Construction defect management during the defects and liability period.
Construction defect management, snags, and punch lists are a growing area of concern for construction project managers. With thousands of records to manage, effective cloud-based systems and apps are an invaluable tool to simplify and control this complex and time-consuming process. However, you need to ask yourself “what is the objective in managing defects”? Is the objective to better administer the defects, snagging or punch list process or is the real objective to have zero defects at handover.
Many clients see zero defects at handover as a measure of effective quality control and in some cases mandate this as a pre-requisite for completion payments. Unfortunately, many contractors see defects as a free quality control service provided by their clients and consultants or as a problem for their sub-contractors.
How to achieve zero construction defects
If Zero Defects is the objective then the question is how to achieve this? A good start is to look at how project safety is managed. If the goal is zero accidents, then to achieve this we look at risks and analysis of accident data such as cause and effect. From this, we implement preventive measures to reduce the risk of re-occurrence of accidents. The same principles apply if we want to achieve zero defects at handover. Yet, when was the last time anybody looked at the defects data to develop ways to improve the process for the next job?
A quick summary of the project stats were –
- Major commercial/retail development project – $200m+
- 2500 ‘issues’ raised.
- 2/3 of the issues were classed as ‘Defects’
- 1/3 were classed as ‘In-complete works’
- 25% of the total issues raised related to 3 sub-contractors
- 5% of issues were located on the roof level and 28% were on the ground level
- The volume of defects certainly confirmed the need to use a system to manage the process, with the ability to apply different data codes for reporting
- The use of a cloud-based system to capture ‘In-complete works’ was a sound approach by the project team to reduce the risk of future defects, however, it would have been better if 2/3 were in-complete works (preventive) vs 1/3 as defects
- If the organisation was serious about achieving zero defects then a change in future sub-contractor procurement would certainly be an improvement
- The data did tell us the location however not the relative risk or the cause of the defect eg, design, product or installation
Tips for Zero Defects
- Use a cloud-based defect software in a way that you can effectively measure performance and target areas of risk and cause for future improvement
- Use defect, snagging and punch list data from the software the same way major manufacturers use this to improve product quality and reduce warranty costs
- Develop a consistent approach across all projects so you can compare data and develop credible benchmarks
- Treat the process of managing defects the same as you would site safety, as a means to achieve zero defects
- Use your defect data to identify poor performance as a means to improve future procurement and quality for your next project