The enormous growth in residential and commercial construction might suffer from quality issues, according to Quality Built, LLC, a firm that offers quality assurance and risk management support to the construction industry. Quality Built’s construction defect data bank is the largest in the nation. That, along with their quality assurance program, makes them one of the “Big Data” authorities for the construction industry.
Brian Kramer, P.E. and C.E.O. of Quality Built, says the firm’s available data indicates that “construction [is] continuing to grow at a rate that is nearing long-term averages on a national scale…while at the same time approach[ing], if not nearing, “boom levels” in certain markets.” In areas with significant construction activity, there seems to be “little that will slow demand for new construction as low-interest rates, available capital, and strong demand from lack of construction during the post boom years,” and these conditions are driving market demand for residential and commercial construction.
But, Kramer, explains, these boom trends bring a spike in risk that needs to be properly managed. In their recently published white paper report, “A Decade in Construction Inspections,” it was revealed that the quality levels for construction for all asset classes had reached its lowest point just as the real estate market began to recover from the depths of the recession. The report identified a “perfect storm” of factors which contribute to the current situation. Builders are under increasing pressure to meet difficult delivery demands with shorter deadlines and tighter budget controls, and the in-house quality assurance programming is often sacrificed to meet budget and time constraints. The recession drove a roughly 40% of the skilled and experienced trades professionals out of the industry, leading to the current shortage of experienced, qualified labor and field management personnel. The tighter budget and time constraints squeezing quality assurance endeavors out of the planning and building process, along with the lack of builders skilled in producing high-quality work, has resulted in the “perfect storm” of otherwise preventable construction defects and lower construction quality across the board.
To meet this powerful need in the construction industry, Quality Built has specifically designed its quality assurance and risk management program to meet the needs of today’s market. Quality Built president Beth Michaels explains that the firm has responded to the current crisis “by expanding our risk assessment protocols to integrate educational programs, trade contractors and internal QA metrics into a closed-loop process guaranteed to promote continuous improvement in a cost-effective manner.” Additionally, Quality Built’s 3rd-party quality assurance program offers “a second set of eyes in the field,” to aid with “quality assurance inspections and technical peer plan reviews,” in addition to offering “web-based technical training on construction defects and how to avoid them,” with programs tailored to meet the individual needs of the builders.