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The better QA system

quality assurance in construction
02-Jul-2024 15:46:049 min read

Quality assurance in construction: Everything you need to know

What is quality assurance?

Construction Quality Assurance (QA) is a systematic and proactive approach aimed at preventing defects and optimising processes throughout the construction project life cycle. It establishes a quality management system which involves policies, procedures, and standards that guide the project from planning to completion.

The primary goal of QA is to ensure that construction processes are carried out correctly and efficiently to meet client expectations and industry standards.

Why quality assurance matters

In the world of construction, where the stakes are as high as the structures built, the importance of Quality Assurance (QA) cannot be overstated. QA in construction is the blueprint for error-free building, ensuring that each project not only meets but exceeds the rigorous standards of safety, durability, and client specifications.

{Need a better way to carry out quality assurance on your construction projects? Discover Sablono's quality assurance software to help you get it right first time. Learn more here.}

quality assurance construction


Quality assurance (QA) vs quality control(QC)

While often considered in tandem due to their complementary functions, Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) each play distinct, critical roles within the construction industry. Understanding the differences and how they interact can greatly enhance the overall quality and success of construction projects.

Quality Assurance: preventative measures

QA is a process-oriented approach that focuses on preventing defects before they occur by establishing, monitoring, and maintaining standards to be followed during the construction process. This proactive aspect of quality management involves:

  • Setting standards and protocols: QA defines the standards and methodologies that need to be adhered to throughout the project to avoid deviations that might lead to defects or failures.
  • Process improvement: Continuous evaluation and improvement of processes are central to QA. This might involve updating training programs, integrating new technologies, and refining project management practices.
  • Planned and systematic actions: Implementing QA requires planned and systematic actions across every stage of the construction process. These actions are designed to ensure that the project will satisfy the relevant quality standards.

The primary goal of QA is to enhance work processes, reduce waste, and prevent errors through a well-defined framework and proactive practices.


Quality Control: corrective approaches

On the other hand, QC is a product-oriented approach that involves inspecting and testing the construction outputs to identify and correct defects in the finished product. QC is reactive, aiming to detect and fix issues after they have occurred. Key aspects of QC include:

  • Inspection and testing: Regular inspections and testing at various stages of the construction project are essential. These help in identifying any discrepancies from the client or industry standards.
  • Identification of faults: QC focuses on identifying and documenting defects in materials, workmanship, or the final product. This process ensures that the final output is defect-free and functional as per the design specifications.
  • Corrective actions: Once defects are identified, immediate corrective actions are taken to rectify them. This could involve reworking or replacing elements that do not meet the quality standards.

QC is crucial as it ensures that the construction project meets the quality standards set by both the clients and industry regulators despite the best preventative strategies of QA.

The synergistic relationship between QA and QC

While QA and QC serve different purposes, they are interconnected and dependent on each other for the successful delivery of construction projects:

  • QA sets the groundwork for QC by establishing processes that ease the identification and correction of defects.
  • Feedback from QC can lead to improvements in QA processes, ensuring fewer defects in future projects.
  • Together, both QA and QC not only ensure a defect-free final product but also enhance customer satisfaction and reduce costs associated with delays and reworks caused by quality issues.

By implementing both QA and QC, construction projects can achieve higher standards, maintain compliance with regulations, and meet or exceed client expectations. In essence, while QA and QC are distinct in their approach - preventive versus corrective - their roles are complementary, ensuring the highest standards of construction excellence are achieved.

 qa in construction

Quality assurance principles

At the heart of QA are principles designed to guide construction projects towards achieving optimal quality results that meet or exceed the project requirements and expectations. This includes "Fit for Purpose" and "Right First Time".

Fit for Purpose

The principle of "Fit for Purpose" requires that every aspect of a construction project is designed, implemented, and delivered to fulfil the intended function and requirements. It goes beyond the basic compliance with technical specifications to address the suitability of the construction outcome for the planned usage. This means:

  • Understanding client needs: Engaging with the client to comprehensively grasp what they envisage and require from the project.
  • Design efficiency: Ensuring that designs are not just technically sound, but also practical, sustainable, and tailored to meet the end-user requirements.
  • Material selection: Choosing materials not just for their quality and durability, but also for their suitability for the function they are intended to perform.

By adhering to the "Fit for Purpose" principle, it ensures that constructions stand the test of operational utility and relevance, providing real value to the end-users.


Right First Time

The "Right First Time" principle aims at eliminating mistakes, defects, and the need for rework, thereby saving on costs and time while enhancing project efficiency. This principle ingrains a quality-first mindset across the project teams, emphasising:

  • Preventive planning: Detailed and thoughtful planning at every stage to anticipate and mitigate potential issues before they emerge.
  • Skill and knowledge: Ensuring that everyone involved has the necessary skills, training, and resources to perform their tasks correctly.
  • Continuous monitoring and feedback: Establishing checkpoints and review processes to catch deviations early and provide immediate corrections.

