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Technion paper sites customers as best QC protection

David Stiebel. . . .5/4/2010

A 2008 Technion School of Higher Education paper sites customers as the best defense for Quality Control in new home construction.

Proof of Quality Control issues comes from one of the leading education facilities in Israel. Read why customers seem to make the difference as the contractor’s quality control personnel fail in their duties...

Research Reports, 2008

Root Causes for Defects
in Residential Construction,
Identifying and Analyzing  

Assoc. Prof. Yehiel Rosenfeld Eng. Chanan Ben-Oz, M.Sc.


Costs apportioned to repairing building deficiencies significantly affect the profitability of construction firms. Studies carried out around the world have shown that costs incurred by building deficiencies account for 10% to 15% of total project cost. In Israel's construction industry, it is reasonable to assume that the situation is even worse, as attested to by two major indications: the first is the report of the Center for Quality and Excellence, which showed that the cost of non-quality accounts for 50% of the output in Israel's construction industry (this finding should however be discounted, as it includes overall costs); the second is the large number of lawsuits filed in Israel regarding deficiencies in the quality of construction. During 2005, over 3,000 lawsuits were filed across the country due to building deficiencies in new dwelling units - constituting an 18% rise over 2004. Amid the financial troubles that plague Israel's construction industry, this sector also pays dearly for the repair of building deficiencies, which in many cases is substantially greater than the project's net profit.

The purpose of this study was to identify and find out the root causes of building deficiencies in the dominant and highly homogeneous market segment of, high-density construction of new homes, which accounts for 70% of total residential construction in Israel, and nearly 50% of the total output of the construction industry. Cutting down the waste of money in the long-run requires thorough treatment of the root causes of this problem. Identifying and eliminating the underlying causes would prevent building deficiencies from being repeated in the future, whereas treating a particular deficiency per-se would produce only minor, limited benefit. Our hypothesis was that the root causes could be isolated, and classified into clearly distinguishable primary groups.

The research method, as a whole, was to uncover the root causes through a process of inference, which included the analysis of 100 individual case studies. We selected seven residential building firms, and surveyed ten different sites of multi-storied new home construction.

The main research method was Root Cause Analysis, employing a technique endorsed by the American Society for Quality. This method comprises five stages, with the first three applying to each deficiency separately throughout identification of its root causes, and the last two applying to the total of root causes found.

The method's five stages are as follows: 1. Collection of data pertaining to the deficiency and its causes, using the Quality Performance Tracking System [QPTS], 1. Understanding the problem using a flow-chart that also included costs at interim stages, at which tracking and repairing the deficiency was possible, 2. Tracking down possible causes, and identifying the root cause, using free-wheeling brainstorming, 3. Analysis of root causes - using a statistical analysis and creating histograms and Pareto diagrams, 4. Analysis of the causes for the statistical distribution using Cause and Effect analysis.

Although the declared purpose of the study was to identify and analyze the root causes of construction deficiencies, a comprehensive analysis of each one of the 100 deficiencies allowed for extracting additional products with relevance to our subject.

The main products of this study are the following:

1. Typifying the deficiency (based on QPTS) including all aspects of its makeup: classification, timing, specification of workers' involvement and activity of the quality system, with the following principal findings:

  1. Most deficiencies occurred during the framing stage of work on the reinforced concrete frame (and walls) of the building, contrary to the conventional wisdom in the construction industry that most building deficiencies occur during the finishing phase.
  2. The finish phase is the apex of all quality activities: it is indeed during this phase that most deficiencies were discovered, and most activities affected by deficiencies appeared at this phase.
  3. 67% of all deficiencies discovered during the delivery stage adversely affected the company's reputation.
  4. As a group, the frame and wall construction workers caused the largest number of deficiencies (37%), and were found to be performing insufficient control throughout the process.
  5. The developer's inspector identified only 3% of deficiencies; inspectors' engineering skills and capabilities are not being fully utilized for the good of the quality system.
  6. Tenants identified 20% of deficiencies, which means that the quality system depends on the tenants acting as quality controllers.
  7. In 57% of cases the quality system's functioning was found to be inadequate.

2. Identification and analysis of root causes showed that these are distributed along primary classes, as follows:

  • Work methods 45%
  • Manpower 34%
  • Management 19%
  • Mechanized equipment 1%
  • Raw Materials 1%

The final part of the study presents recommendations for implementation. Some are tactical, referring to the construction site, and are based on characterization of the deficiencies. These can be implemented by project managers at low costs, without introducing extensive organizational reforms. Other recommendations are strategic, referring to the construction company and the building and construction industry at large. Based on analysis of root causes, the latter, though demanding large-scale expenditures and implementation of significant reorganization, are accompanied by strategic benefits.

Courtesy of Technion Institute:

More info here:



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