Production Related Quality Issues In Painting Construction Essay

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Contractors that focus more on productivity rather than the required quality have many excuses to their unacceptable execution of work but the end result is the same, a substandard structure. Even with building inspections some unsatisfactory workmanship can go unnoticed and in some cases may be ignored. The effects of this problem can range from a minor fault of the building to a severe defect of the structure which can leave the facility unusable and may even pose a risk to the people in and around this facility.

Productivity is a key part in making a project a success and quality is also a significant factor in a successful project. A structure should be of the quality specified and if quality is being ignored to speed up productivity costs to fix the quality issues can well exceed the budget, even though the costs needed to overcome the quality issues are not always charged to the client it still produces an unsuccessful project from the contractor�s point of view.

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Paint work is required on almost all building related projects and can be considered as minor work. The process of painting still needs to run smoothly and needs to be of good quality, it�s an easily noticeable quality issue and if needed to be rectified major additional costs can be incurred depending on the severity of the situation.

The aim of this research is to identify the problem more clearly, examine the cost implications and indicate why planning is important using the example of painting.

Research Methodology

The aim of this research is to identify the quality issues that can be created by production, examine the possible cost implications and indicate why planning is important in overcoming this situation.

Liaising with contractors that experience this issue have given greater insight into the problems it creates, where cost implications arise from and how this issue can be dealt with.

Interviews have been conducted with professionals in order to receive the insight to compile this report, critical questions were asked to a number of professionals

INTRODUCTION

The burden of re-doing work completed is common problem that is present on construction sites. Re-doing work can have a major effect on the budget and time constraints. Contractors are obligated to do the task again until it is of the quality and specification stated. The need for work to be redone can be due to bad workmanship, does not correspond to specifications or does not meet quality standards. In an attempt to speed up production, improper planning and poor co-ordination can be disastrous which is a factor that contributes to bad workmanship, non-correspondence to specifications and poor quality.

1. A COMMON PROBLEM IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

Production is a key factor in the construction industry as it does relate to profit, considering a month to month basis if production is low then the amount of valued work would be low and over a long term if production is low then the project would exceed its stated duration and penalties will be paid also workers are employed on that site for a longer period and need to be remunerated for that time. The employee is more likely to ask, �how much is completed on site? �, �can we cut down the number of labourers? � and the site management staff are pressured into speeding up production, which can cause quality issues if not planned properly. Management staff are sometimes ignorant to the fact that for high production levels to be successful quality and proper planning need to be major factors. It is pointless thinking that work is almost complete on a project and once a quality check is done major problems surface.

Painting is usually regarded as a minor task on site although when walking in to a room, the paint on the walls is one of the first things you notice. Re-painting walls on construction sites is known as common practice. Speeding up the process of painting creates visual imperfections, being a very noticeable quality issue it is requested to be repainted. Painted walls are easily made dirty and with negligence by other labourers carrying out other tasks, improper co-ordination from management in arranging tasks to be done at the same time or professionals not creating awareness walls are generally painted more times than required. It seems to be much easier to re-paint than to properly co-ordinate work but this creates wastage in the form of time, labour and materials. Understandably this problem cannot always be avoided but the disregard of the need for proper planning should be eliminated.

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1.1 What happens when painting is �rushed �

Speeding up production for painting can result in spills of paint on the floor, wrong colours being used or bad workmanship depending on the skill of the artisan. It results in having to use cleaning agents to remove paint from other surfaces or having to paint the walls white and then painting the correct colour paint, these bring about unnecessary costs implications, time implications and require labour that could have been completing other tasks or the same task in another area.

1.1.1 Bad workmanship

�Rushing� the painting process can cause the worker/ artisan to spill paint on the floors or objects near him/her, painting over light switch fittings, painting over window frames or spilling paint on the window. These errors require a cleaning agent to remove the paint off these objects which cause a minor but unwanted/ unneeded cost implication, can cause a significant time delay as the paint marks are sometimes �stubborn� and it generally takes a few minutes as you have to work carefully with the cleaning agent.

1.1.2 Creates room for error (not adhering to colour specifications)

In the midst of the �rush� artisans can mistakenly apply the wrong colour of paint to the surface while this mostly human error the risk of applying the wrong paint colour is far greater when trying to speed up production. If the wrong colour is used it is advisable to paint over with a white coloured undercoat and then apply the correct paint colour, this causes needless use of resources.

1.1.3 Applying another coat before the previous coat has dried

Applying another coat of paint before the previous coat has dried properly will result in the previous coat of paint lifting and pulling away from the surface. It is a minor cost implication but an avoidable cost implication.

1.1.4 Checking the materials

In concentrating more on production materials are sometimes not checked by management or forget to adhere to the batch number. Not ensuring the same batch number of paint is procured can cause a significant cost implication.

1.2 Who creates the problem

It is not always the fault of the worker/ artisan that is painting the wall, there are a number of indirect factors to take into account such as negligent workers carrying out other tasks, improper co-ordination of work the company�s professionals not creating awareness on the effects.

