Everything You Need To Know About Quality Assurance In Building Construction

Published on:
May 4, 2024
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In the complex domain of project management, trust and satisfaction is an asset to drive on. Modern construction necessitates not just finishing your task, but completing your task with quality in it. 

This is where the efficacy of quality assurance in building construction becomes the most valuable thing to have in project management to ensure that every aspect of the project is up to standards.

Quality assurance in construction is a double-edged task. One is to prevent the errors from occurring before they are built and the second one is to ensure that decisions are being made according to the project requirement. Everything starting from the material, process used, and all other things which in total build a structure are to be examined for maintaining the required level of quality. 

Certifications, project management strategy, and the intellectual power of your labor all come under quality assurance.

Quality assurance measures should be adopted by contractors or project managers to guarantee that your construction project is completed correctly and with little disruption. This approach enables trained specialists to identify potential concerns with your building project before they become major issues, which can cause costly delays and create deadly dangers on-site. 

The most common OSHA violations in the construction sector are fall protection, hazard communication, ladders, respiratory protection, and scaffolding, demonstrating the necessity of these quality assurance procedures.

This guide aims to explore the numerous variables and loopholes that can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of quality assurance and provide suggestions to upgrade the quality of construction projects.

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What is Quality Assurance in Building Construction?

Quality Assurance in building construction defines a process that will be met to assure that all contracts and laborers meet the required scope, budget, and quality standards that are outlined in the project. 

A quality assurance inspection is a check of your rules, procedures, and best practices to make sure that all projects will meet defined goals.

In a nutshell, the process starts from the planning stage until the completion of the project and it is not a one-time thing. The QA inspection will consist of a few reviews in multi-level and aspects; not limited to:

  • Review all planning documents.
  • Review all document handling and document submission procedures.
  • Review your budgeted cost and cost requirement for all materials used.
  • Review your scope of work and the anticipated completion of the project.
  • Includes all subsequent inspections and when those inspections should take place in the preconstruction plan.
  • Establish a report of quality observation guidelines sheet used for each QA inspection.
  • Comply with all manufacturing instructions from the manufacturer to ensure proper installation procedures from the trade’s men and contractor character meet.
  • All manufacturing instructions are followed and compliance is being met by all building contractors and tradesmen during the building of the project. 
  • Proper procedures are being planned to document all hazards and if all quality standards are being met or if they are not met at any point of the construction process.
  • Continuous QA monitoring of all work progress in comparison to the intended scope, budget, completion date, design intent, and quality standards.

QC VS QA in the Construction Industry

Quality assurance and quality control are two different processes that are related to each other and can be often used interchangeably for the wrong reasons.

At the most fundamental level, QA activities are about preventing defects while QC activities are about identifying and reporting faults to fix them.

Quality Assurance is done before the real construction starts. Quality Assurance refers to the review of quality, telling you the practices, procedures, standards, and policies that will have to be carried out to ensure the organization is fulfilling its Quality obligations. 

The key elements of QC are inspection and activity. When you have the best arrangement and framework set up (done in QA), you need to screen the work to ensure the outcomes are what you anticipate them to be. In other words, QC is the investigation of the craftsmanship on a construction site. Quality Control verifies that the desired quality is met.

  • Quality control identifies suppliers, materials, and procedures that meet QA criteria. 
  • QC confirms that the construction satisfies QA's specifications.
  • QC checks project requirements against QA methods.

Let us consider the example of slab construction. Here QA means to have someone who is monitoring and checking form work getting the issues(s) (if any) fixed and ensuring the same are set before starting concreting in the slab. While QC will be a specific person/inspector due to visit that construction site and witness, the rebar dia, rebar spacing, no of rebars as per drawing, formwork is sturdy & secured, no debris cover blocks are in place, etc.

Importance of Quality Assurance in Building Construction

  1. Maximizing Project Success 

Ensuring project success in construction management requires a strategic approach amid countless challenges. 

One of the crucial steps in this process is the implementation of quality assurance inspections.

These inspections are not merely official checkpoints; they are proactive measures that help bring about project efficiency and minimize potential risks. 

