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CIOB Level 4 Certificate


Unit 3 Managing the Quality of Construction Work

3.1 Identifying Quality Systems

3.2 Monitoring Quality

3.3 Sustainability & Quality


Information and Guidance is available from the ‘Student Area’ above.



Assignment for Unit 3




Learning outcome:  On completion the learner will: Know how to identify quality.



An assignment is being used for this Unit.


Details on how to produce the assignment is included on the form, which you should down-load from the column on the left by clicking on "Assignment for Unit 3" and from the “Submitting Assignment” Page from the “Student Area”.





3.1.1 Defining Quality Control

3.1.2 Assessing Quality Requirements

3.1.3 Statutory Documents and Requirements

3.1.4 Conveying Quality Requirements

3.1.5 Financial Implications



Harris, F and McCaffer, R (2006) Modern construction management, 6th edn. Oxford: Blackwell.


3.1.1 Quality Control

Quality control is the collection of duties which are performed to ensure that the product produced conforms to laid down quality standards. To get an overview of Quality Control you should play the Quality control video in the Multi-media box below and the return to the text.

The quality specification will be set at the design stage. Decisions must be made on the method of inspection and how quality is to be maintained, though the process will involve:



  • Setting of standards which all products must attain.
  • Monitoring the standard of the products produced.
  • Assessing and testing the materials used.



All products produced must normally satisfy three criteria:

          1.       That they are fit for a defined purpose.

          2.       That they have the ability to perform as required for a reasonable period of time.

          3.       That they conform to a specified standard.

This is the collection of duties which are performed in order to ensure that the quality objectives are achieved, it is exercised by:


  • Setting of Standards.  These would be laid down in the specification, though these must conform to planning, public health and construction regulations, British Standard (BS) Codes of Practice and any other regulations and byelaws.
  • Monitoring.  This would be carried out by the client's representative and external agents, for example, the Building Control Officer. It would involve site inspections and the use of quality control forms. It would also ensure that work is carried out according to the specification and that all materials delivered to site are of the required standard and not damaged.
  • Assessment.   This will include the testing of materials.




There is always a risk of disagreements over quality for it is easier to define the standards of manufactured products (to conform to BS...) than for the required standard of work on a construction site. It is important, therefore, that standards are defined at the outset so that all parties know exactly what is expected. Price will of course have an important bearing on the standards achieved and consequently on the appearance and quality of the finished building.

Quality is not just concerned with production but all of the processes that involve a business.  The way to achieve this is to:



  • Understand the requirements of the client
  • Understand the internal process which enables you to meet these requirements, and
  • Develop a system and culture that ensures errors are eliminated.





It is important that a system or systems exist within the company to ensure that the requirements with regard to quality are achieved. This means interpreting the requirements of the client and ensuring that all work meets these requirements and the statutory documents related to construction work.



Task 3.1.1 Define Quality Control

In your own words define Quality Control and state the difference between Quality Control and Quality Assurance.

Word Guide:  200 - 300




3.1.2 Assessing Quality Requirements

It is important that you are able to interpret and understand quality requirements. The information relevant to quality will come from a number of sources and the site manager will need to ensure that any work carried out conforms to the requirements specified. It will also enable liaising and discussing quality control matters with other members of the construction team, these will include the Architect, Civil Engineer, Clerk of Works, site staff, tradesmen etc.

The client demands that the finished products, which includes materials and workmanship is of an appropriate acceptable standard which conforms to their requirements.

Companies can spend substantial amounts of time and money carrying out work which is unacceptable to the client, this results in additional time and expense putting things right. By reducing this you will improve profitability and improve competitiveness.


Clients’ (Customers’) Requirements

The client will expect that your products or services conform to their requirements.

Quality is not just concerned with production but all of the processes that involve a business; consequently it will apply equally to people within your own organisation and those receiving a service from you so it is appropriate to look at all everyone who is in receipt of your services as a customer.  The way to achieve this is to:




  • Understand the requirements of your customers
  • Understand the internal process which enables you to meet these requirements, and
  • Develop a system and culture that ensures errors are eliminated.




Companies spend substantial amounts of time and money doing the wrong things and putting things right after they have gone wrong. By reducing this you will improve profitability and improve competitiveness.


