A quality control (QC) program can help drive the success of construction projects by ensuring contract and safety requirements are met—and work is done right the first time. For general contractors tasked with QC responsibilities, this means making sure the project is built to plan, specifications, industry and safety standards, and requirements set by the architect, engineer, and owner
Typically part of a project-specific Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) plan, QC relies heavily on inspections during all phases of construction. When superintendents, project managers, and/or dedicated QC staff follow a rigorous field inspection schedule and daily safety checks, they can identify problems and take measures to correct any oversights before they lead to more expensive—or dangerous—issues.
Whereas a QA plan is part of early-stage project planning to lay the groundwork and formulate processes that will lead to the best outcomes, QC activities occur throughout the project to determine whether the results of completed work meet the criteria outlined in the QA plan. In addition to inspections of all types, QC includes conducting audits—based on metrics that have been established early in the project’s front-end planning—to aggressively benchmark quality throughout construction. Maintaining an ongoing list of corrective items that must be accomplished before the responsible subcontractor is paid or leaves the job is also essential. It all boils down to identifying issues as they happen, and addressing them before they become bigger problems that could impact the project deadline and budget, your reputation, and— most importantly—the safety of job site workers and end users.
Quality Control involves many different stakeholders and Inspections. Below are some of the following:
City Building Inspectors
Building inspectors must examine a variety of construction details and assess them for compliance with local and national building codes, zoning laws, and contract specifications.
Commercial construction inspections must be undertaken for all building systems (foundation work, framing, mechanical systems, roofing, plumbing, electrical, etc.) and be performed at multiple stages of building completion
Third-party Inspectors: ( Soil Testing, Waterproofing, ADA, etc)
Third-party Inspector responsibilities can range from materials and soil testing to regional issues of concern, owner requirements, material manufacturer recommendations, and ADA Compliance.
Communication throughout the Project
Limited communication between field staff, contractors, designers, and engineers can lead to costly project delays as well as devastating construction defects. Detailed record-keeping that includes completed inspection forms, project photos illustrating issues, and dated sign-off forms can help provide project insight. But keeping records is only half the story; simply having records adds no value if nobody sees them. A key component of QC is making sure the appropriate stakeholders can access the records. These stakeholders can include, but are not limited to:
- Project owners
- Field staff (superintendents, project managers, project engineers, etc.)
- Dedicated QC personnel
Even a relatively small construction project can be complex, involving many players in the QC process to ensure its success. On large projects, the scale and number of details involved in construction inspections, and the paperwork they generate, can become staggering. Making inspection data transparent and available to team members and project partners can become a time-consuming, paper-shuffling nightmare. Hardcopies can get lost, leading to deficient items going unnoticed and unresolved.
Record-Keeping of Quality Control
The key to QC is performing good inspections with thorough recordkeeping. This means putting everything in “writing.” Keeping logs of inspections with project photos as evidence is critical to building the documentation that can help resolve issues or keeping logs of QC that is critical during litigation. In the past, the best tools for the job were pencil and paper, cameras, and daily logbooks that included detailed descriptions of project issues, times, locations, and signed or initialed pages. Quite a few contractors still use this method. Often, the daily log information has to be re-entered into an email or software program at the end of the day—or when the superintendent or project manager is able to access a computer and upload the information onto a server—so it can be shared with the project team. The manual-entry process takes time, meaning many team members do not receive inspection data in real time. Additionally, hardcopy materials are often kept in a binder that is organized by project phase. The binder includes notes of work tasks and other project elements that are then signed or initialed as they are verified or corrected. The binder becomes part of the project record and is an important part of completing the project on time and with the expected quality maintained. However, making that physical binder available to those who need it, when and where they need it, is problematic. The delivery time alone may stall the project as the decision-makers and team members wait to review the necessary paperwork. To remedy the above issues, Maxx Builders uses mobile, cloud-based QC processes to digitize their QC activities:
- By using digital inspection forms and securely storing them online, Maxx Builders gives the entire project team real-time access to inspection data so appropriate action can be taken without unnecessary delays.
- Maxx Builders Field staff equipped with tablets and smartphones can fill out inspection forms, take pictures with their mobile devices to attach to the forms, add notes and comments, and immediately share that information with others.
- Maxx Builders Project teams no longer have to wait for vital project information to make decisions and move the project forward.
Going Digital Standardizes Quality Control Processes
QC activities tend to generate an overwhelming amount of data. Managing inspection forms becomes much easier if computers or tablets are used in lieu of paper and binders since these are difficult to store and subsequently locate and distribute when they are needed. Paper forms also lack flexibility and standardization across multiple projects:
- Contractors often mistakenly use forms that are outdated, causing insufficient documentation of the project. If an inspection is not thorough, or thoroughly documented, it can cause delays and significant costs.
- Different types of information, particularly photographs, tend to become separated from completed inspection forms, resulting in valuable supporting materials getting lost in the system.
In-house, server-based software solutions have been used for years to streamline document management; however, it is difficult to access digitized forms from the job site. And yet, the job site is where inspections take place and many decisions are made. Maxx Builders’ mobile, cloud-based solutions are taking inspection document management to a new level by establishing standard processes to create and fill out forms, track inspections, and notify responsible contractors—from the job site. These processes enhance the QC effort in several ways:
- Forms and templates are kept in the cloud, rather than on an in-house server, so remote team members can easily retrieve them and use them from project to project.
- Uniform inspection checklist forms ensure that the right questions are being asked, and the right steps taken, in every situation.
- Templates can be updated over time to keep project portfolios current with evolving quality-management processes.
- It is easier to train employees on quality control tasks when consistent, repeatable processes are in place.
Instant access to archived Quality Control Project Data
Maxx Builders Inspection processes allow the project team to create inspection checklist forms and use them to thoroughly and accurately report the quality conditions of any given project:
- When Maxx Builders personnel are performing inspections on the job site, simple “yes,” “no,” or “not applicable” answers are marked in the inspection checklist.
- If inspected items are found to be deficient, supporting comments and attachments can be digitally captured, saved, and shared so that action can be taken.
- Using the same device that is being used to access the checklist, superintendents can take photos and mark them up, then link them directly to the checklist item.
- Nonconforming items can be identified and tracked as solutions are implemented.
- Digital entries are automatically linked to data regarding who took a given photo, who inserted a particular comment, etc., for increased accountability.
- Entries are time-stamped, further enhancing the completeness of the log. The benefits of these capabilities can be seen in other aspects of the project, including a reduction in punch list items (since standardized inspections are resulting in more efficient problem resolution). Plus, the ability to have all photographs present, organized, and linked to the digital drawing set at the end of a project simplifies commissioning and close-out.
Trifecta Of Improvements: Accuracy, Accountability, Accessibility
By adopting Maxx Builders cloud-based technology on projects we improve the accuracy of your project’s construction inspections, provide all team members with real-time access to inspection results, and increase team members’ accountability in terms of inspections conducted and corrective actions taken. It is a level of professionalism that will distinguish and differentiate us from our competitors. By following a regular inspection schedule, complete with safety checks and audits, our team can identify and resolve issues before they become bigger problems, to keep your project on time and within budget.