Completing a construction site audit is never an easy task. The word ‘audit’ alone brings connotations of judgement and the threat of repercussions. Your contractors and other onsite staff may immediately feel suspicious or defensive at the thought of being assessed.
Nevertheless, completing a construction site audit can be incredibly valuable both for the customer and the contractors. It can improve relationships, reduce costs and enhance health and safety. In an industry which has the highest rate of workplace injury and frequent delays, any measure which will improve the management of projects should be welcomed.
What exactly is a site audit and how should you conduct one?
What is a construction site audit?
An audit is an official inspection of a company or its accounts. We typically think about auditing in terms of financial assessments, but it can also refer to other kinds of evaluations. The purpose of an audit is to ensure that work is being conducted to a high standard and in accordance with agreed contracts. It can provide an independent or objective view of progress and the state of a site. It should identify any shortcomings and areas to improve.
Construction site audits can be conducted internally or by external parties. Different people can choose to instigate an audit. Sometimes it is the customer or architect who wish to see if the project is going as planned. Other times it might be the lead contractor who wants to verify whether their subcontractors are sticking to financial agreements. Occasionally a government agency may conduct a site audit – especially for things like health and safety.
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Different kinds of construction site audit
In the construction sector, there are several kinds of audit that could be done. These include:
- A health and safety audit
This is a method for assessing whether or not health and safety laws are being complied with. It will assess things like unsafe walkways, lack of safety stickers, whether staff are wearing helmets and similar issues.
- Financial and accounting audit
When it comes to construction sites, this kind of audit will look at your costs and verify whether money is being spent in line with the agreed contract. For example, it could help you discover if your contractors have bought and installed the agreed materials rather than cheaper options. It could also verify things like the quality of work and if there are any unforeseen delays.
- Project audit
This kind of audit assesses whether the project is in fact following the original plan or if the site manager has veered away from the agreed path.
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How to conduct a site audit
As noted above, there are several types of construction site audit, so you will be looking for different types of information depending on the goal of the inspection. That said, the processes involved in completing site audits are broadly the same.
Let’s look at how to do a site audit.
Compile a list of items to inspect
Whether you are conducting a health and safety audit or a project progress evaluation, it is important to select measurable and quantifiable items to inspect.
For example, if you were to conduct a health and safety audit you would want to assess the state of specific pieces of equipment or activities around the site. You might count how many pieces of equipment will need maintenance soon, whether all staff are wearing PPE or the number of warning signs.
Decide when and how to audit
An audit is an inspection that tries to ascertain the ‘real’ state of things. You will therefore not want to give people too much time to prepare their books or warn site staff that a visit is about to happen. If people have time to prepare, you may get an unrealistic view of the actual site.
That being said, it is occasionally useful to give a few hours’ notice, since your presence on-site could cause delays and interruptions. Also, if your audit focuses more on paperwork or the site diary it will be valuable to give the responsible person time to put the required documents together.
Define what proportion of the site to audit
Inspecting an entire building site could take days or even weeks depending on the size and scale of the project. This is why most site audits only view a percentage of the entire site. Generally speaking, you could extrapolate your findings from one representative section to the rest of the site.
If, for instance, you are inspecting a residential building project with five blocks of flats, it could be sufficient to base your audit findings on an inspection of just one of the blocks.
After completing the construction site audit, you will need to generate a report that summarises your findings. You would usually also include any recommendations for improvements to the project’s management in your site audit report.
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Digital solutions for construction site audits
Construction site audits can be complex and time-consuming, especially if you are using paper and a clipboard. The notes that you take on-site must be transcribed onto a computer later and tallied up. That can be twice as much work, potentially more if you also have to upload photos as evidence. Also, if you use a paper construction site audit report template then you can’t easily customise it to meet your specific needs.
And this is why digital site audit solutions are increasingly popular. By using a site audit app like PlanRadar, it is possible to generate customized building inspection and audit checklists with digital templates. Immediately store all recorded data in a secure cloud environment. You can then generate reports automatically.
What’s more, if your contractors and subcontractors use digital tools like PlanRadar, it is possible to generate some kinds of reports without even having to visit the site.
Modern auditing methods for modern construction
While the notion of audits may still raise concern among some staff, the benefits to you (and them) of completing such inspections are impossible to ignore. And with digital construction site audit apps like PlanRadar, it is easier than ever to complete painless, accurate and reliable inspections.
To see how it works, get started with PlanRadar for free today.
PlanRadar provides innovative mobile-first software solutions to the construction and real estate industries. Our app is available on all iOS, Android and Windows devices. So far, we’ve helped more than 8,000 customers in over 45 countries to digitise their workflow.