Quality control is an essential part of any construction project. It helps to ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the highest quality standards. It also helps to prevent costly problems from occurring down the road and to protect the public by ensuring that buildings and other structures are safe and reliable.
In this blog, we will explore the essential elements of quality control in construction and provide you with a practical checklist to help you implement an effective quality control process.
What is quality control in construction?
Quality control (QC) in construction is the process of ensuring that a project meets its specified requirements. This includes ensuring that the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the highest quality standards.
The importance of quality control in construction
QC is important for several reasons. First, it helps to ensure that the project meets the needs of the client. Second, it helps to prevent costly problems from occurring down the road. Third, it helps to protect the public by ensuring that buildings and other structures are safe and reliable.
Here are some of the specific benefits of quality control in construction:
- Increased customer satisfaction: It helps to ensure that the project is completed to the client's satisfaction. This leads to increased customer loyalty and repeat business.
- Reduced costs: It helps to prevent costly problems from occurring down the road. This includes problems such as rework, repairs, and even lawsuits.
- Improved safety: It helps to ensure that buildings and other structures are safe and reliable. This protects the public from accidents and injuries.
- Reduced environmental impact: It helps to reduce the environmental impact of construction projects. This is done by ensuring that materials are used efficiently and that waste is minimized.
Who is responsible for quality control in construction?
Quality control in construction is the responsibility of everyone involved in the project, from the project manager to the subcontractors. However, the project manager is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the project meets the client's quality standards.
A top-to-bottom commitment is required for quality. A construction project will not achieve the required quality standards if individual workers are not committed to producing a quality product. At the same time, even if the workers are committed and well-trained, the project will not achieve the desired quality if the supervisors, superintendents, quality engineers, and the project or construction manager aren’t committed to producing a quality product.
All workers and staff must take responsibility for producing the best quality product possible.
In some cases, the project manager is responsible for overseeing the entire construction project, including quality control. They coordinate the efforts of all parties involved and ensure that the project adheres to quality standards, stays on schedule, and remains within budget.
The contractors are responsible for executing the construction project according to the approved plans and specifications. Their responsibilities include managing subcontractors, scheduling work, procuring materials, and overseeing all construction activities. The general contractor must ensure that work is carried out in compliance with quality standards and that any deficiencies are addressed promptly.
The client sets the quality standards and expectations for the construction project. They hire a team of professionals to develop design specifications that meet their requirements. The owner also has the responsibility to review and approve project plans, specifications, and materials, ensuring they align with their vision for the project.
How to ensure quality control in construction
Quality control procedures in construction are essential processes and practices implemented to ensure that a construction project meets the required quality standards, specifications, and safety regulations. These procedures help minimize defects, ensure structural integrity, and achieve client satisfaction. Here are some common quality control procedures in construction:
1. Start with the right workers
It’s no secret that the construction industry and trades are experiencing a labor shortage. Research found that skilled trade workers are difficult to find.
91 Percent of Construction Firms Have a Hard Time Finding Workers to Hire, Driving Up Costs and Project Delays
Associated General Contractors of America
Carpenters, concrete workers, pipelayers, sheet metal, and iron workers were among the most difficult to find but nearly all categories were at or above 50 percent of contractors unable to find quality skilled workers.
When starting your project, make sure you have the most qualified players on your teams. Assign the right people to the right jobs and ensure your supervisors or foremen are clear on the quality expectations. Give them authority to manage their crews as needed to adhere to those expectations.
Ensure that the construction team understands the project quality requirements. This begins when workers start on the project, where they should first attend a project induction. Apart from safety, this induction is a time to explain that poor quality won’t be accepted or tolerated. High-quality standards should be set from the start of the project. Workers must be encouraged to take pride in their work.
2. Invest in technology
Research by KPMG found that technology will be key to success for the construction industry in the future. They identified three segments of the construction industry when it comes to technology:
- Top 20 percent: Innovative leaders
- Middle 60 percent: Followers
- Bottom 20 percent: Behind the curve
In their survey, KPMG found the need for those to adopt technology in the bottom 20 percent of adopting technology “is considerably more urgent, if not existential.”
For some construction companies, doing this may seem intimidating or even impossible. Some of the common reasons we see are fear of how to convince their workforce to get on board and concern about it being difficult to adopt, among other reasons.
However, technology doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of your processes. Rather, you can ease into it with a simple construction software with a time-tracking solution that simplifies payroll and scheduling, for example, and then gradually increases to include job management in construction, GPS tracking, and reporting.
The most important thing is to invest in a technology that has five-star customer support so you’re not left hanging when you have questions or need help. The right company will understand construction needs that are unique from other industries.
3. Use the right materials
Once you have your contract and understand what your customer expects, make sure you don’t compromise on materials. Check that all materials incorporated into the structures and buildings meet the quality requirements and the project specifications. Ensure that you order materials of the correct specifications.
