When it comes to quality, getting it right the first time is what counts. Out of the 703 entries in the Registered Master Builders PlaceMakers 2006 House of the Year and RMB Commercial Project Awards, 246 winners got it “as close to right” as is possible.
They received Gold Awards while the other entries which received Bronze or Silver were not far behind. My congratulations to all of those who entered.
This is a good lead into one of my favourite hobby horses — quality assurance and getting it right the fi rst time — or, in other words, the cost of not getting it right the first time. As we have all experienced, we have far greater control over our own staff, and convincing them of the above, than our subcontractors.
The normal attitude is that since the main contractor will check the work anyway, why bother carrying out a proper check? If the contractor spots something they only have to ask, and any faults will be rectified. “Yeah right”.
If the contractor does find a fault during the construction process then the following may be a consequence:
Ask for re-work to be carried out. It may take some persuasion to convince the subcontractor the item in question is not right
Possibly make a change to the main work programme and reschedule follow-on trades
Find alternative work for employees
Possibly suffer a penalty and/or litigation for late completion.
The consequences for the subcontractor can be:
Arrange to return to the site if the particular skilled person for the work has left
Fix the fault which may now be difficult because other subsequent work has been carried out by others
Suffer the loss of time which could have been put to good use on other projects
Possibly change the schedule for other contracts or find a way not to delay time programmes on these contracts
Give the company a bad name, not only with the head contractor but other subcontractors and the principal for whom the contract is being carried out
Suffer loss of profit.
It is obvious that it is much better to take that little extra time to avoid all this in the first place.
I have found, like health and safety, that achieving quality is an ongoing battle in the building industry. Some tradespeople see something wrong but don’t care, or think it’s someone else’s problem and that it’s not up to them to “pot” another employee.
Even worse are those that never see it. For this reason it is necessary for someone with a sharp eye to continually carry out inspections during construction and not wait for the architect/engineer to pick it up during their defects inspection at practical completion.
To rectify a defect once a contract is handed over becomes extremely diffi cult, time consuming and costly. It is money off your bottom line, and carrying out remedial work is also demoralising for staff, particularly to those not involved initially.
Minimising or even eliminating re-work should be seen to be the norm. A vastly improved attitude to quality would bring about a more cost effective industry.
Only by subscribing to the principles of quality assurance can we ensure that quality is consistent to meet the increased demands of our customers today and in the future. We must all focus on customer satisfaction and continual improvement.
By world standards, 99.9% is no longer good enough. Customers can and should insist on defect-free goods and services — why shouldn’t they? Consider this (all figures from 1986).
One hour of unsafe drinking water a month
Four unsafe landings of jumbo jets each year
540 pieces of mail lost every hour
250 newborn babies dropped by doctors each year
12 parts missing on every new vehicle
13,250 stubbies a day that are unfit to drink.
Clearly, there are many businesses where only 100% quality is adequate. Close enough is not good enough.