China’s construction industry is the world second largest after the US, with a total output of US$151 billion in 2000 (US Department of Commerce, 2000). With China being a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), influx of foreign multinational corporations and hoisting of the 2008 Olympics, the construction sector is booming (Ling et al, 2005). However, Chinese Contractors are often accused of poor performance and low effectiveness in terms of quality and profitability (Yao, 1998; Sha and Lin, 2001).
Liu (2003) says that the clients, contractors and project teams are often the foci for studying the pursuit of quality in building procurement as they are considered to be the participants in the input-transformation-output process of the quality product. However, quality should not be the Holy Grail for some but a quest by all. It is argued that occupants/users’ feedback of building performance, particularly in the case of repetitive (similar) building forms, provides the most suitable basis for refining future project goals-especially quality-oriented goals; after all, the building functions to serve the users. In evaluating the quality of a construction project, the usual idea is that if the completed project satisfies the client, then it can be said that the quality management process has functioned effectively. However, the evaluation concept is much more complex and leads to questions such as what constitutes satisfaction, who are the claimants on the project whose feelings of satisfaction are important, what is the relationship between project goal attainment and satisfaction and how these issues should inform judgement of the quality of the output?
Quality control is used to monitor specific projects results to determine if they comply with relevant quality standards and identifying ways to eliminate the cases of unsatisfactory performance. Lee and Arditi (2004) say it involves the measuring of the conformance of activities to standards previously set in the quality plan. According to Winch et al (1998), PQP defined quality control as the specific implementation of the quality assurance programme of plan and includes checking and reviewing design related activities. Effectively used quality control reduces the possibility of errors and omissions.
Quality control is one of the project quality management system components. According to PMI, (2000), the project quality management system components include; quality planning, quality assurance and quality control.
Lee and Arditi (2004) assert that the quality of a project is measured by its conformance to a quality plan. They further explain that quality assurance in a construction project involves establishing a programme that will maintain effective quality procedures for the entire duration of the construction project to prevent, correct, identify, segregate and control non-conformities whether they are procedure-related or product-related.
According to Wang et al (2006), Chinese construction firms have changed from satisfying only the state target to achieving normal commercial objectives such as profit maximization, a firm-projected annual output and increased share. As good as that achievement in the industry seems to be, the quality of the output is one of the determinant factors in measuring the success of the construction firms. Therefore the following questions need to be answered in this study.
- What are the quality standards of construction projects in China?
- Are there quality control measures being used to regulate the quality standards of construction projects in China?
- If there are, what are these quality control measures?
- How are they being monitored by the relevant agents
- What are the limitations and constraints attributed to these quality control measures?
- How are the construction firms in China using quality management system to address the three quality management system components (quality plan, quality assurance and quality control)?
- Quality Management Systems (QMS) for construction projects based on ISO 9000 series have been implemented in many parts of the world in recent years. (Kam and Tang, 1997; Kam and Tang, 1998; Ahmed and Aoieong, 1998; Tang and Kam, 1999). Are this system and other similar ones in used in China?
- The implementation of these QMS, according to their reports, is in certain ways successful and in certain ways unsuccessful. Has it been successful or unsuccessful if in use in China?
AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The aim of this study is to assess quality control of architectural construction projects in China. In order to achieve this aim, the follow objectives are proposed:
- To assess quality control measures available in China construction industry.
- To identify and assess factors affecting quality control measures in China construction industry.
- To evaluate the effect of these measures on quality standard of architectural construction projects in China.
- To evaluate the usage of quality management system in China construction industry.
- To establish a relationship between quality control and architectural construction projects quality standard.
In order to achieve the fifth objective, the study intends to test the following hypothesis:
- H0: There is no significant relationship between quality control andarchitectural construction projects’ quality standard.
- H1: There is a significant relationship betweenquality control andarchitectural construction projects’ quality standard.
NEED FOR THE STUDY
Zhang and Liu (2006) affirms that in the past two decades, there has been rapid and extensive economic growth in China that has brought forth major opportunities for the development of its construction industry. For instance, the value of the total investment in fixed assets increased from RMB 91 billion in 1980 to RMB 2,998 billion in 1999 (China National Bureau of Statistics, 2002a, 2002b). With this rapid growth, the ways to improve the effectiveness and quality of Chinese construction enterprises are considered important and the postulation that there is a relationship between quality control and quality output is worth investigation, hence the need for this study.
SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
Construction activities are very wide in scope ranging from building, civil, petrol-chemical to heavy engineering works. The scope of the study will be limited to architectural construction projects in China. Both the public and private architectural projects will form the basis of the study.
In order to be able to answer the research proposal questions, an appropriate methodology of research that can answer these specific questions of the research will be used. Specifically, the research methodology will discuss issues such as the target population, the sampling techniques and sample size, data collection procedure and method of data analysis.
THE TARGET POPULATION
The target population for the study will include the construction firms, the consultants in architectural construction projects, the clients, and the Government relevant agencies all within China. Lists of respondents will be sort from all the relevant construction and professional bodies in China.
SAMPLE TECHNIQUE AND SAMPLE SIZE
China is highly populated such that getting a sample size might be difficult. The lists of respondents according to their categories will be compiled in alphabetical order and respondents will be chosen in arithmetical progression.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Data collection will involve the use of questionnaire to get relevant data while case studies of completed architectural construction projects already completed will be used. Projects where quality control measures are used will be compared with those constructed without the use of quality control measure. They will be compared in terms of the satisfactions that client derive from them. They will also be compared in term of quality standard. The data collection tools will include the use of the internet, postal services, personal visit and telephoning. Data collected will be subjected to appropriate statistical analysis such as the use of mean score, percentile and t-test.
CONFIDENTIALITY AND ETHICS OF RESEARCH
In the course of the research work, all ethical issues in respect of the right and privileges of the respondents will be strictly adhered to. In doing this, the respondents will be brief about the research and will be given assurance of the confidentiality in any information given by them for the success of this research work. Their consents will also be sort. The researcher is aware that he owns the respondents duty of protection and more so, at any point in time the respondents are free to withdraw from participation. The respondents will be informed that if they have interest in the outcome of the research work, they will be duly informed in due course.
EXPECTED CONTRIBUTION TO KNOWLEDGE
The study will contribute to the body of knowledge in the following ways:
- It will help China construction industry in assessing the quality standards of constructions in the industry.
- It will be a source of reference for further studies in future relevant research work.
- It will be an added research work material in the library of research collection.
- The research will act as a catalyst for change in direction in the construction industry in the way projects are designed, provided and delivered.
- It will help the industry in re-engineering the design, procurement and build process to mitigate and reduce the impact of construction costs and increase client’s satisfaction.