How to use building site inspections to improve quality

Building site inspections are sometimes seen as a ‘necessary evil’, another task in a long list of jobs to do to maintain regulatory compliance. Although intended to support work on-site, inspections can be a source of friction between contractors, management and quality and safety teams and be seen as a place to highlight shortcomings and pick fault.

Building site inspector

Used correctly, site inspections are impartial, objective, data-driven tools. They highlight potential issues before serious incidents occur and prevent costly remedial work. Building site inspections provide an open and transparent place for collaboration; they start way before tools hit the earth and continue long after commissioning. For an effective site inspection strategy you need the right tools to drive actionable tasks and robust reporting. Here’s how to make inspections easy, yet effective, using site inspection templates.

Building site inspections: the key to quality, health, safety and environmental control

Site inspections are important to all aspects of a building’s construction. Perhaps most important is the link to building control. Building Regulations 2010 set the minimum standards needed for the design and construction of buildings. The Approved Documents stipulate the practical guidance for ensuring the health and safety for all people who live or work in or around buildings. To meet building control guidance, construction businesses must show a continuing commitment to quality, health, safety and environmental standards and be able to demonstrate this commitment throughout the project. Effective site inspections provide important checkpoints for uncovering and fixing issues, as well as a full audit trail of this work.

There are three main points during the construction cycle where building site inspections typically take place:

  • Before construction – impact and pre-build environment surveys
  • During construction – health and safety, quality control and progress audits
  • At handover – commissioning and final handover checks

Start as you mean to go on

Several inspections need to take place before construction starts. Pre-build impact assessments and surveys establish how, and under what conditions, construction should go ahead. Environmental impact surveys evaluate the effect that a construction site might make on the surrounding environment. Factors such as air quality, biodiversity, waterways and drainage might be considered within this survey. Surveyors should also provide information on how to mitigate these effects. This forms part of the environmental statement for the environmental impact assessment which, in turn, forms part of some planning applications.

Pre-build evaluations also assess the suitability of the site for development. Topological, ecological and structural surveys provide valuable information for the design and construction phases. Dilapidation reports are also created for many larger developments, particularly those close to existing buildings. The reports highlight the potential risk of damage to neighbouring property, as well as the actions needed to reduce it.

Digital documentation software, like PlanRadar, allows businesses to consolidate large datasets and reports into one single source of truth. PlanRadar allows all stakeholders to access information and collaborate in the design and construction stages. Create tasks and checklists covering mitigating steps before construction even starts, ensuring that you take learnings from the pre-build stages into the construction phase. The system allows users to create custom templates for any kind of inspection and turn them into simple tickets to fill in on site. You can then pull the data collected straight into a PDF report template, with no duplication of work.

Developing a framework for fact-based site inspections

Once construction starts, building site inspections become even more important. Site audit teams need to appointed early to agree on quality controls. The resulting building must comply with quality requirements from a regulatory point of view, but also to align with the client’s needs and expectations.

Quality control should not just be a punch list of defects that you discover and fix at the end of a project. Ideally, it’s a continuous process that closely monitors construction daily, capturing potential quality control issues before they become expensive issues. To do this, site audit teams need to pass impartial, factual and objective information to supervisors, senior managers and stakeholders. By focussing on the facts and a pre-determined set of checks, you establish an honest and transparent culture that addresses issues in a timely and fair manner.

Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 stipulate that businesses must assess risks in the workplace and put suitable and sufficient methods in place to prevent accidents or injury. Regular inspections are important to assess risk and prepare for external audits by the client or regulatory body.

Every construction site is different and every project has its nuances, but certain checks are common to all projects. PlanRadar contains a full suite of pre-defined quality control, health and safety, fire and COSHH templates that make audits straightforward and effective. Managers can change forms for specific projects and send them to all site inspectors via the PlanRadar app, accessed through their smartphone.

Regular building site inspections enable construction firms to increase the quality of infrastructure, reduce accidents and injuries on site and decrease the number of complaints to aftercare departments once construction is complete.

Learn more: How CSI~QA uses PlanRadar to help its clients increase the quality of their builds.

Effective inspections lead to action

Building site inspections provide useful information on the status of a site but the real power lies in their ability to drive change. When incidents or defects are identified they must be addressed in a timely and controlled manner. Using PlanRadar, site auditors can identify tasks during inspections and flag them to supervisors with their location on the blueprint. Supervisors allocate tasks to workers along with completion deadlines. Users can then attach documents and images detailing the necessary work. Workers have all the information they need to complete the work and the system sends alerts back to supervisors when they complete tasks. Digital signatures mean that supervisors can sign-off documents remotely and allocate follow up actions without excess paperwork.

The tasks then form part of the site audit trail and filter into the site diary. Full reports can extract all allocated and completed tasks and an easy-to-use dashboard gives a snapshot of total task status. A range of site diary, fire safety, snag and health and safety report templates are available on the PlanRadar app. You can select the pre-made forms or create your own building site inspection templates that meet your needs.

Using inspections to provide a robust handover

Inspections shouldn’t end when construction finishes.

Before handing over a completed site to the facilities teams, all fixed building services must demonstrate performance and optimised calibration. Systems such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), boilers, water treatment, renewable energy, fire, security, elevators and escalators require testing, inspection and signing off before handover. Checklist and inspection forms ensure that the responsible party completes every task. Digital sign off provides an audit trail for disputes.

The handover itself should also be carefully documented, checking off completed training and documentation transfer and listing any post-commission or handover snags. PlanRadar contains predesigned inspection checklist templates that you can pick up and use from day one. Users can monitor all snags discovered through the transparent audit trail and flag any delays or complications to all stakeholders. Finally, you can assign subcontractors to take any necessary actions to resolve issues.

PlanRadar flows seamlessly from construction to facilities management, accumulating thorough documentation and reports. It also provides a tool for ongoing health and safety checks, fire safety inspections and preventative maintenance scheduling and recording.

Gain greater control over your building site inspections and try PlanRadar free for 30 days.