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Quality control is key to avoiding construction lawsuits

A good quality control plan can be the key to your project's success -- and the key to avoiding lawsuits later over problems and defects that were missed during construction.

If you've generally worked on smaller projects, a written quality control plan might be something that's unfamiliar to you -- because you've probably been "hands on" with every aspect of the design and the implementation of that design.

If your construction business is expanding, however, and moving in the big leagues with larger and larger projects, a written plan becomes necessary -- you won't be able to oversee every step of the job.

There are two good things to keep in mind:

1. Write it down.

Having unwritten expectations is a quick road to litigation later when a client swears that something isn't remotely what he or she was expecting.

A good plan will designate an individual to be in charge of quality control. This is the person who is going to be working directly with supervisors and subcontractors, as well as conducting quality control surveillance, so this is the person your client needs to be able to contact if he or she has a question or a problem.

Your quality control plan should also include regular meetups between key personnel to discuss any issues that have surfaced -- and it needs to include a system for handling the inevitable mistakes that happen on any construction process. You don't want to find out that a cover-up or patch job was done down the line when it's harder (and more expensive) to fix.

2. Consider making everyone (even subcontractors) part of a collaborative team.

Experts say that the traditional top-down model of quality control doesn't do much for preventing the same mistakes from happening over and over again.

They recommend a collaborative process that involves everyone, even subcontractors, in the very first phases of design -- a lot of problems can be avoided simply because there are more eyes on the potential issues. Having all the key players involved at once also gives you the opportunity to avoid construction mistakes before they happen and redesign your plans when they're still just on paper.

If you end up in litigation over a construction project, you may find a good defense hiding right in your plans or the notes from team meetings. An attorney can provide you with more information on how to proceed. .

Source: First Time Quality, "How to Write a Construction Quality Control Plan," Ed Caldeira, accessed June 07, 2017

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