What’s happening to our quality control?

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  1. Getting it right first time should be the goal and in the ideal world is what happens. In the real world we do try to help instill a quality culture in a proactive manner from before the start of a project, to help contractors and design teams. Random inspection helps quality control just through human nature, people do better if they know they are being checked. Clerks of works are alive and kicking. Our business does nothing but that service and we inspect £1bn worth of construction a year to help prevent recurring issues. We are being used more these days as a pool of skills to help train, set up quality regimes as well as inspections
    Tony Mobbs.
    MD Hickton Consultants Ltd.

  2. (the lack of a properly trained workforce as one of the key reasons why quality is suffering).

    Is it not the rule that untrained workers should not be allowed on site without certification or evidence of their skills?

  3. Quality is and always has been a key issue for clients and contractors alike. Bringing back the Clerk of Works, however, is not the answer. The answer lies in the necessity for quality to be built in from the earliest point of the construction process. This needs a “get it right first time” mentality within the contracting chain and in this regard Willmott Dixon have got it right! You cannot inspect quality into the process, you do indeed get what you pay for and for too long we have expected to pay as little as we can, this is the essence of the value vs cost debate.

  4. Mr Benson’s comment – … bring back the Clerk of Works is not the answer would be correct in the utopian society where we all act, produce and charge at the best interest of the whole planet, unfortunately life isn’t like that.

    Egan & Latham identified problems in the industry, with Egan asking for a quality drive agenda.

    Universities at the turn of the millennia were spouting; there is no need for independent inspection in the industry as construction will deliver a quality product. No, better than that, with PFI, the Industry will take a cradle to grave role, so it is in their interest to produce a high quality product. Obviously not. Meanwhile OFSTED & the Care Quality Commission are inspecting organisations with so called vocational professionals.

    So, at the moment it seems we do need independent inspection.

    I could rattle on for hours about skill shortages, lack of experience and many, many other factors – but whilst the Industry is slightly broken (quality wise) it still needs the very, very minor project cost of the independent inspector.

    In the meantime, savvy clients will keep me in work looking after their interests.

    Tony Shipley BSC (Hons) MICWCI & an ‘O’ level in geography

  5. Quality should be part of the tender selection process. As part of it contractors should have to employ a specific quality manager with specific reporting duties. Rather than just letting the contractor do what they want working to the given tolerances and ACOPS. You can’t blame the contractors if these tolerances are met and the quality isn’t suitable for the finished product. Design……

  6. Clerks of Works certainly haven’t gone away! It is simply a case of whether the Client is aware of the value of a Clerk of Works, and if so, have they chosen to factor one in.

    As the construction industry has become progressively management orientated, Contractors increasingly face the dilemma posed by the quality-cost-time conundrum, this challenge exacerbated by the fall in skill and resource levels sometimes results in poor standards of workmanship.

    Having a Clerk of Works or Construction Inspector engaged on a project provides a Client with the assurance that their interests are being safeguarded, ensuring that their build is to a high quality and is value for money; it is the view of the Institute of Clerks of Works and Construction Inspectorate (ICWCI) that all sites should be regularly quality monitored and independently inspected by suitably qualified Clerks of Works; and have regular building control inspections with free flowing dialogue with the Clerk of Works.

  7. I concur with what was written. It has been my experience of over 30 plus years as a Quality Manager that when trying to win work in a tight economy quality control is usually the first to go as a cost to win new work. I have seen this here in the US not just in the commercial area but in government.
    Doing the work right the first time every time will save money but without proper oversight and no check and balance you will get what you pay for.

  8. My experience in working in architecure, is that for technical staff, there is little penalty on lack of quality in design and documentation, if anything the opposite.

    The ones who skip any pretence at giving a damn are promoted as they are ‘efficient’, ‘focused’ and ‘get the job done’.

    It is the one who realises there is a problem and who deals with it, who ends up costing the practice in fees (that would be otherwise going towards partners’ ski holidays), who end up being put back in a box.

    Very depressing.

  9. Rachael Morris talks sense, especially para.3, re. the dual system of inspection
    by a CofW and Building Control Inspector, this method was used during the
    Construction of Redditch New Town by the local authority and it covered both
    Clients Quality Assurance and the enforcement of the Building Regulations.

    However this comes at a cost.
    Please remember a Builder runs a business to make a profit and survive and if clients expect a Rolls Royce for a Mini price then He /She is better to walk away
    than lose all, as so many have!!!

    John Anthony

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