As a contractor, you have a responsibility to produce a high-quality product that meets the expectations of your customers and will last for the long term. But if your project fails to meet certain standards and property is damaged or people are injured as a result, you could face a construction defect claim. Construction defects can have extensive ramifications, including legal costs to defend a claim, rework to correct the problem, and damage to your reputation.
Therefore, it’s important to put a quality control program in place to help you maintain high standards on all your projects and reduce the likelihood of construction defects and related claims. A quality control program should not only work to correct problems along the way, it should also examine root causes of issues as they occur. Doing so will help ensure the same mistake is not repeated. When creating your quality control program, there are two important elements to include: collaboration and continuity.
1. Strong collaboration and teamwork
Construction projects often need the expertise of multiple stakeholders in order to be successful, so it’s critical to create an atmosphere of trust, understanding, and collaboration among all parties from the start. Key actions to take include:
- Developing a site-specific written quality control policy: This allows everyone involved in the project to set expectations, outline responsibilities, and align goals.
- Forming a quality control committee: Doing so will give stakeholders a sense of ownership over the program. Be sure to include representatives from each project team.
- Conducting preconstruction meetings: These meetings offer an opportunity to address potential problems before they occur and can help provide clarity on issues that may arise.
2. Continuous improvement and control
In order to achieve the high-quality product your customers expect, it’s important to continually check on different project variables. Therefore, your quality control program should include specific practices throughout the course of work.
Before work starts:
- Constructability reviews: These help anticipate and mitigate problems in the field with the goal of achieving the designer’s intent.
- Prework site assessment: These evaluations verify that the jobsite conditions match the original specs, therefore helping ensure that the work can be performed as planned.
- Performance mock-ups: By performing these, you help all parties to visualize certain aspects of the project (such as windows and walls) and anticipate any potential issues before installation.
Throughout the project:
- Inspections: Conducting regular inspections by qualified individuals will help assess the quality of the workmanship and identify errors so that they can be corrected before they lead to larger problems. Be sure to take photos of completed work.
- Change-order process: This establishes a clear process for documenting all specification changes and obtaining owner approval to help prevent claims.
- Material acceptance: Inspecting materials whenever they are received helps ensure only approved materials are installed.
- Approvals and verifications: Obtaining formal owner verification and approval of workmanship through a third-party inspector or manufacturers will verify proper installation.
Investing the time and resources to develop and implement a quality control program is well worth the effort. Not only can it help improve the quality of your projects, it can contribute to overall safety and help protect your business from construction defect claims and related costs.