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  Eliminating quality issues

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New Zealand is currently experiencing a housing shortage and the building and construction industry is building at a record level. This pressure carries the risk of declining quality in construction. Recent examples of quality issues range from poorly installed insulation, to badly poured concrete slabs and problems with steel reinforcing. 

This programme will help eliminate quality issues by identifying the most common problems and the possible solutions to them. More importantly, it will look at why the industry is not making the necessary changes and explore ways in which they could be encouraged to do so. 

'Quality' in buildings can be defined around three key parameters: 

  1. Functionality: The building meets all of the functional requirements set out in the building contract
  2. Durability: The ability of building materials, components and construction methods to satisfy performance and functional requirements of the Building Code for the expected life of the building without a reconstruction or major renovation (or repair)
  3. Performance: Defined through measurable aspects of the building's design - thermal, structural, seismic, acoustic, etc. Performance, as built, must be verified during construction and upon completion of the building process.

The critical success criteria of this programme are: 

  • The building industry has identified common quality issues that occur in construction
  • The building industry understands why some previous work to solve common quality issues has not been successful
  • The building industry understands the need to change their practices
  • The building industry has determined the best way to reduce the incidence of common quality issues
  • The building industry has eliminated common quality issues by using existing knowledge
  • The building industry has eliminated common quality issues by designing new solutions.

To find out more about the Programme, please contact the Programme Leader, Matthew Curtis.

Research under this programamme include:

We have identified common quality issues that occur in the building industry

What is quality in buildings?

The purpose of this project is to develop a definition of acceptable quality in different building types. This includes both compliance and aesthetic quality. The project will initially focus on generic quality problems, and then look at quality problems specific to particular types of buildings. Base data will come from a new survey on housing construction quality. The project will also assemble a panel of experts to help decide how we identify and assess quality.

Identifying the most common quality issues using a building pathology approach

At present information about quality issues is held privately or in hard-to-access databases. The purpose of this project is to see if it is possible to develop an improved source of information about quality issues and building failures. The data will then be analysed to identify the quality issues that most commonly lead to building failure - what is known as a "building pathology": approach. This information will make it possible to provide the industry with advice on the issues that need to be addressed.

Prioritising quality: identifying key quality issues

Quality issues can range from relatively minor problems to those that are likely to have serious long-term impacts. This project will identify the quality issues that cause the most concern, both from the point of view of owners, and in terms of a building's long-term durability and usability.



We understand why the previous work to solve common quality issues has not been successful

Finding ways of encouraging the industry to adopt new ways

Industry buy-in is essential to eliminate quality issues. However, it is human nature to resist change - particularly when we don't understand the reasons for it. This project will look at the factors that make it more likely those working in the industry will adopt new practices and processes.

We understand how to encourage industry to change their practice

Evidence around quality issues - what can industry data source tell us?

Significant data is collected on the building and construction industry by a range of agencies and organisations across New Zealand. However, these individual datasets only ever tell one part of the whole story about the industry, with limited ability or infrastructure to connect data to derive new insights from it. This project explores opportunities to join existing datasets to gain these insights around building industry quality issues, and second identify ‘quick wins' available to improve performance.


We have determined the best way to reduce the incidence of common quality issues

Work on projects to address this critical success criteria are being developed and will begin in early 2017.

We have eliminated common quality issues by using existing knowledge

Work on projects to address this critical success criteria are being developed and will begin in 17/18.

We have eliminated common quality issues by designing new solutions

Work on projects to address this critical success criteria are being developed and will begin in 17/18