How can the construction industry improve quality standards?

Every reputable business within the construction industry will understand how important it is to ensure that any projects they are involved with are high quality – not only to uphold their own reputation, but also to ensure public health and safety.

Quality is critical

Meeting a high standard of quality is a key issue for the construction industry – in fact, it’s estimated that poor quality is costing the industry more than the combined profits of all the companies within it[1]. Research by housing charity Shelter found that over half (51%) of new build homeowners in the UK have experienced major problems with their properties, such as construction issues, unfinished fittings and faults with utilities[2].

At the very least, poor construction quality affects the usability and/or aesthetics of a building – but in some cases, it can seriously impact the health and safety of those that live and work in poorly built constructions. We saw the devastating effects of poor design quality when Grenfell Tower caught fire in 2017, which lead to the deaths of 72 people.

This tragedy, along with the closure of 17 Edinburgh schools due to structural concerns in February 2017, prompted the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) to launch a Construction Quality Commission (CQC) in 2017. The CQC proposed an industry-wide Code of Quality Practice, which it launched a consultation around earlier this year.

But while we wait for the outcomes of the consultation, what can construction companies be doing now to ensure their projects are consistently high quality?

Our top tips for quality management

Inform your workers

When it comes to managing quality across your site, staying up-to-date with current industry best practice can make it easier to identify areas for improvement within your organisation.

Make education and training of your staff a key priority, to ensure that everyone understands what is required of them to deliver a high quality project. For suppliers this can be particularly beneficial, as if you can demonstrate that your workers have undertaken quality training and qualifications could give you an advantage when it comes to bidding for projects.

Make everyone accountable

You may have a dedicated quality manager or advisor on board, but ensuring work is done to a high quality isn’t solely their responsibility. They should oversee quality management across the project and ensure that your quality processes are implemented, but ultimately, every one of your workers is responsible for producing high quality work.

Make sure your staff understand that while they can always turn to their quality manager for best practice advice, they are accountable for implementing this advice.

Choose subcontractors and suppliers carefully

If you’re a buyer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the subcontractors and suppliers you choose will be able to deliver your project to the high standards of quality you expect. ISO 9001 is the international quality standard covering a range of quality management standards, including customer focus, process approach and continual improvement

We know that it can be time-consuming to build a high quality supply chain, which is why we’re making it easier for quality buyers and suppliers to find and connect with each other. We validate all of our Gold supplier members’ credentials, so suppliers can prove that they operate to a high standard and buyers can easily identify the suppliers whose values align with their own.

To find out more about the benefits of joining Constructionline as either a buyer or a supplier, visit  https://www.constructionline.co.uk/products-services/memberships/.

 

[1] https://www.ciob.org/blog/consultation-new-code-quality-practice

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/nov/17/quality-build-homes-charles-church-buyers

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