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Everything to Know about Quality Risks

The meaning of Quality Issues, causes and how to mitigate Quality Risks during a project.

What is Quality Issues?

Quality Issues in construction refer to defects or deviations from the standards or specifications agreed upon in the construction contract. Quality extends through to the design and engineering aspects of the construction project. At the lowest level, Quality can also just relate to substandard workmanship, use of low quality materials, resulting in a final product that fails to meet the expectations of the Project Owner.

What does Quality Risk mean?

'Quality Risk' means there is a real risk of the completed asset being:

  • Poor Quality
  • Non-compliant to design, specifications, or regulatory requirements
  • Not fit for purpose
  • Substandard workmanship

If any of these Quality Risks are realised, your capital project has a Quality Issue to deal with and may face the consequences outlined further below.

Quality Issue Examples

An example of quality issues in construction is the use of lower-grade concrete than specified in the contract for the foundation of a building, which could lead to reduced structural integrity and longevity of the construction. The most common examples of quality defects in construction include roof cracks, leaking plumbing, faulty electrical systems.

The History of Quality Issues

Quality issues have plagued the construction industry forever! Most often resulting from poor craftsmanship, inadequate supervision, bad design, or the use of substandard materials. Over time, the industry has implemented more stringent quality control procedures and standards to mitigate these risks and ensure compliance throughout the construction process.

It became apparent that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was leaning in the late 1170s, after completion of the first three of the tower's planned eight stories. The leaning was caused by the uneven settling of the building's foundations in the soft ground.

Causes of Quality Issues

Quality issues can arise from several factors:

  • Poor Workmanship: Lack of skills or negligence by workers during construction.
  • Substandard Materials: Use of materials that do not meet quality standards or specifications.
  • Inadequate Supervision: Insufficient oversight of the construction process by project managers or supervisors.
  • Design Flaws: Errors or omissions in the project's design documents.
  • Rushed Timelines: Excessive time pressure leading to rushed work and corner-cutting.

Likelihood of Quality Issues

The likelihood of encountering quality issues depends on the rigor of design and project management practices, the skill level of the workforce, and the quality control measures in place. Proper training, oversight, and adherence to standards are crucial for minimizing these risks.

Consequence / Impact of Quality Issues

The impact of quality issues can be significant, including the need for costly repairs, delays in project completion, legal liabilities, and damage to the company’s reputation. Severe quality issues might even endanger the safety of the end-users.

Quality Issues Clauses in Construction Contracts

Quality issues clauses in construction contracts are critical for ensuring that construction meets agreed-upon standards:

  • Warranties and Guarantees: Stipulate warranties for materials and workmanship, ensuring recourse in the event of quality failures.
  • Inspection Rights: Grant clients and their representatives the right to inspect construction work at various stages to ensure quality standards are being met.
  • Compliance with Standards: Require compliance with national or international construction standards.
  • Remedial Action: Define the obligations for corrective action if quality issues are identified, including who bears the cost.

Mitigations and Treatments for Quality Issues Risk

Effective mitigation and treatment strategies for quality issues include:

  • Quality Control Procedures: Implement stringent quality control procedures throughout the construction process, including regular inspections and audits.
  • Supplier and Material Verification: Rigorously verify suppliers and materials to ensure they meet required standards before use in construction.
  • Training and Certification: Provide ongoing training and certification for workers and subcontractors to maintain high standards of workmanship.
  • Documentation and Record Keeping: Maintain detailed records of all construction activities and material certifications to ensure traceability and accountability for quality.

Risk Management and Reporting of Market Condition Risks

As we've seen above, there are alot of considerations when it comes to Risk Management. Implementing Risk Management and Reporting controls will make managing this risk easy, and ensure success of your Capital Project.

  1. Risk Management Plan: Download a free Risk Management Plan Template and put a Risk Management process in place.
  2. Risk Register: Download a manual Risk Register Template or use an automated Risk Register solution to track all risks, causes, consquences and mitigations.
  3. Reporting: Create automated Risk Reports, Project Status Reports or Dashboards for communicating with stakeholders. If you need a free Report Template, you can find some examples here.
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