In February 2017, Professor John Cole published a report into the defects that led to the closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh and, along with other industry bodies, the CIOB attended a roundtable to discuss the findings and plan next steps. Around the same time, declining consumer satisfaction with new homes identified a need to address some serious quality failings in the residential sector.
Just a few months later, in June 2017, the fire at Grenfell Tower in London claimed the lives of 71 people and the CIOB launched a Commission of Past Presidents to investigate the issue of quality in construction.
The findings from the Call for Evidence as part of this work are published below and, in March 2018, we launched the ‘Build in Quality’ initiative with the RIBA and RICS.
The aims of this commission are:
- To encourage a new quality culture to instil pride in the work of the construction sector.
- To improve the quality of the product, people and process, whilst recognising the regulatory, statutory and compliance requirements for design, off-site assembly and site production in the construction sector.
- To instil a greater awareness of quality in construction in the education and training of CIOB members and the wider construction community.
- To recognise the role of government, clients/owners, the design team, contractors, site production team, and subcontractors in the delivery of quality.
- To recognise the reality of constraints (quality of people and training, and skills availability) on the workforce and the fragmentation of the supply chain.
We have worked with our members, and wider industry, to identify the main issues in regards to quality in construction.
We held an initial workshop at the CIOB Members’ Forum in June 2017, alongside the RIBA, which highlighted initial issues. We used desk research to expand on these issues and we identified clear push and pull factors impacting quality.
Push factors include regulations, standards and codes, and certification. Pull factors include clients and procurement, company policies, and workers’ job satisfaction.
We ran a further call for evidence exercise between October and December 2017 to delve deeper into these issues and begin to identify solutions. We gathered views and data from our members, the wider construction sector, government, and other interested stakeholders on construction quality issues. These were specifically linked to areas in which the CIOB can have influence.
These issues are industry-wide and are created by, and involve, all stakeholders. Therefore any solutions need to take a holistic view involving as many different viewpoints as possible. Most of the responses showed an appetite for change and recognition for the strength of the industry and its players, particularly the professions.
The findings reflected that, by having greater support through stronger regulations, better resourced training (e.g. apprenticeships) and clearer codes and standards for quality, great strides in improving quality in construction could be made. A widely shared opinion is to treat quality management in the same way that health and safety management is regulated.
There were also many examples of existing processes, practices and initiatives which are contributing to good quality which should be encouraged and scaled up.
Based on these findings, the CQC is recommending a number of initial measures:
- To develop a competency-based quality qualification/certification.
- To create a quality code that will capture best practice and set the standards to be expected from the industry.
- To ensure that quality has greater emphasis in the CIOB Education Framework.
More detailed proposals will be presented to members at the CIOB Members Forum in July 2018, along with a recommended action plan for medium to longer-term activities.