The inefficient building/construction system that is reeling under the pressure of project delays, corruption, bureaucracy and blatant violation of building codes has taken a heavy toll on quality control. Today there are several concrete structures that are susceptible to safety malfunctions which could lead to disasters if remedial measures are not taken.
When consumers invest huge sums in a house they want assurance in terms of the durability quotient of the property. They want the house to be sturdy enough to resist routine wear and tear. But this assurance cannot just be the builder/developer’s prerogative. While evaluating a project, the consumer should ensure that the builder includes a document with the agreement that details all specifications relating to the type of construction, flooring, doors, windows, sanitary and water supply, electrical fittings etc. This ensures awareness in terms of the deliverables that the developer has committed to.
Sometimes there are glaring discrepancies between the quality of amenities specified and the ones actually used (during construction). Checking the quality of construction and materials used in a project through a proactive measure such as ‘third party audits’ can be an effective solution.
Safety features have to be necessarily factored in as far as evaluation of a structure is concerned. During construction, aspects such as testing on the soil, structural design, concrete mix, wall thickness, fixtures and finishing have to be checked thoroughly.
1 Quality check
In India, consumers can approach third party auditors registered with the Quality Council of India to undertake an inspection to determine the materials used in the construction process as per standard safety norms. It is easier to approach the council and hire a third party auditor. An auditor can check materials paid for and used during construction. Records of procurement of the raw material and its subsequent should also be scrutinised.
2 Maintaining standards
Within the audit, deviations from the agreed process or standards are captured. The auditor, in his report, mentions the degrees of variation and their exact location. These reports can then be used to take a remedial action.
3 Ask for agency to help
The other option for end consumers is to request the builder/developer to hire an inspection agency for quality certifications. This option may be easier and cost effective as compared to the previous one. A group of homebuyers can jointly request the developer for such audits. Many reputed builders have already started seeking certifications such as the Construction Industry Development Council and CQRA quality certification. While the former is endorsed by the Government of India to oversee the progress of the construction industry the latter is an initiative of the Durocrete Construction Quality Rating Agency. Both have active patronage from the Planning Commission of India.
4 Checks at each stage
Another evolved technique of safety assurance is to undertake quality checks in different stages. This needs to be supplemented by phase wise inspection and approvals. This translates to a common sense and effective approach as authorisation for any new construction stage is granted only if the previous stage is approved for quality.
5 Quality assurance
Third party audits are free from risks and insure consumers from potential
financial losses. Requesting the necessary quality assurance certificates from developers at the time of booking is also recommended.
(The author is managing director, RICS South Asia)