Quality management / monitoring can prevent corners being cut and ensure compliance with the building contract
John McGuinness, Associate Director at Thomas & Adamson:
Quality management / monitoring is fast becoming one of the most crucial aspects of any property development project. Whilst most – if not every – project is unique in scope and scale, each one requires high standards of monitoring and control to be adhered to in order to stand-up to the current regulations, health and safety requirements and the layers of protection that are required to ensure buildings are safe.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working at Europe’s most radioactive site at Chernobyl, or a residential build-to-rent development in Glasgow, every project requires robust oversight, stringent budget management and clear and concise communication to ensure it remains on time and on budget.
The release of the ‘Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Construction of Edinburgh Schools’ (The Cole Report) in 2017, identified the importance of independent scrutiny within the construction process. This has led to the role of quality management becoming increasingly important. Moreover, we are seeing recognition that a different approach is essential to ensure a quality construction.
How a developer structures its approach to managing quality varies from firm to firm. It can include appointment of an independent ‘quality manager’, the use of a clerk of works, or a combination of both. The extent of the role will vary depending on the form of contract but is particularly important for the construction of high-specification developments in both the commercial sector, such as residential, hotel properties, or the public sector – schools or healthcare projects – or indeed projects that are following any form of design and build procurement route.
Involving the right blend consultants with a specific quality management remit during the construction phase, ensures that the design is correctly interpreted and is implemented properly by the construction methods deployed. Such a consultant can provide an ongoing risk assessment of the quality aspects, highlighting potential issues before they become a costly problem. Just last summer there were calls for a full public inquiry into how a £335m hospital in Liverpool was built to the point of near completion – but filled with faults and serious safety issues in the build – that would have put patients and staff in real physical danger. This is a very relevant example of how the snagging process can be time-consuming and costly, and something that should not be dismissed as a final detail of the construction process.
Involvement of a quality manager throughout the construction stage goes beyond the physical checking of construction works. It is important to recognise that delivering a high-quality property development requires full engagement of the entire project team. The engagement of an independent quality manager helps establish a culture of quality throughout the project and ultimately ensure the investment is safeguarded by guaranteeing full compliance with the quality aspects of the contract.
Building a Safer Future
Regulatory systems can often be unnecessarily complex. However, this is about developers and end-users taking responsibility, and reacting to lessons learned from recent events. Good practice is to tailor the quality management services to suit the project, the specific needs of the client, the procurement route and the structure and competence of the design/consultancy team.
It is also important to understand the practical implications of the site delivery phase, in addition to the robust understanding of the contractual terms, project processes and the often complex, interrelationships between the many parties involved in the construction process. It is therefore helpful to have a team that comprises individuals who bring a blend of skills and experience, including:
• sector specialisms, including hotel, residential, education and healthcare;
• experience across a wide range of contract types, including DBFM, design and build and traditional.
• a specialist in-house M&E team, who understand the unique design, construction and commissioning requirements of complex M&E installations.
The role of quality manager has become essential. Whilst we have been delivering this service for some time, our role continues to evolve in line with the increasing complexity of the industry.
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