Types of Customers

Customers can be categorized as:



  • Internal – these are customers of processes and are within the organisation e.g. Sales Department.
  • External - these are customers of processes and are outside the organisation e.g. Subcontractors.
  • End Users – these receive and pay for the final product e.g. the client.





Customers' Requirements

These are divided into two key areas:


1.    Defined requirements - these must be met by the delivered product or service.  They are often specified in the contract and may include some or all of the following:




    • size, weight, colour, texture
    • functions, reliability, response times and facilities required
    • packaging, labelling, delivery time and methods
    • cost and payment arrangements
    • support required
    • response time to failures.


These are the basic requirements for each product or service.  They are the minimum client requirements which must be met if a product or service is to be considered satisfactory.


2.    Implied requirements - these are unstated, but create an overall perception of your business in the eyes of the client.  It is the little things that show you care for your customer.  These include:



    • Keeping them informed
    • Consideration for their convenience
    • People responding to enquiries/problems. 
    • Visitors made to feel welcome
    • Professional correspondence 
    • Meetings are punctual
    • Information is available if the client has a query.
These factors can make a lasting impression as they project a professional image.

Task 3.1.2 Sources of Information

State the sources that you use in order to obtain information relating to the quality of the construction work to be carried out on a site.

Word Guide:  200 - 300





3.1.3 Statutory Documents and Requirements

A number of statutory documents exist in order to ensure that work is produced according to specified standards. Therefore the site manager will need to be familiar with the following documents in order to ensure that quality is of a required standard according to law, although this is a minimum standard and the standards will vary according to the type of work and client requirements, all of which are set out in the contract documents. Although not statutory documents in respect that they are legislation they are legal documents which are enforceable by law as they form part of the contract in the carrying out of the work. The documents below will provide information and lay down the requirements with regard to quality:

  • Building Regulations
  • British Standards
  • Agrément Certificates
  • Contract Documents
  • Contract Drawings
  • Technical Specifications
  • ISO 9000


Building Regulations

The Building Regulations have developed over the years to ensure the safety of those who come into contact with buildings.

The Building Control Officer will inspect the work during the course of construction in order to ensure that it complies with the requirements. Alternatively, for housing developments the National House Building Council (NHBC) may be used as the approved inspector (someone qualified to carry out the task of confirming that the building is constructed according to the Building Regulations).

Inspection of the work must be carried out by an Approved Inspector who must be informed 48 hours prior to commencement of work. S/he will then require 24 hours notice to inspect at the following stages:


  • Excavation for foundations
  • Foundation concrete placed
  • Damp-proof course in position 
  • Oversite fill material in position
  • Drains laid
  • Drains back filled



This will ensure that the work meets the required standard. The inspector may use visual inspection to confirm compliance or they may, as in the case of drainage, carry out tests.

If an Approved Inspector is used S/he will submit an initial notice to the Local Authority with the drawings and evidence of insurance. If the Local Authority accepts the notice it becomes the Approved Inspectors not the Local Authority who are responsible for the enforcement of the regulations. On satisfactory completion the Inspector issues a certificate to the developer and the Local Authority.


British Standards Institution (BSI)

This was set up in 1929 to co-ordinate the efforts of all manufacturers and people associated with the use of products. It lays down standards for the improvement, standardization and simplification of all materials.  It also lays down standards of quality and dimensions.

There are five kinds of documents produced by the BSI which are:


  1. British Standards – These were initial product specifications, but now they include schedules, methods of testing, basic data.  The standards are laid down to ensure that quality, performance and usability of components are met, and also lays down preferred forms of a product and properties of a finished article, and method of testing for verifying that the standard has been achieved. There are BS standards for most of the functions and products related to the construction industry.


  1. Codes of Practice – These are recommendations for good practice to be followed during design, manufacture, construction, installation and maintenance with regard to safety, quality, economy and fitness for purpose.


  1. Draft Documents – These are used before British Standards are issued where firm standards cannot be issued due to the lack of information on the introduction of a new idea of subject. They are intended to be used for a limited period until sufficient data is collected to enable experience, knowledge and usage to contribute to the production of a British Standard.


  1. Published Documents – These are publications used until sufficient information is obtained; they are normally used for subjects which cannot fit into other group categories.


