it is marked in the field
- Remedy the issue
- Document the correction
5. Prevention of future deficiencies
This is the final step that closes the loop. Here, you need to learn why the deficiency occurred and make adjustments to the quality control process so that it doesn’t happen again. Ensure that the item is incorporated into the acceptance criteria and communicated to all parties. Success is when you don’t experience an issue again—this means you are closer to attaining first-time quality with zero deficiencies.
What Causes Quality Control Issues?
Quality is of vital importance in the construction business. It can make or break the reputation of a construction company. Despite there being construction quality models and methodologies, most companies still struggle to produce work that meets quality standards. But what exactly contributes to the poor quality? Here is an outline of the common causes of quality control issues:
- Labor shortage
- Lack of skills/training
- Unqualified personnel
- Lack of motivation
- People taking shortcuts
- Defective materials
- Low-grade materials
- Unspecified material
- Variation of construction materials
- Lack of maintenance
- Improper calibration/set up
- Outdated technology
- Wear and tear and lack of spares
- Failure to follow the set procedures
- Conflicting construction requirements
- Failure to communicate procedures clearly
- Too relaxed or too rigid requirements
- Incomplete product specifications
- Poor/inadequate planning
- Lack of supervision
- Failure to use fact-based decision making
- Unrealistic work schedules
- Poor communication of procedures
- Failure to provide adequate construction tools.
How to Ensure Quality in Construction
Here is an outline of some of the things you should do to ensure quality in your construction project:
- Start with the right workers: When starting a project, ensure that you have the most qualified workers on your team. Assign jobs based on the capabilities of your team members and ensure that you are clear on the quality expectations.
- Invest in the right technology: Investing in technology doesn’t necessarily mean overhauling your entire process. The critical thing is to invest in technologies that have five-star customer support so that you aren’t left hanging when you need help.
- Use the right materials: Once you’ve been awarded a contract, understand your client’s expectations and ensure that you don’t compromise on materials. Ensure that all materials used in the project meet the quality standards and project specifications.
- Ensure safety and compliance: Proper safety and compliance will keep your workers safe and help you prevent inadequate work from being done on the project.
- Avoid scope creep: It is crucial to understand the client’s quality standards and specifications. These standards should be stated clearly in the construction document and the construction drawings and project specifications.
- Repair deficiencies immediately: Ensure that you establish concrete policies for addressing deficiencies, whether it is inadequate materials or level of craftsmanship.
- Protect completed work: Where possible, surfaces that can easily get damaged should be covered until the project is complete.
Importance of Quality Control Inspections
Construction quality control inspections carry a lot of weight both for the workers and project managers. These inspections are essential in ensuring that the project runs efficiently and safely. Below is an outline of some of the benefits of quality control inspections:
- The project is completed on time: When a construction doesn’t meet the standards, you will be forced to rework it to attain those standards. This can result in delays in the project. Quality control inspections help ensure that each stage of the construction process meets construction policies and guidelines.
- Hazard identification: As a project manager, the safety of your workers should be your number one concern. Quality control inspections help you identify potential hazards that could harm your workers so that you can take precautions to ensure that your workers are safe.
- Improved construction quality: To maintain high standards, you need to understand where you’re lacking. Performing quality control inspections throughout the project will ensure that you adhere to existing regulations and codes.
- Encourages environment-friendly construction sites: As a project manager, part of your role is monitoring the environmental impact your project has on the surrounding land, wildlife, lakes, and streams. There are detailed policies for a construction site, and an inspection can help you heed them.
Benefits of Using Software for Quality Control Inspections
Quality inspection software is an app-based solution that facilitates quality inspection. It is commonly used on tablets and smartphones. This software helps quality inspectors schedule quality inspections, evaluate workloads, input product information, remit information to stakeholders, and share results with project managers on time.
Some of the benefits of using this software when conducting quality control inspections include:
- Reduction in mistakes: It ensures that work is executed methodically, thereby reducing the chances of errors.
- Reduction in paperwork: This software stores data in one place; you won’t have to duplicate files and lose data as you would with manual inspections.
- Real-time reporting: This ensures that you can make decisions much more quickly.
- Mobile-friendly: With inspection software, inspectors need not conduct inspection on paper and transfer information over later. Instead, they can use a smartphone or tablet to perform the inspections and have the information stored in the cloud.
- Improved communication: Inspection software eliminates communication gaps by enabling you to transmit information to multiple project parties and stakeholders for a greater level of transparency and visibility.
Get Started With GoCanvas
Are you looking for an easy to use software that can help streamline the operations of your construction company? Then GoCanvas has you covered. Try out our platform and all its features with a free trial, or contact our team to learn more.