What is Quality? The term quality means different things to different people. Some take it as the degree of excellence of a product while some take it to be the ability of a product to satisfy a need. According to the International Organization for Standardization, quality means “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils the requirement.”
So what is the importance of quality in the construction industry? Every construction company faces lot of competition in the market and hence it becomes important for them to provide products of excellent quality to the clients at lowest possible prices. The impact of maintaining quality during construction work is manifold. It not only helps in satisfying the customer requirements but also helps in reducing costs and increasing profits.
A lot of problems facing construction work are due to the fact that quality is not assured in construction. Quality assurance can be done if we avoid problems such as lack of communication among architects, engineers, contractors and material suppliers, poor coordination of subcontractor’s work, unqualified operators, uncertain instructions and misinterpretation of drawings and specifications or use of superseded drawings. Such problems can lead to frequent delays in project as well as financial loss to companies. This has a negative impact on the profitability of the project for the promoters. Besides the above mentioned problems, lack of quality in construction will cause litigation among architects, engineers, subcontractors and material suppliers as each party is blaming each other for the problems at the building site.
So how is quality achieved? In William A. Foster’s words, “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skilful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” It is generally assumed that mistakes occurring on site are usually made on site; however most of the defects are caused due to poor management and communication. Quality can be achieved when such preventable mistakes are avoided in the first instance. There should be a proper organisation structure and clear lines of communication and responsibility. The conduct of an individual in an organisation directly or indirectly affects the quality of the finished product.
Hence, construction companies must give proper training to their employees so that they can understand their jobs better as well as get trained on the new technology to work and perform better. Checklists must be maintained by the engineers at all times. All the working as well as structural drawings must be studied properly and revisions, if any, must be communicated to all the concerned persons effectively. Construction work is team work and all members need to contribute to the quality of the construction. Regular inspections and audits should be carried out at the construction sites as well as the head offices. The problems of low quality and other problems of the company are highlighted during these inspections.
In short, quality is important for the construction companies to develop a strong foothold in the market, to minimise losses and maximise profits and, last but not the least, to serve the customers better every day.