For example, make sure your electrician knows what type of Romex to bring for the specific job they’re doing. Check the materials when they arrive to ensure that they aren’t damaged and that they’re of the correct specification.
Reject items that are damaged or aren’t correct and advise the supplier immediately, then mark the items clearly as being non-compliant so they aren’t accidentally used.
4. Ensure safety and compliance
Not only do proper safety and compliance policies keep your workers safe, but they also prevent inadequate work or improper work from being done on your project. For example, a tired worker is more likely to take a shortcut here and there - or even forget something entirely - so use a reliable time-tracking method to ensure they take the required breaks and don’t do too much overtime.
5. Check and check again
The old saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” can’t apply to owner/managers on-site, all the time. You have your hands full with tons of other things to do from paperwork to new job estimates.
Sure your supers or foremen understand what’s expected but if you’re not there to check on each stage, you may end up with construction deficiencies that will need even more work in the next year or two.
That means it’s worth it to check in now and again to make sure everything is the way it should be and address issues that might have slipped through the cracks.
Keep communication in mind, as well. Managing subcontractors is a major challenge, so having proper communication will help a ton. Make sure you've sent the correct needs and specifications to your sub(s).
For example, if your framing team sets the joists at a certain measurement, the plumbing contractor would need to know so they can provide the correct mounts for drains that run under the house. You wouldn't want them to show up with the incorrect materials and be forced to delay the project.
6. Protect completed work
It’s the bane of a contractor’s existence: Weather. But things happen and we can’t control it. Even careless subcontractors can cause damage to finished surfaces.
Where possible surfaces that can easily be scratched or damaged should be covered by timber, cardboard, or other materials until the work is complete. Some products arrive in plastic wrappings and these wrappings should be left in place until the section is ready for handover.
7. Avoid scope creep
Even some of the industry’s largest companies can get swept away by scope creep. When your client makes change after change before you know it, the scope of the project has ballooned to an unreasonable level and you have workers cutting corners and using lower-quality materials. Talk with all of the stakeholders about the scope and make sure everyone is on board.
It’s important to understand the client’s quality standards and specifications. These standards should usually be clearly stated in the construction document and the project specifications and construction drawings.
If in doubt, ask questions.
8. Audit and test
From time to time, tests must be done as part of the contractor’s quality management plan, or as part of the project’s or the client’s quality management plan. These tests are to ensure that items or structures have been constructed correctly. Sometimes tests fail. This means that the work must be redone.
What’s important is to designate the right people to the right quality control so you don’t have a confusing workflow that has the wrong people auditing the wrong things at the wrong times. Reports become lost, tests get ignored, and work remains substandard.
9. Repair deficiencies immediately
As mentioned with testing and auditing, make sure you have a concrete policy to address deficiencies whether it be level of craftsmanship or inadequate materials. If left too long, deficiencies will become ignored and result in more work later on.
10. Have supplier and vendor expectations from the start
One of the main causes of projects running over time is the reliable delivery of supplies and materials. Make sure you work with vendors and suppliers you are familiar with and who have a good reputation.
Make sure before proceeding with them, that they will be able to fulfill the needs you’ll have for your project, to the end.
While some things can’t be controlled, there should be a process in place for what to do in the event of a delay and your vendors and suppliers should be able to clearly understand what is expected.
ClockShark’s role in quality control
ClockShark can help improve quality control by fostering a culture of accountability and transparency. When employees know that their time and activities are being tracked, they are more likely to be mindful of their work and to take steps to ensure that they are meeting the required standards.
Time tracking: ClockShark can be used to track employee time spent on different tasks, such as site preparation, construction, and cleanup. The clock-out questions feature allows you to get important information from your team in the field when they clock out, and receive timely notifications of unexpected responses. This data can be used to ensure that projects are on schedule and that the work is being completed to a high standard.
Scheduling: ClockShark allows employers to create and manage schedules for their teams. This can help to ensure that the right people are on the job at the right time and that there are enough resources available to complete tasks to a high standard.
Reporting: ClockShark provides a variety of reports that can be used to track employee performance and identify areas for improvement. For example, employers can use reports to see how long employees are spending on each task, how often they are taking breaks, and whether they are meeting deadlines.
Save Time and Money with ClockShark
Quality control is essential for any construction project, regardless of size or complexity. By following the tips and checklist in this article, you can help ensure your project is completed to the highest standards and that it meets the expectations of all involved parties.
It is not just about avoiding problems, but also about ensuring that your project is completed on time and on budget. When things are done right the first time, there is less need for rework and costly delays.
By tracking the crew’s time and activities, creating and managing schedules, and providing detailed reports, ClockShark can help employers identify areas for improvement and ensure that their employees are meeting the required standards. Sign up for a free trial now and see what ClockShark can do for your business.