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Make Building Inspection a Norm (Part 3)
 
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Make Building Inspection a Norm (Part 3)
Posted Date: Jun 01, 2008
By: HBA

Location, rental yield, capital gain, freehold or leasehold, surrounding development and facilities are some of the most frequent topics asked by home buyers or investors before making the final decision in any property purchase. But, how many home buyers or investors are actually serious about product quality? Shoddy workmanship is always the last issue to be emphasised and the first issue to be compromised.

Some quality-focused developers actually set up in-house QA/QC team to supervise and monitor the quality of the workmanship throughout the construction period. Moreover, some developers actually adopt CONQUAS 21 or QLASSIC as their independent assessment to benchmark the quality of the project. However, are the in-house QA/QC supervision and independent sampling assessment good enough to ensure the quality of the workmanship? 

The Promise

You might have come across some project signboards or marketing brochures from developers that state: “This project will be assessed under CONQUAS, Building & Construction Authority (BCA), Singapore”.  However, how many of us have actually seen the CONQUAS score published after completion of the project? There are only a few developers who actually reveal and publish their CONQUAS or QLASSIC Score after assessment. In fact, there are some developers who decide to “disclose” the assessment score for certain reasons. Most of the time, poor quality workmanship is the major reason! 

Currently, QLASSIC assessment is provided by CIDB, Malaysia at no cost. However, due to lack of awareness and confidence in QLASSIC, there are only several developers who have engaged CIDB, Malaysia to assess the quality of their projects by using QLASSIC.

In contrast, CONQUAS 21 is more recognised and accepted by developers as well as home buyers in the country. Today, CONQUAS 21 in not only being used in its country of origin, Singapore, but is also widely adopted in Australia, Korea, Malaysia as well as China. 

For the CONQUAS assessment, there will be assessment costs. Due to the higher quality and more stringent standards used to gauge the quality of the workmanship, the construction costs for a project undergoing the CONQUAS assessment is higher than the average costs of a project.

The actual fact is, these additional costs have been factored into the selling price and we (home buyers) are actually paying for it.  However, is the quality of works delivered compatible with the amount of money that we have paid and equivalent with the quality of works promised by the developer?

The Standards

As mentioned in our previous article, there are four main components (Civil & Structural Works, Architectural Works, M&E Works and External Works) being assessed under CONQUAS and QLASSIC.  However, due to logistical constraint, only Architectural Works and M&E fittings are being inspected under the CONQUAS assessment (for projects outside of Singapore). As such, we will reveal some of the common standards for Internal Finishes and M&E fittings as stipulated in the CONQUAS or QLASSIC.

Basically, defects or non-compliances have been grouped into five categories according to the different areas of assessment. Below are some of the common non-compliances according to CONQUAS 21/QLASSIC:

Floor & Wall
i) Finishing

  • No stain marks
  • Colour tone shall be consistent
  • Floor divider provided where required (for floor only)

ii) Alignment & Evenness

  • Evenness of the surface (shall not be more than 3mm over 1.2m)
  • Falls in wet areas shall be in correct direction (for floor only)
  • No ponding in falls for wet area (for floor only)
  • Skirting size and joint aligned with floor if of same material (for floor only)
  • Walls meet at right angles

iii) Cracks & Damages

  • No visible damage/damage on the floor finishing (e.g. chipping, crack, scratches and etc)

iv) Hollowness

  • No hollow sound when tapped with hard object

v) Jointing

  • Straightness of corner and joints

Ceiling
i) Finishing

  • No stain marks
  • Consistent colour tone
  • No patchy surface

ii) Alignment & Evenness

  • Overall surface shall be smooth and even, not wavy
  • Straightness of corners

iii) Crack & Damages

  • No visible damage e.g. spilling, leak, cracks and etc

iv) Roughness

  • No rough surfaces

v) Jointing

  • Consistent, aligned and neat

Door, Window & Component
i) Joints & Gaps

  • No visible gaps between frame and wall
  • Consistent joint width and neat joint
  • Consistent gap between door panel/window leaf and frame. The gap shall not exceed 5mm (for timber window and door only)

