How to Boost Quality Control on Any Construction Project
Quality doesn’t happen by accident. If you want a high-quality end product, you need to plan for it from the beginning. And that means having a written quality control plan you can share with the client.
It can be a struggle to make sure all the players on a construction project — employees, subcontractors, materials suppliers — are doing their part to deliver the quality the client expects. Some players may cut corners without you knowing it; others may lack awareness of exactly what the standards are. That’s where a QC plan comes into play.
It should spell out the expectations across each category of work and outline the inspections that will happen to ensure materials and workmanship make the grade.
A good plan should be project specific and:
Start with the project specifications. Most of the quality standards for a project can be gleaned from the specifications, which should tell you what the owner is expecting in the way of materials and finished product. If the specifications don't include applicable building codes or testing standards (e.g. ANSI), add those and make sure the information gets to the appropriate sub or supplier.
Designate a quality control manager. The plan should put one person in charge of quality control and outline that person’s roles and responsibilities. Even though superintendents drive production, the designated quality control manager will have the ultimate responsibility of ensuring all the work and materials are up to standard.
Incorporate a subcontractor and supplier qualification procedure. Especially if you’ll be working with new subcontractors or suppliers, outline the procedure you’ll use for choosing them, including reference and license checks. If you’ve already chosen them, write down their qualifications. Subcontractors and suppliers should have recent, relevant experience. A plumbing contractor might have a great track record with multifamily projects, for example, but that doesn’t mean it's ready to make the leap to a manufacturing facility. A subcontractor that has successfully completed recent similar projects is also more likely to be up to speed on the latest processes and technology.
Include an inspection schedule. Using the job schedule as a guide, list all the standard inspections that will be carried out during the project and make sure all relevant subcontractors and suppliers know to be ready when their turns come. This could include concrete sampling and strength tests, framing and drywall screw inspections, HVAC duct pressure tests or any other work that must be evaluated before moving on.
Include a procedure for handling errors. Mistakes happen. The plan should outline how they’ll be handled. For instance, employees, subcontractors and suppliers should notify the quality control manager immediately of any errors or issues that could affect the job's progress or quality. The quality control manager might check previous work for similar errors. And the client should be notified if the problem affects the schedule or other aspects of the project.
A company’s reputation is one of its most valuable assets. A good quality control plan can help even the most experienced contractors keep quality issues to a minimum.
Kim Slowey is a writer who has been active in the construction industry for 25 years and is licensed as a certified general contractor in Florida. She received her BA in Mass Communications/Journalism from the University of South Florida and has experience in both commercial and residential construction.