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CIOB Level 3 Diploma
CIOB Level 4 Certificate

Unit 3 Managing the Quality of Construction Work

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Assignment for Unit 3




Learning outcome:  On completion the learner will: Know how to operate and maintain systems to monitor quality of work




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”.



3.2.1 Identifying and Correcting Defects

3.2.2 Quality Management Systems

3.2.3 Quality Plans

3.2.4 Testing



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

3.2.1 Identifying and Correcting Defects

Part of the system to monitor the quality of work is to identify the areas where defects can occur and to instigate measures which address the problems that can result in these areas. It also involves the assessment and rectification of any faults that are found.  They key thing is that all quality standards meet the requirements specified in statutory documents and in the contract.


Conforming to Contract

A number of clauses in the Conditions of Contract have an influence in the way that work is carried out and the quality of the finished project.

The contract will specify that the work must comply with all statutory regulations and the specification of the work should result in a building that achieves the required standards and quality.  The contract also provides for inspection of the work, goods and the materials both on and off site.  The contractor is responsible for ensuring that competent tradesmen are employed.

A clause covers levels and setting out of the work and for the uncovering of work for inspection if the architect feels that is necessary.


Setting out

In order to set out correctly the architect should provide the contractor with all the necessary information in order to set out correctly.  This will be in the way of dimensioned drawings and levels. Provided the dimensions are correct, the contractor is responsible for ensuring the building is set out correctly and he would be liable for any errors.


Work, Materials and Goods

This clause in the contract ensures that the quality of materials and workmanship will conform to the contract bills and relates to the information contained in the BofQ. The contractor must, if required to do so, prove that the materials being used are in accordance with the specified requirements.

Proof of materials can be shown by producing invoices or by tests which would be specified in the contract bill.  If the architect requires tests which are not specified in the contract bills these must be carried out by the contractor, the cost of which would be added to the contract sum.

The architect has the power to request the inspection or test of any part of the work up to the issue of the final certificate.  This may require the contractor to open up the works for inspection or testing.  The cost of opening up the work will be borne by the contractor if the inspection or tests show it is not in accordance with the contract. If it is in accordance then the cost will be added to the contract sum.

The architect also may require materials that do not conform to the contract to be removed from site and be replaced by those that do, the cost of this would be borne by the contractor.  There is no time limit for defect materials to be discovered.


Assessing, Recording and Resolving Work Problems

It is normal to have some form of procedure which will assess the work carried out. This will involve periodic checks as the work progresses and on completion such as ‘snagging’.  The procedure will have predetermined factors to look at which will be recorded on an assessment form. In the event of something not being acceptable a procedure will be in place to bring it to the attention of the person responsible in order that they can rectify it.

It is always worth considering why the work is not acceptable and then at how the problem can be rectified. Some common problems are listed in the table below together with suggested solutions.



Common Quality Problem

Suggested Solutions


Staff make mistakes because they have not been probably trained.

Ensure that everyone knows what their job is and how to do it.

Different people make the same product in their own way, causing variations in product quality.

Adopt best practice in doing a job and constantly use it.

People produce the wrong goods because they are using an out-of-date specification.

Ensure that everyone uses the current version of a document

Mistakes are made because the right person wasn’t involved in a decision.

Specify who will be responsible for quality.

Different departments do not talk to each other.

Ensure communication and co-operation between staff.

People don’t see quality as their responsibility.

Place responsibility for quality on those who produce the product.

Faulty products are delivered to the customer.

Carry out proper inspection checks.

When found, mistakes go uncorrected, and the same mistakes are regularly made.

Analyse product faults, correct them, and try to prevent them happening again.


Task 3.2.1 Assessing Quality

Outline the system of inspection that should be used by an organisation and state how the outcome is recorded.