ii) Alignment & Evenness

  • Aligned and levelled with wall
  • Frame corners maintained at right angles
  • Frame and leaf to flush

iii) Material & Damages

  • No stain marks and any visible damage
  • Consistent colour tone
  • No sign of corrosion on frame or panel
  • Glazing clean and evenly sealed with putty, sealant or gasket

iv) Functionality

  • Ease in opening, closing and locking
  • No squeaky sound when open or close

v) Accessories Defects

  • No sign of corrosion
  • Countersunk screws levelled and flushed, no over-tightened screws
  • No missing or defective accessories
  • Lock set with good fit and aligned

M&E Fittings
i) Joints & Gap

  • No visible gap
  • Consistent joint width and neat

ii) Alignment & Evenness

  • Aligned, levelled and straight

iii) Material & Damages

  • No visible damage/defects
  • No stain marks
  • Securely fixed
  • Consistent colour tone

iv) Functionality

  • Functional and safe

v) Accessories Defects

  • No missing accessories
  • No visible damage/defects

(Source: Summarised from CONQUAS 21 and QLASSIC manual)

The Actions
A promise without realisation is a lie. A standard without implementation is still just a statement. A promise can be made and a standard can be set, however, shall there be no commitment and actual actions from developers, consultants and the government, what has been planned is still a plan. As such, there is no way for us to improve the construction quality standard in our country and not even mention to deliver superior quality of houses for the nation.

There are some suggestions that can be put into action by the government, developers, contractors or home buyers in promoting the construction quality standards in the country:

  • To regulate and make the QLASSIC assessment a compulsory assessment in the country. The assessment scores, developers and main contractors involved in the projects shall then be published on the website as a reference for the home buyers before making their decision to purchase any property from the developers.
  • To implement 100 per cent quality or defects inspection prior to hand over of units to the home buyers. An independent building inspector or construction quality consultant can be engaged by developers to gauge the quality of the contractor’s workmanship. The developer shall then get the contractor to rectify the defects detected before handing over. By doing so, the best quality can then be delivered and eventually it will achieve higher customer satisfaction and minimise the complaints or rectification cost after handing over. However, how many developers are willing to commit to assuring the quality of the works? Based on our current practice, in-house QA/QC team or Clerk-of work are unable to deliver satisfactory quality assurance on the quality of works constructed.
  • To make building inspection a norm for home buyers after taking vacant possession of the property. If the developer is unable to assure the quality of works that they are going to deliver, we as home buyers have no choice but to engage our building inspector to inspect the building and get the developer to rectify whatever shoddy workmanship that we find in the building. By doing so, the rights of home buyers will then be protected and provide an additional audit on the quality of works delivered by the developers.

Conclusion

Building inspection is a very common process overseas before the purchase of any property. Don’t let our “tidak apa” (never mind) attitude compromise the quality that we deserve and don’t let the existing shoddy workmanship cover up our rights. Construction Industry Standard (CIS:7) or QLASSIC has been established by government agencies, various professional bodies and associations with the objectives of improving the quality of workmanship in the construction industry and to resolve the dispute among various industry players on the quality standard that long existed in our country. 

Today, quality is one of the success factors in property development. A superior quality of product will definitely speak for itself, directly promoting the reputation and minimising the rectification costs after handing over. Whether the developers want to take a step ahead to get the defects detected and rectified before hand over or to leave the defects to the home buyers after vacant possession solely depends on their commitment towards quality and responsibility towards home buyers. As for us home buyers, just make building inspection a norm and we will be protected. 

NATIONAL HOUSE BUYERS ASSOCIATION [HBA]
No. 31, Level 3, Jalan Barat, Off Jalan Imbi, 55100, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2142 2225 | 012- 334 5676 | Fax: 03-22601803

Email: info@hba.org.my | Web Site: www.hba.org.my
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