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Quality control for building constructions: Six essential tests to perform

Quality control is a crucial process in many industries. It is particularly more important in building constructions for safety reasons since a single building collapse or electrical installation fault could lead to loss of many lives and properties.
Not only this, poor quality control destroys the image of construction and project management companies. That’s why companies invest heavily in the improvement of quality control.

According to Paul Netscher, the costs of poor quality work are:

1. Additional costs and delays to the contractor when work has to be redone or repaired.

2. A poor reputation for the construction company.

3. Additional costs to clients when defects have to be repaired later, for increased maintenance costs or for disruptions to their operations while defects are repaired.

4. Can cause injury and death if the structure fails.

Therefore construction companies should take cognizance of quality at every stage of their projects. This involves delivering projects that satisfy provisional standards, executing the project according to design plan, and meeting the required codes and bylaws.

For example, between July 2012 and June 2013 392 residential building collapsed in Egypt, of which 52% were due to lack of government regulation, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR.)

The statement issued by the body read that “despite the presence of laws and regulations governing housing and constructions, like the 2008 Construction Law, the absence of government regulation and enforcement of these laws and standards led to the spread of collapses.”

Across India, 2600 people die every year in building and other structural collapses. And in the United States, a study revealed that a total of 225 building failures from 1989 to 2000.

In view of this, implementing quality control and obeying extant laws are obligatory requirements that require strict compliance. It is however pertinent that we take a look at tests performed during quality control in construction companies.

Generally, these quality tests are classified into two groups: structural tests and electrical installation tests.

Structural test

Soil investigation: Soil investigation is carried out to determine the surface and subsurface conditions of the project. It is also used to determine the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of the ground. This would give the structural engineer sufficient enough information concerning the best designs to use for the foundation.

Compression and durability test: The compression test is important especially for high rise buildings which rely heavily on the use of concrete slabs. To determine the specified strength of concrete, the compressive test must be taken over a lengthy period for accurate results. Also, structural engineers must test for durability. This is done basically to determine the level of water absorption and penetration.

Mechanical and chemical test:for concrete to be solid, it has to be reinforced with metal (quality engineer steel) bars. Therefore, it is important to test these bars for tensile strength and bending. They have to send the samples to an approved independent laboratory before the steel reinforcement can be used.

Electrical installation test

Cable durability test: The durability of the cables must also be tested. The metallic core must be of the required thickness and size, and it must have adequate insulation. These tests must be done in the laboratories which meet both national and international standards.

Most electrical quality engineers and companies use approved testing facilities and internationally recognised laboratories to ensure compliance. The testing procedures meet with the provisions of South African Bureau of Standards as well as other relevant international standards.

Electrical insulation resistance testing: This test is necessary to prevent accidents resulting from electrical shock or fire outbreak. Before the project is finalised, care must be taken to test the insulation resistance across earth and the whole system of conductors.

Earth continuity testing: The continuity test ensures that there is continuous flow of electric current through the entire wiring installation. This ensures that there is no current leakage whatsoever. It also helps to determine if there is a short circuit along the path to prevent electrical sparks or fire outbreak.

Before powering the electrical installation, the entire wiring system shall be tested for continuity of circuits, short circuits and earthing. All installations must be done according to the manufacturer’s installation guideline.

Lastly, we must realise that spending huge amount of money conducting quality tests is worthwhile considering the long-term benefits involved.

28 Sep 2016 14:49