Word Guide:  300 – 400


3.2.2 Quality Management Systems (QMS)

The Objectives of a Quality Management System is to organise a business so all the factors affecting the quality of the product or service produce are under control. The QMS defines the quality environment within a business. Every business is different and so each QMS will be unique. The system must:


  • be based on understanding your business, your customers and their requirements
  • be management led
  • involve all employees in its implementation
  • focus on preventing errors rather than merely detecting and correcting them
  • be able to evolve as the company changes.


The system embraces all areas of the organisation: marketing, contract acceptance, tendering, product design, production, delivery, service, finance and administration. The object is to ensure that only products or services that conform to the quality standards reach the customer.

Customers are increasingly expecting that their suppliers operate a QMS to provide assurance that they will only receive products or services that conform.  The independent approval of a company's QMS to an internationally recognised standard such as ISO9000 demonstrates provides evidence of this.

An effective Quality Management System will improve business performance because you will:


  • understand your customers requirements
  • know how to satisfy their requirements
  • understand how to organise and control your business to minimise errors and waste
  • improve profitability and competitiveness.


Quality is defined by the customer therefore you need to:


  • Determine what the customer wants
  • Produce what they want in the time frame at minimum cost



Quality is not only concerned with whether a product or service meets the claims for it but also the customers’ perception of the business. This is based on the product or service and on the day-to-day contact he has with your staff.  Quality concerns how you meet all your customers requirements including how they are greeted on the telephone or office, the speed in which they receive a reply and in ensuring that letters or invoices are correct. Everyone must be involved.

Quality not only concerns the costs related to product or services failure, which involves rework and indemnity or warranty claims, but also administration, excessive debtor days or when customer requirements haven't been fully determined.

An investment in prevention activities such as planning, effective procedures, training or equipment maintenance can reduce the cost of failure and appraisal costs.

The benefits of implementing a successful Quality Management System (QMS) are:


  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Elimination of errors and waste
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Increased motivation and commitment from employees
  • Increased profitability and competitiveness.



Benefits of a QMS

An approved QMS demonstrates that the company is committed to quality and that it is able to:



  • Identify the requirements of its customers
  • Ensure it is able to supply products and services in accordance with those requirements
  • Ensure delivered products conform to those requirements.




The standards only define what must be controlled, not how control is to be achieved.

The following are typical of the benefits of a well planned QMS:



  • Satisfied and loyal customers due to goods or services always being produced according to requirements
  • Reduced operating costs as waste is eliminated or reduced and efficiency increased as a result of eliminating non-conformance.
  • Improved competitiveness and profitability as operating costs are reduced
  • Improved morale as employees develop greater understanding of the business, are able to work efficiently, and are involved managing their working environment.





Benefits of External Assessment and Registration

You do not need external assessment though it does have a number of benefits:



  • It provides evidence that a QMS has been implemented, important as a marketing tool in some situations.
  • Most customers accept and recognise ISO9000 approval.
  • Provides evidence of a responsible attitude to quality.




Managers must ensure:


  • The quality aims are understood by everyone
  • There is a commitment to quality
  • Workers are encouraged to ensure work is carried out to the requirements.


Quality standards do not specify any technical requirements for a product or service.  They only cover the requirements of the management system.  They are therefore complimentary to any technical standards which may apply.

A company is successful because it understands the marketplace and customer requirements.  They succeed because they are able to provide products or services which meet their customers’ requirements and make a profit.

Care must be taken to ensure that the company doesn't implement a QMS just to gain ISO9000 registration as this will not benefit them but will just introduce bureaucracy which will develop into a liability.

The task of a manager is to ensure processes are controlled so they produce outputs which are within the acceptable limits in order that the customer requirements are met.



Task 3.2.2 Quality Management Systems

Explain why a Quality Management System would be used by a construction company.

Word Guide:  300 – 400





3.2.3 Quality Plans

A quality plan can be produced to define:




  • working methods and procedures
  • standards for deliverables
  • standards for supervision and review
  • project checkpoints
  • user involvement.





