A construction inspection checklist (also known as an inspection form) is like a road map. Both are condensed, thumbnail sketches of the real world … incomplete but highly useful. A road map can’t show every trail, tree, hill and house … If it did, it wouldn’t be useful. They are memory aids and save brainpower. Inspection checklists forms are much the same.
However, they are also much more … inspection checklists are critical quality control tools for the entire construction industry.
Here are 5 ways to use inspection checklists to improve construction quality:
Inspection forms list critical quality concerns from a variety of stakeholders. Used to build consensus among all parties for the most important items to be done right and your inspection checklists will improve the success of the project.
For example, let’s say you are building a regional shopping mall, with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. As the general manager, owner, or general contractor you manage work being done by dozens of general contractors and perhaps hundreds of sub contractors. All have a serious interest in the quality of work being done. And, each has a unique expertise in his or her field.
By building consensus on the top checkpoints for your inspection forms and using them throughout your project, you'll communicate information that's critical to the project's success.
As contractors begin their phases of work, they can review their checklists for important items to remember. At the end, contractors should close out their tasks by verifying that they have completed each checkpoint.
Below is an example of a checklist for concrete reinforcing that is included with our Concrete Contractor Quality Plans.
NOTE: Our checklists have about 10 or 15 heightened awareness checkpoints that list the most important items to check. I don’t recommend more because that would dilute the importance of your top priority items.
Click on this link to see inspection checklist form examples from 16 CSI MasterSpec Divisions.
Record of Compliance Verification
In addition to heightened awareness checkpoints, checklists should verify compliance to quality control policies and procedures. Sign-off of a checklist should occur only when the work complies with all of the relevant specifications. Other interested parties and stakeholders that inspect the completed work should use a similar approach for their purposes.
Once completed, checklists can be a permanent record that critical details have been followed and the overall work conforms to specifications. Archived, they have legal (forensic) applications and can serve as exhibits in courts of law that demonstrate diligent quality controls were in place, even it there was a failure.
Click on this link and download a Free Blank Inspection Form Template to create your own.
Identify Issues for Improvement
Any stakeholder can use the same inspection form to inspect the work. In essence, the completed inspection form is the voice of each inspector — each stakeholder that performs an inspection. It identifies gaps between their expectations and what they have found during their inspection.
Superintendents and other QC personnel can use the same checklists that contractors and works crews used. Except this time, they’re using the checklist to record the 2nd time quality items they have found. And later, verify that those items have been fixed.
Tracking 2nd time quality checkpoints over time provides insight into how often a problem occurs and who the responsible contractor is. This information is the basis for targeting problems and making changes for improvement.
Checklists also track the frequency of problems. So, once you've made some changes, you can see if your changes result in actual improvement.
General managers, owners, and general contractors can use checklist data for deciding which subcontractors provided the best ROI. An example might be: “This company was cheaper and did acceptable work, but quality issues held up other job phases for 8 days. We should have taken another bid.”
The construction manager who made this decision may never have met the subcontractor or seen the subcontractor's work. Your inspection report tells the story and the manager can make the decision at his desk, looking at a computer screen.
Subcontractor company owners can use the inspection report data to monitor work crew performance and make improvements before poor performance impacts future work opportunities.
While some people will successfully get where they want to go without using a map, construction companies won’t be as successful without using inspection checklists.
Whether you choose to use paper or mobile/web inspection checklists, it’s clear, using construction inspection checklists will help you improve quality and the success of your project.
About the Author - Ed Caldeira is founder of First Time Quality, LLC, specializing in quality plans and construction quality inspection/punchlist software.