Quality management in the construction of low-cost houses in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
Phetshula, Monwabisi Goodyear.
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Several studies have revealed that the quality of construction projects in South Africa has long been of concern, as it has been found to be below par. This is evidenced in the reports of poor project performance, poorly implementation processes or worse still, projects delivered at unexpected costs to clients. Both the private and public-sector clients are dissatisfied with the quality of workmanship of the contractors around the country. The most critical issue is that rectification of this sub-standard construction work, especially on many of the low-cost housing projects throughout South Africa, has left the government with huge bills of billions of rands. The main objective of this study was to examine the challenges and benefits of quality management implementation in the construction of low-cost houses in the Amathole Region of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Expert judgemental or purposive sampling method was used to select 75 construction industry professionals for the purposes of conducting this study. Data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire. The results revealed that the construction companies of low-cost houses in Amathole had challenges in managing quality, as evidenced by the projects contribution to the re-work costs that have racked in millions of rands. The current quality management operational systems are fraught with lack of proper communication, use of unskilled labour by the construction companies, as well as difficulties in process implementation. However, the results indicated that the construction companies’ professionals did not find the deficient designs, lack of technical expertise and projects failure being challenging the management of quality at the Amathole low-cost housing projects. The current strategies employed by the construction companies of low-cost houses at Amathole were largely driven by project economy, project timelines and employee buy-in. The results also indicated that focus on these outcomes has resulted in less attention to strategic alignment, clear definition of projects and the overall scope, continuous training and proper planning, as the importance of these strategies was disregarded. The results also indicated that the quality management personnel were not adequately or well-resourced in terms of proper management systems, empowerment in terms of decision-making autonomy, however fairly resourced in terms of quality site visit time, site meetings and best practices benchmarking. The results indicated that overall, the quality management personnel were not well-resourced. To improve on the effectiveness of the current quality management strategies employed, the results indicated that the respondents significantly supported the adoption of ISO certification compliance in future as the perceived benefits of doing that were highly rated. The study recommended the adoption of ISO certification as a quality management system or overall strategy to curb poor workmanship and defects and save the government rework costs that have cost billions of rands throughout the country.