Increasing or Decreasing Quality in Construction Term Paper

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Decreasing Quality in Construction

In the modern Western world, quality construction is generally taken for granted. Although it was once expected that each member of a town or village participate in construction. few people today are involved in the building of their own homes. Only a small percentage of the population is involved in the construction of the roads on which the majority of the population drives. It is a vast minority of people that have played any part in the creation of the structures in which they live, work, or shop. To the average person, there is little connection made mentally between the solid floors supporting his or her weight many stories above the ground, or the protective roof keeping out the elements overhead, and the actual labor which was put into these things. If the construction process is flawless, then no one will have to think about it once completed. However, if the quality of the project is not high, people will not only think about the construction, but also be rightfully upset. "Construction industry makes the evening news only when there are accidents and off-schedule projects. The success of a new highway bridge or a new ball park stadium are typically not celebrated." (Chini, et all, 1999) Poor quality in construction can lead to defects that can be hazardous. Quality in construction is the goal of every dedicated worker involved in a project, however many factors pose a risk to the overall quality of construction. Inferior materials and a shortage of skilled workers are two major problems facing the construction industry today. Comprehensive programs must be put into place to insure quality construction.

The existence of a construction defect is a sign of failure somewhere within the construction process, and can have serious safety and legal ramifications. "Construction defects could range from complex foundation and framing issues, which threaten the structural integrity of buildings, to aesthetic issues such as improperly painted surfaces and deteriorating wood trim around windows and doors." (C-Risk 2001) There are four major categories of construction defects: design deficiencies, Subsurface or Geotechnical Problems, Poor Quality or Substandard Workmanship, and Material Deficiencies. Inferior materials is an important factor to consider, because even if the materials are installed or used properly, they may be defective or malfunction. For example, a poorly designed and manufactured window may leak or stick in the frame, despite being installed by skilled workers. Common problems that are found in homes constructed with inferior materials include deteriorating flashing, leaking through asphalt shingles, and short-lived wall products in damp areas like the bathroom. In recent years there has been a lot of concern raised over poorly manufactured construction materials. In 2003, for example, a lot of press coverage was given to the inferior construction products being manufactures in China. The State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, along with other government agencies, cracked down on "fake and inferior construction products, involving steel, cement, low-voltage electrical equipment, wire, cables and decoration materials." ("China..." 2003) Over 300 steel plants were reprimanded for producing low quality steel products for construction. Attempting to cut cost corners, of course, is often the cause for inferior material production. In the cases of these steel plants, for example, waste steel was being used to produce construction materials. "Last year, the administration banned 480 such plants from operating, confiscating 99,000 tons of inferior steel products worth 211 million yuan (nearly 30 million U.S. dollars)." ("China..." 2003) Of course, recycling materials for use in construction is a method with high potential for quality and cost efficiency, however "refurbished" raw materials must be selected with scrutiny and the entire process infused with dedication to high standards.

In addition to material deficiencies, substandard workmanship is also a serious concern for the construction industry. There has been an ongoing battle to combat a shortage of quality trades people in construction, and not having skilled workers has a very negative effect on overall quality. "Changes in vocational education and technology coupled with varied economic conditions and a shift toward open shop contracting have lured or forced away many of the industry's skilled trades person and steered away younger people in search of employment in construction." (Chini et al., 1999) This gap in the labor pool is depriving many construction projects of the presence of workers who take pride in their work, workers who possess great mechanical skill and knowledge. The Skilled construction worker will have specialized and complete understanding of…[continue]

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