An investigation into quality concerns in house construction in government-subsidised low-income housing projects in the Pietermaritzburg area.
Milne, Martha Maria.
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Ongoing quality concerns in low Income housing have allegedly not been addressed adequately, as has been expressed in numerous speeches and at the Provincial Housing Summit of 2005. This study is an investigation into quality concerns in house construction in governmentsubsidised low-income housing projects in the Pietermaritzburg area. It is informed by total quality management literature. It is motivated by aspects including: (1) government's accountability for public funds; (2) serving as base research for improved resource allocation; (3) and for quality improvement and sustainability strategies; (4) creating an opportunity for introspection by other members in the supply chain; and (5) a responsibility of all stakeholders to realise the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction. Research Design The following research objectives were set: (I) To identify house construction quality concerns in government-subsidised lowincome housing projects in the Pietermaritzburg area. (2) ... To identify the causes of house construction quality problems in the low income housing delivery environment within the Pietermaritzburg area, from the perspective of the developers, municipality and Department of Housing : KwaZulu-Natal. In the context of this research, "developer" is defined as the entity used by the Department or the municipality as an agent for implementing projects. (3) .. To identify how house construction quality issues are currently being addressed. The research was approached in two phases. Phase I was designed to identify whether quality concerns existed in the low income housing projects in the Pietermaritzburg area; and to identify the nature and the extent thereof. Phase 2 was designed to explore the perceived causes of quality concerns, and to identify the systems used by the municipality, its developing agent and the Department of Housing, to ensure sustained quality management. Findings Defects : The findings recorded in Chapter 5 illustrate that there are quality concerns in Pietermaritzburg in relation to government-subsidised low-income housing which were caused mainly by poor workmanship, especially the topping of slabs (i.e., the process in which a final layer of cement is applied to smoothen the floor surface, also refelTed to as "screeding"). The Pareto analysis'indicates that there is a mixture of defect types and causes that need to be addressed, and in order of priority_ These are : (I) screeding; (2) water connection; (3) fitting frames; (4) site clearance; (5) constructions of walls; (6) plumbing, specifically toilet fittings; (7) glazing; (8) corking/filling of gaps; (9) plaster material; (l0) door quality; (11) plaster work; and (12) the quality of frames. Existing systems, norms and standards: Role players are at different stages of advancement with regard to quality and supply chain management. The institutions appear to have an internal focus to quality management that is not customer focussed and lacks information and involvement of all stakeholders. There is no formalised policy on quality management. Such a policy is needed to guide quality improvement and monitoring systems (Gryna, 200 I: 185). The institutions do not appear to have a quality management strategy, or to have a fully integrated quality perspective. Quality assurance and audit process are also lacking. Neither the municipality nor the Department appears to use statistical process control systems to measure and analyse all processes. It appears that the proper infrastructure is not in place to implement a quality management system. Information systems are poor and this is a barrier to effective quality improvement implementation programmes, and to effective project management. There is no common understanding of roles, responsibilities and inspection criteria and processes and internal and external role players are excluded from quality management processes. The management environment and organisational culture within the municipality and the department do not appear to be conducive to encourage a learning organisation approach. Materials quality is not monitored, although it is noted that materials are not perceived to be the cause, and from the sample it is clear that materials have not contributed much to defects. Recommendations: These have been summarised as follows: I. The adoption of a quality management policy that incorporates all stakeholders; 2. The inclusion of quality management in strategic plans with a phased implementation programme; 3. Partnership development and joint planning with all role players; 4. Use of larger contracts, over a longer period of time through a programmatic systems approach; 5. Identification ofbenchmarking partners; 6. The adoption of an audit and assurance mechanism, based on ISO 9000; 7. Development of a learning organisation and change management culture, led from the top; 8. The inclusion of quality performance targets in managers' performance reviews; 9. Clearly defined inspections procedures and documents (including roles and responsibilities), and availability of these on site; 10. Information management systems upgrading; 11. Revision to National Building Regulations in the context of low-income housing; 12. Improved municipal strategies on water connection; 13. On site training regarding topping of slabs, fitting windows and door frames and block work; and 14. Training of all managers and staff on all aspects of quality management theory, tools and techniques, and specifically in relation to low-income housing.
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