What is quality in construction?

March 4, 2021 Otto Ruusunen construction, quality

Last November, I completed my master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Tampere. For my master’s thesis I made general inspection document for construction as an assignment for the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT.
This blog is about construction quality, which was the focus of the theoretical part of my master’s thesis. In a blog post published last autumn, our Sales Manager Oskar Smeds wrote about the trap of quality documentation. Comprehensive documentation cannot ensure construction quality and even the overall meaning of the concept of quality varies depending on the source and context. The concept of quality is widely used in almost all activities. There are regularly news stories regarding issues and faults in construction quality. Often, when talking about construction quality, the entire concept of quality is misunderstood, especially in the context of construction. 
What is quality?
Quality, especially in the context of construction, is often viewed from the perspective of errors. Errors are only one area of quality, but as something concrete they are often the easiest for an outsider to notice. Different sources provide various different definitions of quality. A common denominator for all of these definitions is that the service/product meets the expectations and requirements set for it. In construction this means simply that the building must meet the requirements of the customer and the end-user. Construction quality can be divided into two parts: the quality of the construction process and the quality of the building itself.
Often, the quality of the building is misunderstood to be construction quality. It is easy even for an outsider to perceive and understand the quality of the building as a tangible issue, but it is only one part of the construction quality. 
Building quality can be further split into three parts: functional quality, technical quality and the user experience of the building. Construction quality is always based on regulations that impose the minimum demands that all construction must meet. Functional requirements are met with various technical solutions used to implement the functionality. Good design management can utilise functional and experiential requirements to produce actual technical requirements that can then be implemented. Regulations provide the basic requirements for technical and functional quality. However, the concept of good construction practice is closely related to the implementation of technical quality. Regulations do not define the technical implementation, but they do require adhering to good construction practices. Although good construction practices are not defined by regulations, they are based on national industry-specific publications and guidelines, such as Ratu and RIL materials. In addition to technical and functional quality, construction quality includes the user experience of the building. User experience of a building is very subjective because it is based on first-hand experience. 
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The quality of the construction process comprises the quality of cooperation between the various parties throughout the project. There are always several parties involved in a construction process and the cooperation and flow of information between them plays a significant role in succeeding. The quality of the construction process can be divided into the quality of design, property development and production as well as cooperation between these three. Cooperation and the flow of information between the various parties plays a very important role in achieving a high quality end result. Often, issues in the construction process are caused by gaps at the interface between parties, which pose challenges to the flow of information during the process. These gaps may cause even a complete breakdown in the flow of information. 
So, what comprises construction quality? 

Quality means that the product meets the demands and goals set for it. In construction, goals comprise regulations and project-specific demands. In order to achieve a high quality end result, all parties must understand these goals. Understanding the goals allows implementing construction according to the goals set. Good communication between the various parties of the project can be considered a foundation for high quality.

Without knowing the goals of the project, it is impossible to reach those goals and create a high quality building.

The concept of overquality is sometimes floated in the industry, but actually there is no such thing. It merely means that the goals and requirements of the project have not been communicated clearly between the different parties. 

If you want to discuss more about quality in construction, please contact me. If you want to hear more about starting to use Congrid in your company, contact Andrej, Sales Manager in Sweden.


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  Otto Ruusunen
  Team Lead of Sales Finland
  Master of Science (Technology)
  +358 44 716 7203
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