Rework consumes a significant share of program time and budget on Australian construction projects – but it doesn’t have to be this way. According to experts who spoke at a recent Procore webinar, “Upskilling Your Teams in Quality Fundamentals,” some basic shifts in practice, process and professional development can help teams get work right the first time and reduce the costs of defect rectification.
Here are five ways to get started:
1. Think about your ethics
Recent Procore research data shows that around 12 percent of onsite time in Australian construction is spent on rework.
In terms of profit and loss, that means for every dollar spent at the construction phase around seven dollars may be spent during the rework and construction phase. Often, a large share of the cost is being borne by the end consumer who lives and works in the defective buildings, according to Vanessa Carmody-Smith, Program Manager, Office of the Building Commissioner at NSW Department of Customer Service.
Looking at projects from an ethical standpoint is part of the solution.
“‘Ethical application of standards’ means making sure that the work that you’re walking away from at the end of the day is a standard that you consider to be acceptable,” explained Carmody-Smith. “Acceptable for your loved ones to perhaps be sleeping in or staying in or utilising or working.”
Webinar Moderator, Lauren Conceicao, NSW Deputy Executive Director at the Property Council of Australia, explained how self-respect is part of the equation.
If you can walk away from a construction piece and have longevity in the quality of your work and the respect for the work that you’ve delivered, then that’s what we want to see in the construction industry.
2. Plan ahead for risk
One of the ways the industry has reduced workplace deaths and injuries is by taking a risk-based approach to safety and planning ahead to reduce those risks. David McCarthy, Director Infrastructure, Assets and Places at KPMG, says a similar approach needs to be applied for quality. During the project planning stages, identify which parts of the project will have the greatest risk of defects and put systems and processes in place to address the root causes of possible defects.
At Multiplex’s Centre for Excellence in Rosebery, teams are trained to identify high-risk building systems and processes.
“What we’ve done is grab a whole series of modules, put the modules together against the critical risks that we see in quality and against that, we have a training course,” said Warwick Johnson, Regional Executive – Operations at Multiplex. “And we run all of our staff, all of our supervisory staff, be that from site managers down, through that process.”
3. Bring everyone into the team early
Multiplex practices an early team integration process that peer reviews project design, and identifies areas where achieving quality will require additional focus.
This kind of approach is optimal, especially when a designer or architect has produced what he calls “unbuildable art”.
Early involvement by the experts is the necessary control that ensures a project can meet design intent but also meet the appropriate standards for quality, safety and compliance.
Who better to be involved in the design stage than the guys that are actually going to build it?
“Who better to be involved in the design stage than the guys that are actually going to build it? So, bring in the contractors, bring in the suppliers, bring in the subcontractors, get them involved in the design stages as early as we can,” said Dr. Marcus Jefferies, Head of Discipline – Construction Management at University of Newcastle.
4. Stay up to date with the Code – it’s free
The National Construction Code (NCC) is not a set-and-forget suite of information a builder or trade needs to learn once they get their license. It constantly changes in line with new materials, current performance standards and methodologies.
Johnson says every builder and trade should be keeping up to date with the NCC – which in recent years has been digitised and is now available in full, on-line for free. He believes that has expanded its adoption and also people’s understanding of the Code.
“If you’re working in the building industry and you haven’t registered yourself for the National Construction Code, I think that would be unfortunate, given that it is available for free at the moment. And we look forward to the day that Australian Standards can do the same, because I think that will help the broader understanding of the requirements under each of those standards,” Johnson said.
5. Make training part of the job
Multiplex takes ongoing learning seriously, with progress in people’s careers based on their completion of professional development.
“It makes really good business sense to have a very skilled staff. The greater you can skill your staff, the better you are, be that from construction workers, apprentices through to your supervisory staff and your site engineers and your project engineers, even project managers and site managers,” Johnson explained.
Training that is becoming available such as the Office of the Building Commissioner’s Continuing Professional Development and other online, flexible and self-paced learning makes training accessible for the 80 percent of construction industry businesses that are small-to-medium enterprises.
Undertaking ongoing upskilling could also be the difference between a business thriving, or declining.
“We will see 20 percent of the businesses fall away that don’t wish to change,” said McCarthy.