The plan is used to improve and assure the quality of the project and will involve the following:


  • Setting Objectives.  Set out what you want to achieve and the standard of quality that you expect from the product or service that you are trying to produce or the initiative that you are undertaking.
  • Assessment. Determine how these objectives will be assessed and how you will confirm that the requirements have been achieved. The objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART).
  • Quality plan: The plan puts in place quality assurance processes to ensure that the desired quality is achieved and tests to provide evidence. Quality planning should demonstrate that the outputs meet the objectives and criteria in a straightforward and neutral way.
  • Implementation: This lays down what is to be done, by whom and when.
  • Evaluation: Measure the success of what you set out to do. For a project or programme, this tends to relate to achievements, outcomes, what was learned and how this changes things. 



Management must give a clear lead on setting standards and in ensuring that they are attained.  This is particularly important when incentive schemes, based on output, are employed. 

Details and guidance on Quality Plans can be found at the website below.




Task 3.2.3 Quality Plans

Produce a quality management plan for an activity or operation on a contract.

Word Guide:  300 – 500



3.2.4 Testing

In order to ensure that aspects of the work conforms to specification and that the quality meets the required standard a number of on and off site test can be carried out.



Materials Testing

All the materials used in today’s construction projects have to meet exacting specifications and standards. Testing these materials and demonstrating compliance with these standards is a generally a mandatory requirement and is designed to:


  • Demonstrate compliance with British Standards or other required specifications
  • Identify and characterise materials
  • Identify risk of non-compliant materials and remedial solutions
  • Investigate possible contamination of land or groundwater
  • Demonstrate quality of workmanship
  • Independent evaluation


There are many different tests which can be performed on Construction materials and those which are required will depend upon:


  • Type and location of the site
  • Contractual agreements
  • Client/Local Authority requirements
  • Type of construction work being carried out


Materials testing can be on site (in-situ) or samples taken and sent to a materials testing laboratory, dependent upon the type of testing being undertaken. 



On Site Testing

Testing can be performed in-situ by competent personnel.


Nuclear Density Meter Testing (NDM)

The NDM can be used on newly laid bituminous materials to control compaction.  It can also be used to control the placement and compaction of earthworks e.g for landfill sites


Evaluation of bearing capacity and compaction of laid materials

This is carried out by:


  • Plate bearing tests
  • Plate loading tests
  • Dynamic plate tests
  • Dynamic Cone Penetrometer tests



Testing of Fresh Concrete


  • Slump Test
  • Manufacture of concrete cubes for compression testing in the laboratory



Laboratory Testing (off site)

Samples are taken from the site and returned to the laboratory for analysis. It is essential that samples taken from site for testing are sampled in accordance with standard procedures to ensure a representative sample is taken and that they are transported, stored and labelled correctly to minimise the possibility incorrect or erroneous results.  It is particularly important to note the location where the sample was taken as areas of non-compliance or contamination can be easily identified.


Testing may include:



Chemical and electro-chemical Testing




    • sulphate and chloride testing of concrete, soils, aggregates and groundwater,
    • pH value of water and soil
    • Organic matter content of soil
    • Contamination testing such as hydrocarbon petrochemicals, arsenic or heavy metals







Classification Tests




    • Atterberg Tests of soils







Physical Tests




    • Particle size of soils and aggregates
    • Moisture content of soils and aggregates
    • California Bearing Ratio (CBR)
    • Frost Heave of Aggregates







Concrete Tests




    • Compressive Strength and Density of Hardened Concrete Cubes



Evaluation of Results

Following testing, the client receives informative reports to assist and support engineering, design and construction decisions relating to such items as:


  • Ground improvement
  • Foundation design
  • Compaction control of soil, aggregates and bituminous material
  • Bearing capacity assessment
  • Road pavement design
  • Subgrade characteristics


Where areas of non-compliance to required standards are found, dependant on the significance of the non-compliance, remedial measures may be taken or further investigation may be required to establish the extent of the failure.

In the case of any ground contamination, this will have to be made safe before work can commence on the site.



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 Sustainability & Quality link below.





L4-3.3 Sustainability & Quality

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