This seems an obvious question! Of course quality is important on our construction projects! But then why do we continually see projects completed which are poor quality?
Is it because people:
- Don’t care?
- Don’t have the correct knowledge and experience?
- Don’t have the correct tools and equipment?
- Are trying to save money?
- Don’t have the time to do the work properly?
Saving money is also a poor excuse as the cost of completing poor quality work is usually the same as doing the work correctly - but rectifying poor quality work results in additional costs.
Why good quality construction is important
Unfortunately our employees often don’t understand the importance of good quality work. They don’t take pride in their work. It is important that management doesn’t except poor quality and don’t walk past work that’s unacceptable. Equally important though is to acknowledge good quality work and compliment those that have produced good quality.
Poor quality work costs money
Rectifying poor quality work costs enormous amounts of money to repair and rectify. Various research papers have quoted figures of between 5% and 15% of project costs are caused by poor quality work.
Not only is there the cost of repairing the defective work, but there are often the additional costs resulting from the delay to the project. Rectifying completed work often impacts adjacent items meaning that there’s usually more to fix than just the item that wasn’t acceptable in the first place.
Clients are also entitled to deduct money for work that they can prove is not according to specifications or which is of an unacceptable quality.
Poor quality work delays projects
Rectifying defective work takes time and also takes resources away from other parts of the project. A project can’t be handed over until all of the defects and snags have been completed and rectified.
Poor quality work loses customers
Contractors are only as good as their last project. Poor quality work on one project can quickly destroy client relationships. News of poor quality work can swiftly spread to other potential customers. Poor quality work can become a newsworthy item. Social media can rapidly spread pictures of poor quality.
Our completed projects are advertisements for our company.
Poor quality work disrupts cash flow
Usually contractors don’t get paid until the client is happy with the work and all snags or punch-list items have been completed. The non-completion of items can delay the release of retention monies as well as the release of bonds and sureties. Companies need to receive their money as soon as possible to pay their employees, suppliers and subcontractors. Disrupted cash flow can mean bills aren’t paid which will lead to unhappy employees, suppliers and subcontractors and even lead to bankruptcy.
Poor quality work causes accidents
There have been many cases of completed buildings and structures collapsing because the construction was done poorly. Reinforcing steel was omitted, the wrong strength concrete was utilised or inadequate foundations were constructed. These collapses can often be spectacular resulting in many deaths and feature prominently in the media.
But even when poor quality work is discovered during construction the rectification work can involve hazardous demolitions. Sometimes reaching the defective item is difficult, especially when it is detected after access has been removed. Rectification work is often done in haste and could involve unsafe practices.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the discarded rubble heaps on construction projects. Often this rubble is the result of poor quality work which has had to be demolished. All this detritus ultimately ends on the trash dumps. Materials and energy have been consumed to produce the poor quality product and more energy is consumed to bash it down so that the work can be redone correctly. All of which has a negative impact on the environment.
Poor quality work can lead to employee unhappiness
Poor quality work leads to defects. Unfortunately it’s often not the worker that produced the poor quality work who has to rectify the defect. We all hate cleaning up someone else’s mess! Those employees left to close out punch or snag lists aren’t usually very happy.
Demolishing defective work can be demoralising for the team since most construction workers want to build things and see progress.
An unhappy client isn’t a nice client to deal with. Clients that face a poor quality project can be difficult and cantankerous (and rightly so) and they often look for other faults.
Poor quality work can make recruiting good people difficult
Employees want to work for companies with a good reputation. Invariably companies that produce poor quality don’t have the best managers and skilled people. Youngsters want to work for a company where they’ll be taught by good people. Who wants to work for a company where you are going to be facing abusive clients unhappy with the quality of their project? Who wants to work for a company when your job may result in you going back to fix mistakes on other people’s projects? Working for a company with a poor reputation doesn’t look good on your CV.
Good people are proud of their work.
Poor quality work teaches bad habits
When management accepts poor quality work this poor quality becomes the norm. The workers who have produced the poor quality work will invariably repeat that standard of work on other projects. Junior and new employees will assume the poor standard of work is acceptable and will assume it is standard practice in the company, and will repeat the same poor standard elsewhere.
Poor Quality work leads to problems later
Patching something often results in a weak point which can lead to a failure later. Many contractors are called back to projects during the defects liability period to repair items that weren’t constructed correctly in the beginning, or items that were ‘patched’ during construction and the repair wasn’t done properly so hasn’t lasted very long. Sometimes these poor repairs lead to other problems and impact other parts of the structure making the repair job even bigger and costlier than if the repair had been attended to properly in the first place.
Poor quality work on one project negatively impacts other projects
Often resources are meant to move onto other projects but are tied up fixing defective work and closing out snag or punch-list items. This has a knock-on effect on the next project that is left waiting for resources, which then delays that project.
There is no excuse for poor quality work. Indeed there are many reasons to produce good quality work. Our clients are paying us to produce a quality product that conforms to their specifications, their scope of works and their expectations. They would like to be proud of their new facility and have many years of use from it without the inconvenience of repairing defective workmanship.
But as important, is that the completed project is an advertisement for your company. You should be proud of the completed project, and it should be one you are happy to show to your children. Your employees should be equally proud to be part of a successful and quality product.
Why is good quality work important to you?
This article is adapted from information in the author’s popular books: 'Successful Construction Project Management: The Practical Guide' and 'Building a Successful Construction Company: The Practical Guide'.
'Construction Claims: A Short Guide for Contractors' has just been published. These books are available on Amazon and other online book stores.
Paul publishes articles regularly on LinkedIn and his website.
Paul writes regular articles for other websites, gives lectures, mentors, and is available for podcasts and interviews.
© 2017 This article is not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission from the author.