Factors That Determine Quality In Construction
Construction (houses/commercial structures) is an important yet stressful job. Do you remember your childhood? All those sandcastles built with sand and how they struggled to stand erect when a little wind blew past?
Construction goes beyond the location, the structural design, or the paint on the walls. A building is just the right amount of blocks, cement, iron, and sand used to make it strong and functional. That is quality—the degree of excellence of your building.
In this article, we will show you what factors determine quality. And also what the fuss about quality in construction is all about.
What is Quality in Construction?
Quality in construction means reaching an acceptable performance level in building construction-related activities. High-level of performance is reached not only when your project meets the requirement but also exceeds your client/owner(s) expectations.
Furthermore, the quality of your product/service is obtained when it meets the required specifications. Construction projects and quality are without a doubt inseparable. It is regarded as a fulfillment of expectations.
“Quality in construction means the completion of a project within the defined guidelines/specifications listed in the Scope of Work.”
Scope of Work
Scope of Work is a document containing a set of guidelines for the building project. These guidelines are designed based on the owner’s expectations too—standards. Also, it outlines how the project should be executed to meet the set standards. As a matter of fact, the Scope of Work is simply a roadmap. Think of it as a map that points out the path to obtaining a high level of construction quality.
Again, obtaining quality in construction is a recurring phenomenon in building and construction. When you skimp on quality management procedures, the results would be a loss in human resources, construction materials, time & money.
For example: on a construction site, the contractor could specify a particular type of beam. The construction worker will then use the type of beam to reinforce the building.
Quality Assurance (QA) in Building Construction
Quality Assurances is procedures & rules in construction that help to avoid grave mistakes. Similarly, these procedures help you consistently maintain the standard/quality of work. Again, quality assurance is a process to be adhered to, resulting in quality requirements fulfillment. That’s a mouthful, I know! Simplified:
“Quality Assurance are processes that ensure the end result of your project matches the specifics made in the planning stage.”
Every company should have a quality assurance chart. The chart would specify the various checks for quality at different levels.
Quality Control (QC) in Building Construction
Quality control is the periodic inspection of the entire construction activities to maintain or improve them. QC includes inspection of facilities and work-in-progress, ensuring they meet the desired standard as defined by the contract. Quality Control is carried out by the QC teams. Of course, they are either engineers or specialists.
“Quality control is the process of fixing standards or tests to help you ensure your construction activities are done correctly.”
The best way to understand the difference is that; quality control deals with the end product, whereas quality assurance ensures the processes are implemented correctly.
Elements of Quality
To know what factors determine quality in construction, you have to know the basic elements of quality. Here are three basic elements of quality in construction:
- Quality of features
- Quality of design
- Quality of compliance
1. Quality of Features
Quality of features pertains to the parameters by which quality control processes are judged. Furthermore, the quality of features includes project strengths, textures, design colors, and dimensions.
2. Quality of Design
Quality of design applies to the caliber of the design that is to be carried out. It relates to how the design meets the standard requirement. It ticks all the design boxes, like functionality, maintenance, economics, etc.
3. Quality of Compliance
Quality of compliance refers to the extent to which the constructed project complies with specifications in the scope of work. In like manner, quality of compliance is ensured through inspection.
Now that you have seen what quality in construction is, let me also show you the factors that determine it.
Factors that determine quality in construction
There are a couple of factors that determine quality in building construction. Not to mention that these factors could either inhibit or promote quality—keep this in mind.
- Project Requirements.
The requirements of a construction project are one underlying factor that determines quality in construction.
Project requirements are the necessary stipulations or tasks that should be completed so as to ensure project completion/fulfillment. They clearly provide an accurate picture of the work needed to be done. Furthermore, these stipulations are meant to line up the resources for the project with the organization’s objectives.
“Project requirements are the general prerequisites and/or objectives that are required in order to implement a project.”
Nevertheless, there are some benefits of properly listing project requirements. Some of which include:
- Reduction in cost
- High-level success rates of projects
- A more productive management of change
- Enhanced communication between stakeholders
Classifications of Project Requirements
Project requirements can be basically classified into three main groups: business, solution, and stakeholder requirements.
- Business requirements are the foremost needs of the commercial or business world. These requirements deal with the what and the why. What is required in the project and the reason why the project is happening.
For example: a business requirement might be to build a shop to promote going green. An eco-friendly building with highly-effective solar panels to reduce carbon footprints and cut down on environmental impact.
This shows the beginning of the project. And also, it provides a guide for every other requirement type. Subsequently, it is pertinent that each of these requirements is clearly stated early in the project.
- Solution requirements include both functional and non-functional requirements. It describes the exact characteristics or features of either the product, service, or result, that meet every requirement. Especially the business and stakeholder.
Functional requirements describe the behavior of a product/service. It shows what a product/service is required to do. On the other hand, Non-functional requirements describe the conditions or qualities necessary for a product/service to be effective. How the product/service should function.