  1. Streamlining Project Sccope and Volume 

Managing various buildings and locations simultaneously is fraught with complications. 

The key to managing this phase effectively is to be ahead of the problem so you have to conduct quality assurance inspections even before setting out for the project. These inspections will show construction faults 

and serve as a means of standardizing processes from the onset. When builder incompetencies are detected early enough, the implementation process of the project will be smooth and you are assured that your predetermined scope and volume are being adhered to.

  1. Optimal Budget Allocation 

The construction industry is faced with severe budget constraints, hence the managers must be very prudent in their financial plan. 98% of megaprojects are delayed or beyond budget

Quality assurance in building construction provides managers with a great view which helps in forecasting budget overruns. The inspection comes after a comprehensive impact analysis which brings to light both the direct and indirect costs aiding the manager in allocating resources properly. 

This prevents the managers from resource diverting which would lead to using more finances elsewhere. The inspection also exposes the manager to proactively fit and cater for financial contingencies hence the protection of the project profit.

  1. Early Issue Detection 

Quality Assurance Inspections are practiced to identify potential hazards before these become defects on the cost of heavy repairs or may impose safety threats to labor. 

It fortifies the project by implementing regulatory compliances, defining methodologies for safety protocols, and thresholds for material quality to bring resilience to the project and minimize liabilities.

  1. Regulatory Compliance

One of the several challenges builders face is regulatory compliance. 

Quality assurance inspections offer builders a bit of a safety net because they are evaluating their document control, their worker training, and their quality controls. In turn, these inspections help demonstrate that the builder is in compliance with federal mandates and local ordinances and help the builder avoid costly legal issues.

  1. Bridging Knowledge Gap

As discussed earlier, the construction sector is complex and comprises several subcontractors and specialists in a diverse range of trades. 53% of contractors in the United States believe that time restrictions and the urgency of choices pose the biggest danger to decision-making. 

The varying levels of knowledge can do a lot to undermine the smooth running of projects. Quality assurance inspections help to bridge these knowledge gaps.

By imposing set procedures and protocols across the board, they improve the standard of work, complementing the contractor’s training, and understanding of a particular project, to maintain continuity in the build, and the desired design, across the complete life cycle of the construction project.

  1. Enhancing Energy Efficiency 

Buildings produce around 40% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. Given the current appreciation for eco-friendly living, demanding energy-efficient benchmarks in construction projects has become obligatory. 

Quality assurance in building construction aids in achieving this by examining the energy efficiency benchmark requirements and devising a methodology of enhanced accomplishment.

Aligning your project to the green standards set by these inspections would not only help customer satisfaction, it also increase the value of the property at the end of the day.

  1. Reduced Quality Control Burden

 Though an essential component of any construction project, quality control can be costly and disruptive when handled reactively. 

By verifying that the work is being performed as required and includes all contractually required components before it is covered, quality assurance in construction inspections can minimize the cost and frequency of quality control interventions and optimize project performance and profits.

Managing Quality Assurance in Building Construction

Quality building construction goes just beyond meeting the standard; it goes as far as meeting and exceeding your expectations at every stage of the project. 

Every stage of the project from laying the foundation to putting on the final touch requires the committed attention to detail of skilled craftsmen committed to meeting and exceeding the highest standard.

To jumpstart this journey, construction inspectors need to first establish clear quality objectives to serve as guiding principles throughout the project life cycle. The objectives should reflect the aspirations of our clients, align with best practices in the industry, and comply with all the pertinent regulations. 

Equally important is documenting quality standards. This kind of documentation provides a road map for all stakeholders. It ensures that everyone is on the same path with material specifications, construction codes, etc. Good communication helps ensure that there are less misunderstandings and more accountability.

What's next? you need to develop a comprehensive Quality Management Plan (QMP) that lists the processes, procedures, and responsibilities for maintaining the quality throughout the project lifecycle. This will define the significant checkpoints, the inspection schedule, and the testing protocols.

