Have you had to go back to a project long after completion to fix something?
Was it easy?
Did it cost money?
Did you enjoy it?
Covering up defective construction
Often Contractors turn a blind eye to potential quality problems.
Mistakes get covered up by dirt, concrete, sheeting and paving. Hopefully never to be found by the Client, or anyone else in the future.
Some Construction Project Managers are adept at walking Architects, the Client and Quality Inspectors past poor quality. It’s sometimes easy to distract the person and get them to look elsewhere, or temporarily block the offending work from view.
Some Contractors even carry out clandestine operations after hours to quickly ‘patch’, or hide, defective construction work.
Unfortunately often these defects manifest themselves later – sometimes with devastating consequences with loss of life such as collapsed buildings.
The cost of ignoring building defects
Contractors are usually responsible for repairing visible construction defects for a period of 3 to 12 months after the construction project has been completed. But defects that have been hidden, will have to be repaired by the Contractor when these problems eventually become visible. Usually Contractors are liable for these defects up to 5 to 10 years after the construction project is completed, and in some jurisdictions they’re even liable for ever. Would you like to be called back to repair a defect 5 years after the construction project has been completed? Of course not!
But Contractors regularly hide defective construction work. Damaged pipes are covered over with ground. When the leak is eventually noticed the area could be covered by paving, or if it’s under the house then by concrete floor slabs, carpets and more. Repairing a simple cracked pipe could cost thousands when finished floors have to be ripped up inside someone’s house – compared to a few dollars if it’s fixed during construction. But sometimes the problem causes even more damage, think of a roof leak. Water from the roof could enter the house and damage ceilings, cupboards and even furniture. A simple construction defect can cost thousands to fix later. It also reflects poorly on the Contractor’s reputation.
It’s therefore imperative that construction defects are repaired properly when they are first noticed so that they don’t cause a bigger problem later. Don't wait for the Architect or Engineer to notice the problem. Defects should be repaired as soon as possible while they’re still easily accessible. Waiting until the end of the project may result in other completed work being damaged when the defect is repaired, and access may be more difficult. In addition, the skills and the materials required to fix the problem may no longer be available on the construction project and they’ll have to be brought back to the project at additional cost.
Quality problems must be fixed properly
It’s sometimes tempting just to patch over poor quality construction work and quickly cover it up. But will the problem actually be fixed, or will it manifest itself later, maybe even after the project is completed.
Next time you try and cover-up, patch, or hide poor-quality construction work and defects, consider the consequences of your action. The problem may very well come to bite you later, costing your company additional money and impacting your reputation.
Rather take the time to do the task properly. Be proud of your completed work.
Mistakes will happen, but make sure they are fixed properly so there aren’t problems in the future
Other Useful articles:
Does anyone give a …. anymore?
The true costs of poor quality construction
How we can improve quality in construction
This article is an extract from the book 'The Successful Construction Supervisor and Foreman'.
© 2021 This article is not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission from the author.
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Copyright 2016 - The attached articles cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without the consent of the author.
The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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