  1. Drafts for Comment – These are issued when the BSI is convinced that a subject is important enough to provide resources to look into the preparation of a BS. Anyone can request a new standard and the Institution will then produce a number of drafts for comments. Once these have been considered a British Standard can be introduced.


Agrément Certificates

The British Board of Agrément is a government sponsored organisation which is also financed by the manufacturers of new products.  The manufacturers obtain an independent test certificate from the Board which will when approached will test the product. The certificate is widely recognized and accepted by industry.


ISO 9000

ISO 9000 is:


  • An internationally accepted standard relating to a quality system. Also known as BS5750 in Britain or EN29000 in Europe.
  • It is a formal management system which is adapted by individual companies to meet their needs.
  • It has been broken down into a number of headings to enable it to be easily and efficiently implemented.
  • It is flexible enough to enable it to be implemented by any type of organisation.

Task 3.1.3 Legislation

Outline the legislation that relates to quality of work produced within the construction industry.

Word Guide:  300 – 400


3.1.4 Conveying Quality Requirements



Having determined the quality requirements you will need to ensure that these are conveyed to all those who will be involved with the delivery of the work.

It is imperative that quality requirements are conveyed to all the members of the team and that all workers fully understand the standards that are demanded. These standards relate to:



  • Appearance. The appearance must be acceptable to the client according to the use of the building and the people that will be using it.  If the building is to be a 5* hotel it will need to be more aesthetically pleasing than if it is to be used for storage. This is the area where most disagreements can occur as what look good to one person may not to another.
  • Performance. The project must be able to perform to the standard that is required of it. If it can’t do that it is not acceptable.  It must be ‘fit for purpose’.
  • Structural soundness. This is a case of either it is or it is not and obviously it must be structurally sound.
  • Dimensional accuracy. Tolerance will be determined which will depend on client requirements or working practice. These are easy to assess.







Quality must consider:




  • Performance – Considers what it must do.
  • Reliability – It must be able to perform for a reasonable period of time without failure.
  • Conformance – This is the degree to which specification is met.
  • Durability – This is the length of time a product lasts before it needs to be replaced.
  • Serviceability – looks at the service that the product gives, the amount of repair that may be needed and the time taken to repair.
  • Aesthetics – This is how the product looks and feels.
  • Perceived quality – This can be subjective judgement that results from image.

It is essential that all craftsmen are appropriately trained and qualified and also that they are briefed as to what the client requires. Failure to ensure that this happens can lead to work not being accepted and the redoing of work. It can also result in litigation something which it is advisable to avoid.  All these will result in costs which can reduce the profit for a contract.

Ensuring that the work is of an appropriate quality is the job of all people involved in the construction process. Each worker should be aware of what is acceptable and any work that does not meet that standard must be redone.  The way it is monitored is through the supervisors, site managers, clerk of work and architect/project manager.


3.1.5 Financial Implications

An effective quality system can significantly reduce operating costs.  Businesses waste as much as 25% of turnover on ineffective or inefficient processes which result in errors and waste.

One of the main factors in determining a supplier is the quality of the delivery of the product or service; it is the quality of the relationship with the customer that is important.

Quality costs are viewed as those incurred in excess of those that would have been incurred if the product were produced right first time.  Costs are not only direct but those resulting from lost customers, lost market share and other hidden costs.  Cost are not measured as the cost of rebuilding or scrapping but the extra over cost that is incurred based on what the cost would have been if everything had been built correctly the first time

The cost of quality measured against zero defects can be classified into four categories:


  1. Prevention - these are costs which remove or prevent defects from occurring eg quality planning and training.
  2. Appraisal – costs that are incurred to identify poor quality products after they occur but before shipment to customers eg inspection costs.
  3. Internal failure – costs incurred during the production process and include scrapping and rebuilding costs.
  4. External failure – these are the costs of rejected or returned work and include the hidden costs of customer dissatisfaction.



Task 3.1.4 Meeting Quality Requirements

Explain how your company ensures that quality requirements are met.

Word Guide:  300 - 400




Section Complete

You have now completed this section of Unit 3. You may now move on to the next Section by clicking on the L4-3.2 Monitoring Quality link below.





L4-3.2 Monitoring Quality





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