Construction companies are facing increasing pricing pressures. In an attempt to bring their costs down they are shopping for materials around the world. But do these materials comply with local standards? Are they reliable? Are they safe to use? What hidden dangers do they pose to future occupants of the facility?
Recent fires in apartment buildings have highlighted the risks of using construction materials which are non-compliant. We’ve also seen new buildings with products that contain asbestos, and taps and valves that leach lead into drinking water. These products can have fatal consequences.
Indeed faulty products seem to pop-up in all industries. We have recently seen the worldwide recall of millions of motor vehicles from manufacturers we thought we could rely on for quality. Locally there have been recalls of faulty washing machines, heaters and lights which caused fires.
We live in a global environment where thousands of products can be imported from anywhere in the world, often produced in a country with regulations different from those where the product will be used, or perhaps where quality procedures aren’t as we expect them to be.
Unfortunately owners are often also complicit in this problem, regularly selecting, specifying or approving the use of products that aren’t compliant, just to reduce the cost of their building so they can make more profit.
Procuring new and innovative construction materials present many new opportunities and possible reduced costs. However, they do pose challenges.
Dangerous or faulty products will have to be replaced at additional costs. Products that have caused death or health problems could lead to the affected parties suing the contractor for damages. Using products which are dangerous will impact the contractor’s reputation and invariably lead to bad media attention.
What you need to consider when procuring construction materials
When construction products are procured from a foreign supplier it’s important to ensure:
- the items will comply with the project’s standards and specifications (other countries use different standards)
- the items are approved for use in the country where the facility is located
- the items are safe to use
- the tradespeople installing the product have the required skills and training required to install the product
- the items are compatible with local products
- spare parts will be readily available
- warranties and guarantees will be valid
- there are no additional costs for the importation of the items, such as additional taxes and import duties
- the transport costs are factored into the overall cost
- the product has lifetime and maintenance expectations similar to the comparable local product
- the product is being installed in locations it’s designed for, and faces conditions similar to the ones where it’s been tested
Even when procuring from local suppliers ensure that the products comply with the local specifications. Don’t just accept their word. Do your own research.
Conclusion – don’t let your money saving tactics cost you money
Replacing a product that doesn’t comply with the local specifications or conditions could be very costly for contractors and owners. It may result in the facility being shut-down. But worse still, consider the potential dangers such as posed by the fire risk as discussed in recent articles. Would you want to be responsible for the death of occupants of a facility you built because you tried to save a few dollars and used a non-compliant product?
Are your construction materials compliant?
Have you as a contractor installed non- compliant or faulty products? What was the outcome?
Do you want to learn more about managing construction projects?
Paul Netscher has written several acclaimed easy to read construction management books for owners, contractors, construction managers, construction supervisors and foremen. His books include ‘Successful Construction Management: The Practical Guide’, and ‘Building a Successful Construction Company: The Practical Guide’, and ‘Construction Management: From Project Concept to Completion’. These books are available in paper and ebook from most online stores including Amazon. Paul Netscher is also available to help your construction project or company. Visit www.pn-projectmanagement.com for more info.
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