WHEN the cost of defect rectification can be as high as 6 percent of construction expenditure, any solution to the problem is definitely worth examining.

That is the thinking behind the formation of the Best Practice Club, which is trialing ways of bringing down the cost of faulty works in residential construction projects.

An alliance of leading industry contractors and subcontractors, in collaboration with the University of NSW’s The Australian Centre for Construction Innovation (ACCI), will implementing newly developed management tools with the aim of creating a defect-free culture on building projects.

ACCI’s spokesman Professor Marton Marosszeky said its research had showed that team dynamics and cultural variables were as important as technical competency in delivering quality outcomes on projects.

Professor Marton Marosszeky said the Best Practice Club would implement tools and ideas that aimed to eliminate the traditional waste loop of inspection and reinspection by third parties and promote team building through feedback.

He said government and industry when seeking to improve constructed quality typically focused on training and formal quality systems in the belief that skill development and auditable systems would lead to the best outcomes.

“However this ignores the fact that all projects – regardless of their size and complexity – are only capable of being delivered through teamwork,” he told Construction Contractor. “Construction is a project-based industry with an extremely fragmented supply chain and effective project delivery relies on close and effective teamwork.”

In a recent project an ACCI / industry collaboration analysed a multitude of environmental, technical, managerial, social, behavioural and cultural variables relating to construction project quality.

Head contractors in the collaboration are Barclay Mowlem , Baulderstone Hornibrook , Mainbrace, Multiplex Constructions , Reed Constructions and Walter Constructions. Subcontractors and consultants are Acoustic, Ajax Plumbing, Bonacci Rickard, de Martin Gasparini, Fugen, Hastie, Kone, Metrotex, Metrotex, Polyseal, Star Electrical and WatermanAHW. Together they have created a Best Practice Club to implement and refine the quality tools and ideas developed over the past two years in a previous industry funded ACCI project. Further research into the root causes of defects will be undertaken.

The objectives are of the trial are to improve construction quality through the elimination of defects at source, to address the motivational aspects associated with poor quality work on construction sites and to identify benchmarks to encourage improvement through positive reinforcement and performance feedback.

To date, ACCI findings include:

The cost of defect rectification can be up to 6% of construction expenditure, as much as the profitability of the companies doing the work

The rectification process is highly management intensive, the indirect management costs are equal to direct rectification costs.

The administrative cost is substantially borne by head-contractors while the direct cost of rework is borne by the subcontractors.

The majority of defects appraised originated from an insufficient motivation to get it right, rather than from a lack of skill, training, ability or technical issues.

Existing quality control mechanisms are not only ineffective but also wasteful due to rework waste loop that delays rectification.