Following the first example, your solar panel converts sunlight into electricity, which is a functional requirement. Whereas, the panels use an efficiency rate of 20% to produce this electricity. That is the non-functional requirement.
- Stakeholder requirements show the needs a stakeholder or a stakeholder group has. Stakeholder here is obviously used as a broad term. In light of this, the term refers to anyone that has a material interest in the project outcome.
Stakeholders could be either internal (employees) or equally external (customers, regulators, or suppliers).
Again, each individual stakeholder has a peculiar requirement (needs) to be met. Nonetheless, each need must be fulfilled during project implementation.
- Required Resources (manpower)
The human or manpower resources required also determine the quality of construction.
Similarly, the builders that are hired to work on the site have to be knowledgeable and skilled. You can’t expect the best from people that aren’t the best. The general contractors are responsible for choosing not only the right people but also the right amount of people. And then putting them in the right projects, at the right time.
Apart from this, you have to ensure that your manpower plan aligns with the project’s goals. The process of managing/planning for human resources is a continuous one. Continuous supervision along with regular reviews, forecasting future recruitment needs and ensuring a steady supply of manpower to meet project demand.
Essentially, the appropriate use of quality human resources will only lead to quality buildings if the manpower process remains ongoing.
- Site Layout Characteristics.
Alternatively, another factor that determines quality in construction is the site layout characteristics.
As sites tend to be very intricate places, they involve the movement and integration of huge amounts of materials. Along with top-quality products, plants, and people.
“When you efficiently and precisely lay out a site, quality is assured”.
Apart from the materials involved on-site, the characteristics of the site location, size, soil texture also determine quality. Even so, other characteristics such as site access, offices, and accommodations. As well as a storage area, plants, fencing, health & safety, and lastly temporary services, make or break quality.
- Construction Materials & Equipment.
Undoubtedly, the construction materials and equipment used in the building is a factor that determines the quality of construction.
In the first place, quality materials are vital for quality results. Materials of good quality would give you a very sturdy and durable building. Also, using quality equipment like heavy-duty machines, hand-held machines, and safety equipment leads to quality results.
For example: when high-quality materials are used in building walls, a very ideal/conducive environment is created. Equally perfect for embedding insulation, electrical pieces, and plumbing.
What to look out for when choosing materials and equipment
Firstly, ensure the materials or equipment you intend to purchase for the project are durable. Don’t purchase the type that will wear and tear in a short time. High-quality materials perform best and outlive lower-grade materials.
Secondly, using quality materials in construction helps to save on costs. Lesser quality materials and equipment call for more frequent maintenance. Along with paying for repairs or replacement, which results in more expenses. Repairing or replacing broken-down equipment or materials is a costly and difficult process. Besides, you can avoid these problems if you simply choose good materials and equipment.
Finally, using the right materials need to be taken into consideration in order to help provide a sustainable future. Sustainability depicts meeting your building needs without jeopardizing the ability of future builders to meet their own needs. This is why materials and machines are more environmentally friendly, to protect the environment.
- Financial Capabilities.
It should be noted that your financial capabilities are a factor that determines quality in construction.
The financial capabilities also mean the budget. A budget is the
‘Quantification of resources needed to achieve a task by a set time, within which the task owners are required to work… a budget consists of a financial and/or quantitative statement, prepared and approved prior to a defined period, for the purpose of attaining a given objective for that period.’ (CIOB Code of practice for project management).
The budget for your construction project will definitely show you which and what is affordable. When you work within your limit, you know what to buy, when, and how much of it.
A construction project budget often includes:
- The construction cost.
- Planning cost.
- Financing cost.
- Land or property acquisition.
- Site investigations.
- Approvals fees.
- Fixtures, fittings and equipment.
- The cost of decanting and relocating, including costs associated with moving staff.
- Contracts outside of the main works.
- Consultant fees.
- The Design Codes & Design Standards
A final factor that determines quality in construction is the design codes & design standards.
The design codes are rules pertaining to construction and building. Likewise, the design standards are the level of performance a building has to reach. The different aspects of building performance are addressed by a number of codes.
Furthermore, these codes include: building code (building design & construction), fire code (fire protection, hazardous materials, or carbon monoxide). And lastly, energy code (aimed at regulating energy conservation)
Correspondingly, these codes and standards serve as a common language. Also, this common language is important for not only defining quality but also establishing safety and performance benchmarks.
“Even though codes and standards slightly vary from country to country, anyone who fails to meet the code requirements, would lose their project. Codes and standards clearly serve as a requirement list for measuring high-performance of buildings.”
In this article, we have clearly shown you how important quality in construction is. As there are several factors that determine quality in construction, we listed six of them. Keep in mind always, that your budget, project requirements, and manpower resources help decide your project quality. Along with site layout characteristics, as well as construction materials and equipment.
This is why at Calebella, we consider these factors and ensure we meet them. Undoubtedly providing you with a building that screams quality.