Quality Assurance (QA) is based on the principles of getting things right first time.
This is also the key objective of the changes that will occur to the Building Act next year. Furthermore, with the introduction of licensing for builders, having a sound QA practice in place will help you retain your license, particularly those who will be supervising non-licensed builders.
The dissatisfaction experienced by the industry’s clients has seen QA lacking over a long period of time as a consequence of the leaky homes saga. An increasing number of companies are also frustrated by the inadequacy of systems which, however valiantly they try, leaves their efforts lacking in some regard.
When one looks at how the sector has changed over the past couple of decades, something of a revolution has occurred in the construction of buildings from what was a craft process (with the builders doing most of the work) to one of the assembly of parts.
This is where the critical work of connecting interdependent units is carried out, not infrequently, by semi-skilled labour from a number of separate employers.
Construction is not alone in this revolution. One need only look at how cars are now assembled and maintained. A high degree of specialisation and mechanics replace entire parts/units as opposed to how it used to be done.
This makes great demands upon supervision and management systems. A quality system is designed to provide an assurance — not only to the client but to the owner of the building company — that contracts will be completed on time, within budget and to the required standard.
It should also further ensure that the personnel, subcontractors and key suppliers are aware of their obligations, and that they are fully met.
It is essential to the system that encouragement is given to each employee to develop and maintain an attitude of continuing improvement and customer satisfaction, and that there are documented records that support the process.
QA is concerned with developing and planning the necessary technical and supervisory competence to achieve desired results. It is about attitudes of management and all those for whom they are responsible, and it will play an ever increasing role going forward in providing LBPs with a degree of comfort when signing off and supervising work.
So look closely at how you run your business and what improvements you can make to your oversight and quality assurance to let you sleep better at night.
Such systems become increasingly important when times are busy and are more remote. You will be relying more and more on new staff/contractors to get it right, so just how are you going to do that?
It has been a difficult year for the construction sector, and next year may be similar. While the Canterbury earthquake remedial work and weathertightness funding will provide a much needed shot in the arm for 2011, these do not reflect the general poor state of our sector and the very slow, fragile economic recovery.
So keep your belts tight ‘cos as sure as night follows day there will be a pick up at some stage . . . I wish I could tell you when!
I must pass on our sincere condolences to all those associated with the Pike River mine disaster. RMBs’ thoughts and prayers are with you all at this extremely difficult time.
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. Best wishes.