By focusing on getting things right the first time, projects can stay on schedule and budget, foster a strong sense of accountability and pride among teams, and ultimately lead to higher-quality outcomes that stand the test of time.

qa construction projects

What are the benefits of quality assurance?

Minimising construction errors and defects

Quality Assurance is the first line of defence against construction errors and defects. By implementing a structured QA program, construction projects benefit from standardised procedures and processes that significantly reduce the likelihood of errors occurring. This proactive approach to quality minimises costly rework, ensures that construction meets all safety and performance standards, and upholds the structural integrity of the building.

Boosting client satisfaction

A direct outcome of fewer construction errors is the increased satisfaction of the client. Quality Assurance guarantees that projects not only meet the agreed specifications but also adhere to the highest industry standards. Through regular communication and transparency, QA processes help in setting realistic expectations and then consistently meeting those expectations, resulting in a trusting and positive client-contractor relationship.

Reducing costs related to reworks and fines

The economic benefits of implementing Quality Assurance protocols are evident. Adhering to QA measures mitigates the need for costly reworks, which can balloon project expenses and extend timelines significantly. Furthermore, ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal building codes through rigorous QA processes reduces the risk of financial penalties and legal issues related to non-compliance, thus safeguarding the project budget and timeline.

quality construction projects

How to ensure quality assurance in your projects

Some key quality assurance processes and strategies include the following:

Development and implementation of QA policies

Creating effective QA policies begins with a deep understanding of the project's specific requirements, the regulatory landscape, and best practices in the construction industry.

These policies should detail every aspect of the construction process, from material selection to worker training, ensuring that every team member knows the standards to which they must adhere.

Implementing these policies requires commitment from all levels of the organisation, regular review processes, and adjustments based on lessons learned and technology advancements.

Regular onsite inspections and audits

Regular on-site inspections and audits are crucial for maintaining the quality standards established by the QA policies.

Inspections should be conducted at various stages of the construction process, utilising checklists tailored to each phase to ensure nothing is overlooked. These inspections can identify potential quality issues early on, allowing for timely corrections that prevent costly rectifications later.

Audits, meanwhile, provide an overarching review of the project’s adherence to QA protocols, offering insights into areas for improvement.

Certification and training for QA compliance on-site

Ensuring that all site personnel are trained in the latest QA and QC practices is fundamental to a project’s success. Investing in certification programs and continuous education for staff not only enhances the quality of work but also fosters a culture of excellence within the organisation.

These training programs should cover the latest construction technologies, materials, and methodologies, ensuring that the team remains at the cutting edge of construction best practices.


quality assurance construction projects - ultimate guide

Technological integration in QA

The integration of technology into QA processes has revolutionised the way quality is managed in construction. Advanced quality assurance software solutions facilitate real-time tracking and management of quality metrics, allowing for immediate adjustments and feedback.

Digital tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) provide a multi-dimensional view of the project, enabling precise planning, detection of potential issues before they occur, and seamless communication between all stakeholders.

The use of drones and AI for regular site inspections can further enhance the accuracy and efficiency of quality assessments, ensuring that excellence is not just a goal, but a reality in every project.


Checklist for implementing QA in construction projects

Pre-Construction Phase:

  • Develop a QA plan tailored to the project’s requirements.
  • Engage in thorough risk assessment and mitigation planning.
  • Ensure all materials, tools, and equipment meet project specifications.

Construction Phase:

  • Conduct daily QA inspections and document findings.
  • Implement corrective actions promptly to manage non-compliance.
  • Hold regular training sessions to reinforce QA protocols.

Post-Construction Phase:

  • Perform final audits to ensure compliance with all project specifications.
  • Collect feedback from all stakeholders to evaluate the QA process.
  • Conduct thorough reviews to document lessons learned and improve future QA plans.

Following this checklist will provide a structured framework for integrating effective QA practices throughout the construction cycle, which helps to facilitate the successful completion of projects.


Using a quality management system (QMS) to ensure quality assurance

sablono construction qa software

Most construction quality management systems focus on quality control. In other words, they help fix existing issues, but they don't help prevent issues from happening in the first place.

Sablono is a true construction quality assurance software solution created to help you prevent quality issues. Our unique platform connects quality and compliance within a workflow to replace reactive snagging with proactive quality management.

Sablono enables you to:

  • Replace ad-hoc quality assurance with detailed pre-defined quality workflows.

  • Attach QA checklists to each activity to ensure that every activity has been carried out with quality standards in mind.

  • Carry out quality assurance as each task is completed on-site rather than relying on snagging at the end of the project.

  • Get connected, real-time data to help you quickly identify and rectify issues.

  • Create a fully accountable, connected digital audit trail of all quality-related data to provide evidence of compliance and protect against claims and disputes.

Learn more about how Sablono can help you get it right first time here: Explore Sablono's construction quality assurance software.