1.2.1 Negligent workers

Applying a final coat of paint in a room after all other work has been completed will never be the case as it is also important not to plan work where all tasks can only take place once the previous task is completed, for example: fixing the skirting will only be done once fixing the ceiling boards, these tasks can both be carried out at the same time depending on the availability of labour and material.

It is most likely that more than one task is carried out in a particular area at the same time. In the middle of carrying out other tasks workers sometimes mess the newly painted walls by simply placing their hands on the wall, chipping the walls with equipment or by �horsing around�. This is an unnecessary cause for re-painting a wall and can easily be avoided. Site management staff needs to create awareness on the negligence of other labourers, as re-doing this work is a pointless waste of labour, materials and time.

1.2.2 Improper co-ordination of works

Foreman�s/ Site agents are generally responsible for the actual co-ordination of works on-site even though they are not the professionals that create the master plan.

With allowing a wall to receive a final coat of paint before electrical, mechanical, plumbing or any overhead work are completed creates a need for the walls to receive additional coats of paint. They attempt to speed up production by trying to complete work in certain areas ahead of time but sometimes other factors are not considered for example: the installation of light switches, walls are not properly skimmed or overhead work such as air-conditioning fittings are not installed yet, to name a few, all these create the need for the wall to re-painted.

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In the attempt to speed up production walls are re-painted before consideration of other factors that may affect the walls.

1.2.3 Professionals not creating awareness

The professionals that create the master plan should make site management staff aware that to the consequences of re-painting in terms of the delays in time, other tasks can begin or other areas can be completed but labourers are re-doing work. A basic example: applying a final coat of paint in a certain area before it should be takes two days and redoing the work takes two days as well whereas applying the final coat of paint at the correct time would take two days, two extra days are used.

The professionals that control the budget of the projects should make sure that unnecessary wastage of paint should not occur on site.

1.3 Visual examples

Source: http://swphomeinspect.com

Figure 1: The effects of too many coats of paint.

Figure 2: A result of bad workmanship

Figure 3: Another result of bad workmanship.

Figure 4: A final coat of applied before existing fixtures could be removed.

1.4. Can the contractor claim for payment

The contractor will not be liable to charge the costs to the client unless they were issued an instruction to make changes to a certain item that will affect the paint work, the contractor will need to have evidence that the change affected the work that was already completed to ensure payment is made. Adjustments to the original set of plans is a common occurrence on construction projects, an addition of a new item or repositioning of an item can have an effect on the paint work which will need to be �made good� it is advisable that the contractor keeps a record of the cause to repainting.

Example: An area has been completed and the client requires a light switch fitting to be relocated.

The relocation will require the existing connections to be removed and �made good� and upon relocating the fitting the connections need to be fitted in the wall.

If an area requires repainting through no fault by another party, the contractor cannot charge the cost to the client or the other contractors involved on the project. The cost needs to be monitored as it can escalate to a significant amount. Using information on the inadequacies of previous projects can assist when tendering for new projects, to reduce the risk of unnecessary costs when building up rates a quality factor can be used which can cater for extra time needed to complete the task to a certain degree of quality.

2. THE EFFECTS OF UNNECESSARY ADDITIONAL WORK

There are repercussions to unnecessary repainting, if there are too many coats of paint the paint begins to act on its own mass rather than a coat on the plaster and spider like cracks begins to show the surface. Aside from the physical effects of paint there are cost implications that are incurred due to extra materials, labour and time required.

2.1 The physical effects

The physical effects of redoing paint works is not detrimental to the stability of the structure nor does it have major long term effects it mainly creates visual imperfections, during a quality inspection these quality issues are greatly visible as it is one of the first things you notice when entering a room.

Any defect with regards to paint work calls for repainting and the defect mainly causes cost implications as labour is needed, material is needed and it also causes time related consequences.

2.2 Cost Implications

The costs on site are all accounted for and contractors set aside an amount for contingencies and profit. If the amount in contingencies is being used on �smaller� issues then the company can be at risk if something major were to happen. In any case there are a few ingredients needed to make the painting process a success (not going into any extra cost unaccounted for).

An experienced Quantity Surveyor will have a �just in case amount� included in the rates with regards to painting but this figure cannot be a significant amount as companies need to keep a competitive edge with their prices, of course there are inexperienced Quantity Surveyors that will ignore the �just in case amount� and this leaves the company at a greater risk of completing the project with less profit forecasted.

2.2.1 Where do the costs arise from

If there are works to be redone due to high production creating quality issues, the cost implications need to be considered and monitored accordingly to prevent this from happening again. This information will be useful to future projects and can assist in the planning process.

When paint work is required to be redone it raises costs in labour and materials.

2.2.1.1 Labour costs

Labour is obviously required in this situation, a large labour will most likely not be needed most of the time this situation will call for one artisan and one general worker but this is dependent on the volume of work.

This cost will be calculated by the time taken to complete the task for example:

It took one artisan and one general worker one day to repaint a wall.

If the artisans and general worker�s wages are R25/ hour and R12.50/ hour respectively and there is 8 working hours in a day then the labour cost to complete the task will be R300.

