Leadership at every level will ensure quality in construction

Richard Kochanski is Chair of Constructing Excellence South West (CESW) Quality and Compliance Theme Group, assembled to help drive quality improvements across the region. CESW is a cross-sector, cross-supply chain, member led organisation charged with driving the change agenda in construction. 

Delivery of construction projects are driven by three factors – time, cost, and quality.  But with ever tightening budgets, it is quality and compliance that tends to get neglected. It can be difficult for the client to appreciate and demonstrate the benefits of a high-quality project across a building’s life-cycle in order to justify sufficient budget. 

With the right leadership in place at every level of a construction project, quality can be ensured from the very beginning to completion – and beyond. 

Generally, infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, HS2 and Hinckley Point are client led and have sufficient resources to help ensure that quality and compliance standards are met, through dedicated quality and compliance staff who help to maintain and improve standards.  

Sadly, this is not always the case in other business sectors, such as building, where quality can and has suffered. 

Things are starting to change, however, with independent reports, such as those into the Grenfell Tower tragedy and Edinburgh school wall collapse, highlighting to all those involved in the construction industry that there have been inherent failings throughout the whole supply chain.  

And with these issues now in the public domain, and some in the industry having to deal with financial losses and reputational damage as a result, the spotlight on quality construction has never been higher. 

Of course, failings shouldn’t have to happen for any industry to look at its processes and best practices more closely, but quality and compliance must be at the top of the agenda on construction projects.  

The CESW Quality and Compliance Theme Group is set to launch ‘An Enlightened Client’s Guide to Quality’ in 2022. This is intended to provide help clients understand ‘what good looks like’ and addresses issues in different client sectors. 

To maintain quality and compliance there must be leadership to set and enforce the standards and this leadership needs to be maintained at every level throughout the construction process. 

Sufficient resources are required to help ensure the right people are used on the project at the right time. 

I believe it comes down to people and culture, and it must start with the client before flowing through the supply chain. The client needs a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve and how they are going to provide it. To develop the client’s brief, input is required from competent and knowledgeable people, either internally or from external client’s advisors. 

Early involvement of construction professionals, advisors and members of the supply chain is essential.  

Value can then be added through the process, but it makes the biggest contribution at the start of the project and design stages. There will be a real missed opportunity to add value if this is left to the construction stage. 

The CESW ‘An Enlightened Client’s Guide to Quality’ will be available in 2022 on the CESW website. For more information on joining CESW visit https://constructingexcellencesw.org.uk/ or call 01225 256002.