11c's of Quality Management in Architecture

Image Copyright: Bansri Pandey

"Quality is not what you put into a service or a product. It is what the customer gets out of it." - Peter Drucker


Recently, I flipped through an article in the local newspaper and felt it was a matter of serious concern to architects and builders. Here is an excerpt from the article that alarms at the consequences of poor building quality. It is titled, “Dream houses can give you nightmares”


The article essentially talks about the inferior quality of buildings, the negative impact it creates and hassles it introduces. Though, it is not just the architect, who is accountable for the overall building quality; the architect to a large extent, can control and influence the process of conceptualizing, designing, construction and post construction to maintain the quality required. There are 11 factors  in the construction process, that affects the quality of the building and thus, an architect shall be aware of those in order to design, control and manage the quality of the end-result. 


 11 C’s that affect quality in construction:


  1. CLIENT: Unclear requirements, preferences and unrealistic expectations of the client results into misunderstandings among stakeholders, delay in schedule and cost overrungs - affecting the the quality of the end result. 

  2. COST: Cost overruns are a major hindrance to quality. To save upon costs, the first thing that is sacrificed is the quality of the material, products being used, people being employed and the methods being chosen for construction. 

  3. CONTRACTOR: Misunderstnadings between the designer and the contractor about the quality of the product required, is often the case that end results i not up to the desired expectation. 

  4. CONSTRUCTION: Construction Methods (Steel / Concrete / Wood / Composite) must be pre-planned. Procurement of materials in required time and their quality check must not be ignored. Construction phase is the phase which has the highest impact on how the design is being executed and the quality is being achieved.

  5. CONTRACT: The nature of the contract will affect the quality of construction. More control over quality can be expected in design/build or a project with construction management than in a lump sum contract or a design-bid-build contract in which reponsibilities and communication among stakeholders is limited.

  6. CONSULTANT: Quality  is achieved when the teams work collaboratively. When sub-consultants are involved in the project from the very beginning and are brought together for making important decisions, communication gaps are reduced and deliverables are produced with higher awareness and higher quality.

  7. CLIMATE: Considerations to face difficulties related to physical geography, ecosystem and environment must be considered in the project. Construction technologies adopted to suit the climate must be planned at the design stage. Not being able to do so, results into a delay of time, cost overrun and reduced quality.

  8. COMMUNITY: Community support is required for any project to be successful. Good quality will win the confidence of the community and poor quality will turn the community and the project stakeholders against each other. 

  9. CALENDAR: Time is money. The schedule of design as well as construction is important to maintain the quality output. When project is delayed, quality of people, construction methods and management procedures are not given priority in order to simply save as much time as possible. This attitde results into more damage to the quality of the end result.

  10. COMPLEXITY: Complexity of the project affects the quality the most. A house is different from an art gallery. The people involved in managing the complex buildings must be well trained to implement quality strategies during the building process.

  11. CORE PROCEDURES: Often, good quality management strategies employed in one project are not carried forward to another and a lot of knowledge is lost in transition. Documenting and recording the best practices, will result into employing better toold, techniques and people into the next project imporving the quality continously. 


Last, but not the least, no solution can be universally applied in all situations. Every problem needs a unique solution. Understnanding what factors affect the quality, will give you a basis to develop your own quality management strategy for the project.


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