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Craig Matthews


Three Ways Quality Affects Reliable Outcomes in Construction Projects

And how to get a job done right

Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2023 - 13:02

Producing quality work is imperative in every field, particularly in the construction industry. A well-built structure, whether it’s an educational facility, hospital, or a commercial establishment, provides shelter, safety, and stability, which is why quality should always be a top priority. As soon as a construction project begins, it’s every project team’s intention to provide quality services. An established quality plan in construction that uses lean principles leads to more reliable outcomes.

Various obstacles can occur at any time during a project, especially in the planning and construction phases, causing disruptions in plans. These types of interference can lead to unforeseen delays, expensive rework, and long-term ramifications for the client if quality issues compromise building integrity. In fact, a study conducted by Frontiers in Engineering and Built Environment discovered that poor quality can increase the cost of a building by more than 50 percent and can cause up to 50 percent of project delays. 

When a construction team is fully committed to delivering the highest quality work, the results speak for themselves. To accomplish the project goals, quality must be the key focus of every phase of construction. 

Here are a few reasons why quality improvement is crucial throughout the entire construction process, ensuring a successful opening day. 

Quality control must be spotlighted from the start 

Quality in construction translates to projects being finished within the guidelines established by the scope of work. This involves finishing the project on time and within budget. And when either of these elements goes awry, quality is unwisely sacrificed.  

During the preconstruction phase, and before onsite construction work even begins, it’s important to set expectations for quality work. The preconstruction phase encompasses many factors, including estimating and planning as well as design review for constructability and value engineering opportunities. 

It’s essential for each project team member to be invested in identifying and resolving potential issues before the first shovel hits the ground. This starts early in the process by reviewing the design and engaging early trade partners. Engaging trade partners during the preconstruction phase is an effective way to accurately assess potential value engineering opportunities, identify and resolve constructability issues, and establish where an increased focus on quality is necessary.  

Establishing specific areas of quality focus during the preconstruction phase is critical. For example, imagine the building design includes a new concept for the exterior facade that requires new or uncommon building techniques, or the building will house equipment that requires atypical building assemblies to eliminate disturbances like noise and vibration, or harmful emissions such as radiation. Identifying uncommon conditions early on and developing the steps and measures necessary to ensure a reliable final product will have a positive effect on the result. 

In the past, it was typical for contractors to be brought on after the design was completed, with an expectation that the construction phase was ready to kick off. However, this resulted in unintended roadblocks, as conflict and constructability concerns were not fully addressed and ultimately led to scheduling delays. 

Today, a variety of building information modeling (BIM) platforms can analyze designs using three-dimensional (3D) models. The 3D modeling software provides greater visibility of conflicts than two-dimensional (2D) analysis with drawing overlays. Time has proven that 3D modeling enhances efficiency and creates reliable outcomes. Using this quality tool maximizes productivity while reducing risk and waste.  

Productive construction sites create less waste 

Responsible management and prevention of waste are fundamental aspects of construction. Construction waste elimination can be organized into seven areas: overproduction, waiting, overprocessing, inventory, transportation, movement, and defects. By using a project planning process that follows lean principles, these wastes are analyzed throughout the project planning and execution processes. 

Defects are the waste most directly correlated with quality. The waste comes from the rework and schedule delays required. Defects within building envelope systems may affect energy efficiency, moisture resistance, and durability. Inadequate building envelopes can often be a result of improperly installed windows, weather barriers, and roofs. 

To mitigate these types of defects, it’s crucial for construction teams to define a quality plan for each feature of work during the preconstruction phase. A quality plan should outline requirements for detailed submittal reviews, pre-installation meetings, and testing and inspections. 

Throughout this early project phase, promoting a culture of continuous improvement and constructability analysis allows construction teams to make sure the design team and subcontractors are involved and collaborating efficiently to maintain the highest standards of quality.  

The project site is a quality powerhouse 

Focusing on quality yields fewer unanticipated issues and problems throughout construction while also conserving overall costs and time. As plans are set in place and crews arrive onsite, quality becomes even more essential to ensure safety and efficiency.

Once the work is ready to begin, the next major aspect of the quality process includes the pre-installation meeting, which typically begins a few weeks prior to starting a feature of work.  

As part of this process, various steps are taken with the trade partners to discuss concerns affecting quality, finalize production sequencing, and review safety procedures—just to name a few. For instance, when meeting for upcoming floor work, quality concerns regarding moisture mitigation, adhesion, leveling, and pattern run are discussed. To wrap up, the scope of the initial inspection is defined for the first work in place review. 

Initial inspections, which include physical examination of required materials and verifying work in place complies with the project requirements, are crucial to ensure reliable outcomes. The work should be examined in its infancy to identify possible nonconformities and establish a working standard. As the work progresses, it is routinely verified throughout the project. 

It’s important for the team and subcontractors to act as quality ambassadors who continually strive for exceptional quality. This means immediately calling out issues that need to be resolved. Having strong, trusting relationships with trade partners establishes a project environment in which concerns are constructively analyzed to ensure that, together, the best product is generated. 

A focus on quality leads to a job well done 

As construction work nears completion, a series of final inspections are done to ensure all aspects of the work conform to the highest quality workmanship standards. Consistent verification throughout the project’s life cycle sets the stage for a smooth completion.  

Gone are the days of endless punch lists and last-minute rework. A final walk-through with the project and client teams ensures the finishing touches are in place and full satisfaction is delivered with every aspect of the project. Today, more than ever, the construction industry’s most important considerations for every project are safety and quality. Together, they play significant roles in the final product and client satisfaction. 

In the end, a construction project isn’t considered a success if the client isn’t fully satisfied. In other words, quality is fundamental—it increases and solidifies client satisfaction. A happy client will likely work with you again, and possibly refer your team to others.


About The Author

Craig Matthews’s picture

Craig Matthews

Craig Matthews is a quality control manager at Riley Construction headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin.