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When you ask Owners what their top priorities for their next construction project, quality control is always near the top if not at the top.  With the slow down in the economy the concerns over budget are less than before and given that no one is too busy, the schedule takes care of itself.

So what is quality control?  Simple, the management of the end quality of the product.  However, let's remember that this will be judged by the Owner, so it will be seen from the eyes (and filter) of the Owner.  What they view as quality is different than what you may view as quality and likewise what the Architect, General Contractor, and Engineer.  A good example of this is to walk a project and look at the ceilings of the mechanical or electrical rooms.  When good craftsmen build the project the duct work is in perfect condition, all of the lines run perfectly parallel to grid lines, and couplings are all facing the same direction and are at the same location.  But do you think the Owner views this as important to quality?  Yes they may be happy about the overall look of the rooms, but it probably does not add much value to them.

To begin figuring out what is required for quality control, you must first define quality.  This should be done via the drawings and specifications on the project, but we are all experienced enough to know that sometimes these documents are not specific enough to define all of the required quality.  I encourage you to have discussions with the stakeholders in the project to find out their "hot buttons" or their keys to quality.  With a good definition of quality, you will understand how to manage and control that quality.

As Contractors, our image and the ability to get repeat business is based on references.  For Owners the ability to provide a quality product is key to that end means.  If you start out each problem in control of quality and actually manage the process you can affect the Owner's requirements to ensure they fit the industry standards for means and methods.  For example in residential construction, it is typically acceptable that outlets are within one and 1/2 feet of the dimensioned location because of the location of studs.  If you are in control of the quality and go to the Owner, you can find the outlets where the location is actually very critical and place them precisely as shown and then be able to place the others adjacent to a stud.  If you are not managing the quality of the project, you can have an Owner that will demand all outlets to be as shown on the drawings.  Whether you win this discussion, get paid to move these, or lose the argument, the Owner will feel your quality is poor even though it is within industry standards.

For quality control, there is one simple rule: Be in Control!

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through