What is quality
Quality is some sort of a multidimensional aspect. As the perception changes so is the way quality will be seen for different people. There is no universally accepted definition on quality as a reference. sometimes objective and sometimes subjective. The best one today can find a challenge with even better-quality definition on the next day.
So, let’s talk about the quality of civil construction primarily as this qualityandconstruction.com is an exclusive place for civil engineers and for others those who are involved with civil construction. Assuming a scenario from some real-life incidents – if not for all but at least for few people out in the universe for sure – may make it simple for knowing the importance of Quality during construction works. Everyone has a dream of having an own home even at the cost of life long earning and savings. Many lucky ones materialize that dream and owns one.
A real life scenario of bad quality
Imagine one fine day while enjoys a monsoon, water droplets are falling on your head, or in the dining table or on another day when one wants to go for an urgent work suddenly experiencing chocking of water lines in a recently owned home. Both the cases frustrate everyone. And what could have been reason for these, in layman’s language the “quality of building is bad” or in simple terms it must be because the ‘’construction of the building failed to meet the standard’’ that it would otherwise have to or in technical terms a proper “quality system to supervise or monitor the works has been absent” from the contractor while the works being executed.
The roof slab leak maybe due to substandard quality of material (Concrete) used, or due to the incompetent supervision or may be the combination of both. The second case of problems in the pipelines may be because of untested/un-commissioned plumbing works of the buildings before it handed over for use. All of this points to the importance of Quality control and Quality Assurance while the construction is in progress.
The problems related to Quality Control in construction is not limited to these two cases only. As there are several activities in civil construction or any construction the probability too is high unless the quality of these works is not monitored, supervised with a plan in place.
The difficulties to face for substandard quality
Rectifying such damages on buildings are much more complex than making the original structure in its first place, be it any type of construction let alone civil but other trades like mechanical, electrical, firefighting, telecommunication etc. Apart from the hardships on the corrective actions it ultimately cost more money and time which are the most two critical components of all projects in across the globe.
Quality is not vague or subjective, judgement and opinion have no part in the measuring of and determining of quality. The words like “high quality”, “smooth” or even “satisfactory” do more to confuse all those involved than clarify what is required. Consider it is specified as flat or reasonably vertical, it does not categorize as a quality criteria and the requirement cannot be met. without reasonable interpretation and impossible to evaluate the actual performance. But instead it should be stated like “a tolerance +/- 3mm for 6m is allowed for vertical measurements.
Impacts of substandard quality in construction
So, it is easy to realize now that quality control and quality assurance remains as the top priority in construction. If not, then WHY IT SHOULD’NT BE? There could be many attributes which are direct and sometimes indirect that could have the possibility of bearing the brunt due to the degree of. Some of them are,
Any rework on an already completed item, arising out of non-conformance against the approved details, specifications and/contractual requirements result in extremely time-consuming activity for the project. Depends on the nature and severity of defects it may adversely affect the programmed schedule by forcing the contractor to put in extra resources or diverting the manpower, equipment, supervision etc from other works.
A self-explanatory term for what happens when facing with quality issues in construction sites. Any work associated with corrective actions or in simple terms any defect rectification on a completed work is additional which involves resources such as manpower, materials, equipment, machinery depends on the type, location, and size of defects. It may minor to major one and in some cases resulting into the only option of demolishing. It is obvious that one need to pay a price for any lapses in quality during construction
A service or a product that comes with quality always gets a thumbs up from its users creating confidence on them. And the opposite will happen if it is of bad quality. Imagine a hotel serving quality food with some showing the best hospitality by the people serving the items. Once the customers experience it, they tend to visit the same hotel again and may even recommend the hotel to others. And it is quite natural if it goes in the other way, serving bad quality food. This case in point proves that quality can be relate to reputation also, the same will be applicable to construction industry too. Providing quality homes make a brand reputed and famous even through a mouth to mouth publicity from the ones who using it.
One may wonder how quality and safety are interconnected. But it is so. A safety incident can happen because of bad quality workmanship. An insecurely/improperly fixed panels without sufficient pins or locking can fall off from its position causing injuries. Though it considered as a safety incident but in reality, happened due to a quality issue. In construction works there are plenty of such chances where substandard quality of works can indirectly becomes hazardous too.
Confidence level of work force:
In addition to these, the rework or rectification of an already completed items can affect the morale of workforce when their hard work at the end of the day being unacceptable due to something that gone wrong.
Additional materials due to the rework or damages/demolitions may have an impact on environment aspect too such as disposing of demolished concrete of structures, discarding of extra plywood on reworks etc.
These are never been a complete list. Impact of having substandard quality of work may have far reaching consequences that may affect even the financial stability of the organizations. The cost of the name that the company have already carved out in the public may lose its value if the situation continues with such issues.
A Final Sign off on Quality in Construction
So, to conclude how could one define quality. as per ISO 8402:1994 “Quality management and quality assurance — Vocabulary”
“The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.” .
For the construction industry quality can be termed as “completion of the project within the scheduled time frame within the allocated budget meeting the prescribed standards, guidelines and obligations based on the contract which project has been agreed upon between the parties. On a broader perspective based on the growth of this industry and the competition to stay relevant in terms of being a reputable company delivering the projects with excellence could well be the motto too.
RELATED READING: QUALITY IN INDIAN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY – AN OVERVIEW
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