This cost is an additional cost and the contractor will not be able to submit a claim for this cost as it is the fault of the contractor�s team.

2.2.1.2 Material costs

Material costs are the main element of repainting as extra buckets of paint may be required.

The cost can calculated by considering the square metre�s to be painted, even you will need to most probably order extra the direct cost of repainting should be calculated so that a clear indication of the cost to repaint is given.

For example: if 20m2 are required to be repainted and the coverage of the paint is 20m2/ 2 litres of paint, the paint is only available in a 5 litre bucket for which the cost R100.

Then the cost to repaint the area will be R40.

3. IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING

Firstly, what is planning? �Planning (also called forethought) is the process of thinking about and organizing the activities required to achieve a desired goal.�

Scheduling/ planning of the works is one of the main sections in reducing the effects of production related quality issues, proper coordination of all activities can greatly reduce the damaging of completed work. All �finishing� trades are vital in the building industry although with painting visual imperfections are easily identified and unnecessary costs can be incurred. Planning is an essential when it comes to the building industry, well it is an essential in all industries but in the building industry it can have detrimental effects on the structure and major costs can be suffered. Proper planning is sometimes ignored or can be regarded as unimportant with less complex activities, proper planning should be consistent among all trades, a loss big or small is still a loss and shows inadequacy in a company.

3.1 Scheduling of works

Arranging and quantifying work in terms of their predecessor�s, successor�s and duration can �make or break� a company, if the plan reflects incorrect and unrealistic figures the labour requirements for the unaccounted remaining days can cause major cost implications. This is just as important as building up rates for activities, if an activity is scheduled for less days than actually required it has a �butterfly effect� on the whole plan, getting back on track with the plan will require extra labour and certain activities can be rushed which creates quality issues and in turn costs more to re-do the snags.

Obviously painting cannot be just left for last to prevent any issues from arising it should be properly integrated in to the overall plan but certain work need to be completed before it can be started such as structural work, overhead work or and work concerning drilling in to the walls.

Some projects require a different amount of colour coats than other projects. Depending on the amount of coats required painting can begin while the project is still in the building stage but not completed.

For example, if building work is being done in sections, rooms that have been plastered can receive an undercoat and perhaps one coat of colour paint if there are more than three coats required.

Source: http://www.homedecortrend.net

Figure 5: floor plan

If the master bedroom was completely plastered and ready for paint but the rest of the rooms were still undergoing building work, then the master bedroom can obviously begin to receive an undercoat but the final coat should not be completed before the ceiling boards are installed, as this can dirty the walls, depending on the degree to which the walls are dirtied more than one coat of paint will be required so that there is no inconsistency in the paint colour.

This method will assist in properly integrating painting into the plan in that it starts at the earliest date therefore there is no rush to complete the activity when the project is reaching completion.

3.2. How proper planning reduces costs

Essentially projects are seen as either profit or loss to companies after completion, the main concentration to upper management is whether the project is going to make money or lose money and with this thinking on a day to day basis upper management can make decisions to save money in ways that will eventually affect the plan such as reduce labour or start certain activities before they should be started. The �finishing� stage of the project is an intricate one as it requires attention to detail rushing these activities will create quality issues, obviously at the same time these activities should not take any longer then they need to. This is why planning is a very important aspect, with every activity realistically accounted for and every activity neatly fitting into one another.

With integrating painting properly into the plan costs are reduced, painting activities starting at the correct times will reduce the chances of negligence, speeding up the process when it falls behind, using extra materials than accounted for and extra labour needed.

3.3 Other aspects of planning

Arranging activities is just one part of planning other sections such as quality labour allocation or ordering of materials cannot be taken lightly.

Allocating an adequate labour force for the plan to be carried out properly is vital, if a certain day requires a few activities to be done simultaneously and there isn�t a sufficient amount of labour on site, then some of these activities will be carried forward which will affect the plan, also the quality of the labour is important to plan as some projects require more experienced artisans. This aspect of planning will most likely happen while the project is going on.

Certain materials need to be checked for availability, batch numbers need to be adhered to especially when it comes to paint as inconsistencies can result in repainting completely.

CONCLUSION

Concentrating on production with regards to painting will have quality issues and a balance can be found between production and quality. Painting should be planned precisely just as any other activity, costs that arise from painting are not always major costs but are definitely costs that can be avoided.

Planning can ensure good workmanship and consistent materials being used throughout the project which are characteristics of quality in the construction industry, planning can also ensure that production is moving at a good pace. It helps find a balance between production and quality and is highly effective in keeping the costs to that which was accounted for.

Planning holds the key in avoiding unaccounted for costs as well as possible quality issues and with proper planning more projects would be a success. Poor planning can lead to major cost implications and there are various issues that can arise with what can be considered a less complex activity, poor planning with more complex activities can have major effects on a company financially.

RECOMMENDATIONS

When building up rates for painting, materials required for quality workmanship should be considered to prevent these materials from not being supplied it will also assist in upper management taking attention to detail with smaller items more seriously.

Construction companies need to consider the importance of proper planning and not adjusting the plan unnecessarily because the success rate of projects can improve.