Construction inspections are typically conducted in the ending part of any construction schedule— on the project handover or closeout period. For some professionals in the industry, this activity is seen as the ‘necessary evil’ since it is another task to tick off the long list of a to-do to ensure regulatory compliance. Even though intended to support work on the jobsite, inspections can be a root of friction between general contractors, subcontractors, quality assurance teams, management, and safety teams and be observed to bring up shortcomings and pick fault.
When used correctly, site inspections can be objective, impartial, data-driven tools for the team to implement. They call attention to potential issues before serious problems occur and prevent costly remedial work further down the road. Construction site inspections provide a transparent and open place for collaboration; they have been conducted by our ancestors way before technology hit the earth and continue long after commissioning has been completed.
Your team will need the right tools to carry out actionable tasks and effective reporting for a successful site inspection strategy. Here’s how to make site inspection easy yet promote even better project management for construction.
Understand Why Construction Inspections are Critical In Managing Construction Projects
Site inspections are essential to all aspects of a project’s construction at any part of its lifecycle. One of the most important is the link to Building Control under the Building Regulations 2010, which set the minimum standards needed for the design and construction of buildings.
This Regulation specifies the practical guidance for guaranteeing the health and safety of all inhabitants or workers in or around buildings. To meet Building Control conditions, construction firms must show a continuing commitment to quality, safety, health, and environmental standards and demonstrate this commitment throughout the project. Regular site inspections allow vital checkpoints for uncovering and fixing issues and a complete audit trail of this work.
There are three critical points during the construction cycle where construction site inspections usually take place:
- Before Construction – pre-construction and impact environment surveys
- During Construction – health and safety, progress audits, and quality control
- Project Handover – commissioning, completion of construction punch list, and final handover checks
Ensure that All Pre-Construction Inspections and Surveys Complies to the Standard
Most professionals don’t know that several inspections need to occur before construction starts. Pre-construction impact surveys and assessments establish how and under what specific conditions construction should go ahead. Additionally, environmental impact surveys analyze the effect a construction might cause on the surrounding environment. External factors such as biodiversity, air quality, waterways, and drainage should be considered within this survey. Project surveyors should also provide details on how to mitigate these potential effects.
Pre-construction evaluations also check the suitability of the construction site for development. Ecological, topological, and structural surveys provide critical information for the design and construction phases of the project. Dilapidation reports are also required for larger developments, particularly for infrastructures close to existing buildings. The reports point out the potential risk of damage to neighboring properties and the actions needed to reduce it.
Construction management software allows businesses to consolidate datasets and reports into one source of truth in the cloud. Pro Crew Schedule enables project stakeholders to access documents and collaborate in the design and construction phases. Develop a good tasks management workflow covering the mitigation steps before construction commences, ensuring that you take learnings from the pre-construction stages into the construction phase.
Establish a Reliable Framework for Fact-Based Construction Inspections
Once construction begins, building site inspections become even more essential. Site audit personnel need to be appointed early to establish quality controls. The resulting structure must comply with quality standards from a regulatory perspective and align with the project owner’s needs and expectations.
Quality Assurance and Control should not just be a construction punch list of defects that you discover and rectify at the end of a project. Ultimately, it’s a continuous process that closely monitors jobsite daily, capturing potential rework issues before they become expensive rectifications. Site audit teams need to pass factual, impartial, and objective information to supervisors, managers, and stakeholders to make this happen. By focusing on a pre-determined set of checks, you establish a transparent and honest culture that addresses issues early and fairly.
Properly Document and Consolidate Site Inspection Reports
Construction site inspections provide valuable information on the status of a jobsite, but the real advantage lies in their ability to drive improvement. When defects or incidents are identified, they must be addressed in a controlled manner and fast. During inspections, the site auditors should create a checklist and flag them to the inspection team with their location on the blueprint. Construction managers then allocate tasks to workers according to the established project task management and completion deadlines.
When preparing site inspection reports, attach supporting documents and images visualizing the necessary rework. Employees should have access to all the relevant information they need to complete the work and a system that sends alerts back to supervisors once they complete tasks via task management programs. The tasks are now consolidated as part of the site audit trail that can also be considered as a
site diary, which the works can refer to at any given time.
Using Inspections to Ensure Seamless Project Closeout and Handover
Before handing over a completed project to the building facilities teams, all fixed building utilities must demonstrate performance and on-site calibration. Systems such as boilers, water treatment, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), security, fire detection and alarm system (FDAS), renewable energy, elevators, and escalators require inspection, testing, and approval before handover the owner’s representative. Checklist and punch list forms ensure that the responsible teams complete every delegated task.
The handover itself should also be properly documented, checking off facilities and maintenance training and listing any post-commission or handover issues.
Use a Construction Punch List, But Make It Digital
A construction punch list is used to document issues towards the end phase of a project and summarize them in a to-do list format. Any defects, errors, or pending work are recorded in this form in order to rectify them before handing over the completed project to the owner.
Currently, most punch lists are generated using spreadsheet software like Excel, then printed off and brought on-site for manual write-off. However, paper lists are inefficient and can quickly get lost or damaged. Paper documents will also not be updated every time changes are made – or someone has a comment. However, most importantly, they burden the general contractor to discover and address issues right at the end of the project – instead of rectifying them as soon as they arise.
With this, contractors should strive to go digital with their punch list forms.
The Dilemma with Standard Traditional Construction Punch List
In the present, today’s punch lists refer to the faults in a building after the fact. Even punch list platforms will only show up issues at the end of the building completion without precisely clarifying the cause of the problem.
Why is this a problem?
Imagine that you observe that the floor in one section of the building during the final inspection is uneven. The cause of it, however, remains hidden. Throughout the construction project, numerous trades and numerous contractors have worked on their tasks to turn the plans into reality. However, if you only see a defect before the end, how can you accurately pinpoint who is responsible?
In most cases, your only option would be to hire an expensive expert to clarify the issue at great expense.
The Benefit of Integrating Digital Punchlist in Your Construction Projects
Imagine another scenario where you used a digital punch list form instead of a standard paper one.
In this approach, designers, engineers, or site supervisors use construction management software. As soon as an inconsistency or defect occurs in the operations, it must be documented and transmitted to the party responsible.
With a construction management platform like Pro Crew Schedule, all your project plans are stored in an online system on a contractor-friendly interface. This platform enables project participants to alert one another to defects or problems as they arise. If, for instance, the painter working on the retaining wall notices it is uneven, they can capture a quick photo and immediately inform the site manager. That ensures the painter will not be held liable while allowing the site manager to fix the problem as it arises in real-time.
Incorrect construction practices can be captured by anyone who sees it with a mobile phone, and it is automatically added as a new item to your punch list. This means that you see punch lists as soon as they happen – and it’s no longer only the general contractor’s responsibility to find faults at the end.