In addition to the various organizational bodies involved in quality control, issues of quality control arise in virtually all the functional areas of construction activities. Forexample, insuring accurate and useful information is an important part of maintainingquality performance. Other aspects of quality control include document control (includingchanges during the construction process), procurement, field inspection and testing, andfinal checkout of the facility.Back to top
13.3 Work and Material Specifications
Specifications of work quality are an important feature of facility designs. Specifications of required quality and components represent part of the necessary documentation to describea facility. Typically, this documentation includes any special provisions of the facilitydesign as well as references to generally accepted specifications to be used duringconstruction.General specifications of work quality are available in numerous fields and are issued inpublications of organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials(ASTM), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), or the ConstructionSpecifications Institute (CSI). Distinct specifications are formalized for particular types of construction activities, such as welding standards issued by the American Welding Society,or for particular facility types, such as the
Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges
issued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Thesegeneral specifications must be modified to reflect local conditions, policies, availablematerials, local regulations and other special circumstances.Construction specifications normally consist of a series of instructions or prohibitions forspecific operations. For example, the following passage illustrates a typical specification, inthis case for excavation for structures:Conform to elevations and dimensions shown on plan within a tolerance of plus or minus0.10 foot, and extending a sufficient distance from footings and foundations to permitplacing and removal of concrete formwork, installation of services, other construction, andfor inspection. In excavating for footings and foundations, take care not to disturb bottomof excavation. Excavate by hand to final grade just before concrete reinforcement is placed.Trim bottoms to required lines and grades to leave solid base to receive concrete.This set of specifications requires judgment in application since some items are notprecisely specified. For example, excavation must extend a "sufficient" distance to permitinspection and other activities. Obviously, the term "sufficient" in this case may be subjectto varying interpretations. In contrast, a specification that tolerances are within plus orminus a tenth of a foot is subject to direct measurement. However, specific requirements of the facility or characteristics of the site may make the standard tolerance of a tenth of a footinappropriate. Writing specifications typically requires a trade-off between assumingreasonable behavior on the part of all the parties concerned in interpreting words such as"sufficient" versus the effort and possible inaccuracy in pre-specifying all operations.