Minimize the risk for quality-related issues by selecting suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors that have a good track record. Thoroughly vet their qualifications, certifications, and adherence to industry standards. If you choose team members who have a proven track record of quality construction, your chances of success are greatly increased.

It is fundamentally important to set up a solid system to maintain and enforce a policy of quality control inspections. 

Structural integrity, material quality, and regulatory compliance all need to be consistently examined to catch any issues or variances from your plan early. This can be helped by utilizing Inspection Test Plans (ITPs) in your project that are specifically built to focus on the top items of concern in Structural Integrity, Material Quality, and Regulatory Compliance.

Documentation and reporting help track all quality-related activities. 

Documentation is presented in different forms and it would include inspection reports, test results, non-conformity reports, and many more. Proper documentation and reporting will ensure transparency and accountability in the quality assurance system. The report should be generated promptly so that the proper action can be taken where necessary.

Finally, embracing a culture of continuous improvement is the key to staying ahead in an industry that is constantly changing. Learning from past projects, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing enhancements is an ongoing process across all our business areas. 

How Digitization Helps in Quality Assurance in Building Construction

Historically a labour-intensive process, quality assurance in construction buildings has been linear at best, with the potential for error and delays. 

But there's another way the construction industry is turned upside-down by digital processes: Quality Management Tools

Understanding how digital tools are transforming the way we can automate and validate quality assurance operations will give us a quick look at how digital processes are helping improve results, accountability, efficiency, and costs.

Physical measurement and paper-based manual processes were the reality on construction sites, but the latest digital solutions digitized measurement data at the point of capture, streamlining the whole QA process. 

Sharing information with site teams is also simpler and with less admin overhead, while data analysis is more accurate. The result is faster decision-making, project-wide buy-in, and the ability for quality engineers to deal quickly with any issues on site and keep projects on track and within budget.

A remarkable advance enabled by digital technology is the implementation of construction defect tracking systems, this is allowing us to view construction performance over various stages of a project from detecting quality defects on a just-in-time basis. 

The key is to ensure that exceptional quality measures are not compromised just to meet the needs of the project schedule and without adding significant project costs. 

Digital tools enable everyone involved in a construction project to design, implement, and operate more reliable and cost-effective QA systems. By digitizing your QA processes, your construction team will effortlessly find their way through the built-in complexities of engineering, infrastructure, and building projects.

To advance quality management in construction, you can frequently use a variety of digital tools and methodologies, these include:

Quality Control Plan carefully put together a quality assurance plan in construction building designed to outline all the quality control procedures such as quality control testing, inspection, and security required to make sure that the quality of data is maintained at the expected level. 

Inspection and testing of goods and equipment: Comprehensive inspection of materials and equipment to ensure compliance with defined standards and to mitigate any quality differences. 

  • Inspection Checklists: Detailed checklists act as a road map, providing an in-depth assessment of all building features with no opportunity for error.
  • Non-Conformance Reports (NCRs): Documenting violations from plans or specifications during construction to enable prompt corrective action.
  • Corrective and Preventive Action: CAPA is a proactive technique for identifying and correcting quality faults, preventing them from recurring.
  • Audits: Evaluating the efficacy of QA and QC procedures, finding areas for improvement, and consistently raising the quality standard.
  • Statistical Process Control (SPC): Using statistical approaches to monitor and manage building processes, discover deviations, and ensure consistency.

At The End of The Day...

Diseases associated with hazardous chemicals in construction account for an estimated 651,279 fatalities worldwide each year.

Quality assurance in building construction plays a critical role in maintaining standards, reducing risks, and improving efficiencies throughout the production process. 

Today, with the availability of quality assurance software, manufacturers have powerful tools at their disposal to optimize operations, reduce mistakes, and drive continuous improvement.

On that note, switching to a digitized quality assurance solution is the best way to move forward.

However, it isn't that easy. 

Since there’s an abundance of online solutions available these days, your best bet is to go on a trialing spree and see how different quality assurance programs work - and that too, by signing up for a free plan.

Once you’re okay with whatever your desired tool has to offer, feel free to switch to a paid plan and then take it from there.

Good luck!

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