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Building a Quality Assurance System

Use this checklist to see what elements of a quality system your company might be missing.

July 31, 2004
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Many companies already have operations manuals, mission statements, job descriptions or other components of a quality system; use this checklist to see what elements your company might be missing. Note: Use flow charts and brief process outlines wherever practical.


Scope: In the quality manual, define the scope of the services and/or products provided by the company and governed by the quality system.

Quality Statement: Develop a written statement that defines the company's commitment to quality and meeting customer requirements. The quality statement will commit the company to achieving quality results and to following the policies, processes and procedures defined in the quality system. Communicate the statement to all employees and involve the entire organization.

Quality Responsibilities. At a minimum, all employees must adhere to the quality system. Define and document specific quality responsibilities for key positions.




  • Appoint one individual with overall responsibility for management and operation of the quality system.



  • Management responsibilities include demonstrating commitment to quality, providing resources to support the quality system and ensuring that all employees are aware of the quality system and follow those portions appropriate to their job.



  • It is important for a company to inspect its own work. Inspectors' responsibilities include conducting complete and accurate inspections according to the quality plan, documenting non-conformances, verifying correction of non-conformances and insuring each job complies with applicable codes and regulations and meets customer requirements and company quality standards.



  • Crew leaders are responsible for ensuring that crewmembers are capable of performing assigned tasks and that each job complies with applicable codes and regulations and meets customer requirements and company quality standards.

    Work Flow: Document the order of all major activities involved in a project from start to successful completion. Drill down on activities related to determining customer requirements, planning, construction and quality assurance. Also identify the appropriate person, department or crew responsible for each activity.

    Organization Chart: Maintain a documented company organization chart that shows reporting relationships.

    Quality Assurance Plan

    Codes, Regulations and Industry Standards: Ensure compliance with pertinent building codes, government regulations and industry standards. The quality manual must reference the appropriate sections of the codes, regulations and industry standards. Employees must have access to the source materials.

    Customer Requirements: Ensure that the homeowner requirements are clearly understood and communicated. The contractor shall implement a review process to assure the job requirements are completely understood. The review will verify that the contractor is competent and capable to complete the job. Ensure that all changes to the customer requirements are appropriately negotiated, reviewed and approved. Implement a process for ensuring that only the most current drawings and specifications are used for construction.

    Remodeler and Trade Contractor Standards:




  • Workmanship: Document the workmanship practices, tolerances and construction standards to be used. At a minimum, these must meet generally accepted industry practices, industry standards and manufacturer's instructions. When a conflict exists between the trade contractor's practices and other requirements, implement a process for determining and communicating to the trade contractor and homeowner which ones will be used.



  • Materials: Implement a process for evaluating and approving all materials to ensure they are appropriate for the intended use and meet the customer's requirements. When appropriate, ensure that the materials are properly graded, approved, certified or rated. Document approval and have a process to ensure that only approved materials are used on the job.



  • Purchasing: Implement a procedure for selecting, hiring or purchasing only suppliers or materials that can meet the requirements of the job.



  • Equipment: Ensure that proper equipment in good working condition is available for use at the job site. The remodeling contractor is responsible for properly training personnel in the use of the equipment and ensuring that the equipment is used properly.



  • Job Ready: Document the requirements related to job readiness that are required before work can begin at each major stage. Implement procedures for dealing with partially ready jobs, including appropriate communications with the trade contractors and homeowner. Notify each trade contractor of the job ready conditions and policy.



  • Protection of Completed Work: Define and then provide the protection necessary for protecting work once it is completed.



  • Customer Service: Have a process for responding to customer service requests that occur after completion of the job. Verify and record satisfactory completion of each request. Consider the cause and frequency of customer service requests in the identification of recurring defects.

    Calibrations: When using instruments and/or measuring devices requiring calibration, ensure the devices are properly calibrated and appropriate records are maintained.

    Training and Personnel Qualifications: Define and document the appropriate training and qualifications required for key positions, including lead carpenters, production managers and positions requiring professional licensure. Ensure that only competent personnel perform each activity. Keep records of their qualifications, certification, training and licensing.

    Job Site Inspections

    Personnel: Ensure that all personnel performing inspections and/or other quality control procedures are properly trained, qualified and supervised.

    Work Conditions: Implement procedures to ensure that work conditions meet customer and company requirements.

    Materials and Equipment: Verify the condition of materials and equipment prior to use on the job. If defective, damaged or unapproved, ensure that they are not used on the job.

    Correction Items: Mark or identify non-conformances to prevent inadvertent cover up. Record significant correction items and verification of the correction on an inspection record.

    Job Ready: Implement procedures for determining and documenting the readiness of each job. Construction on partially ready jobs will be in accordance with the company's procedures for partially ready jobs.

    In-Process Inspections: Determine appropriate in-process inspections or other quality control measures. Ensure that these inspections are effective in assuring quality. Significant items needing correction and verification of the correction shall be documented. Work that will be covered up and cannot be inspected later shall be inspected prior to cover up.

    Self-Inspected Jobs: When the person doing the work also does the inspection and verification of completed work, this person must be competent to perform the inspection. Implement a process for ensuring the quality of each self-inspected job, including a review procedure to ensure accuracy of self-inspections and quality of work done without second-party inspections.

    Job Completion: Provide documented assurance that the job, at the time it is completed and turned over to the customer, meets homeowner requirements. This may be done as a final inspection. When the trade contractor has defined hot spots, these hot spots shall be verified and documented at the inspection.

    Quality Improvement

    Recurring Defects: Implement procedures for identifying recurring defects (in the office as well as at the job site), assessing their significance, and prioritizing preventive action. Do this at least once per quarter. Document the identified recurring defects.

    Corrective Action Training: Training should be conducted at least once per month to address recurring defects. Implement procedures for evaluating the effectiveness of the training and document the results.

    Preventive Action Training: Implement procedures to ensure new products, materials, technologies, equipment, updated manufacturers instructions, or changes in codes or standards are properly introduced to the organization.

    Customer Feedback: Implement procedures to evaluate customer satisfaction with the work, including customer service. Conduct this assessment at least annually, identifying overall satisfaction as well as specific issues. Consider the results in analyzing the effectiveness of the quality system and initiating changes.

    Quality Performance: Define and track key quality performance measures indicative of the overall quality of work. In addition, track all defects identified by code officials and superintendents even if immediately corrected. Document quality performance measures at least once a quarter.

    Quality assurance system management

    Independent Job Site Reviews: At least once on a short-term job and once a month for bigger jobs, an individual who does not have immediate supervisory responsibility must conduct a random independent review of a job site to verify the effectiveness of the quality system. (Note: Exceptions to this are allowed in small companies where this independence may not be feasible.) Document these reviews and take appropriate corrective actions. When non-conformances are found that call the quality system's effectiveness into question, the frequency of the independent job site reviews must be increased until effectiveness is assured. During one year, these reviews shall be sufficient in number to cover each type of crew and generally represent the remodeling contractor's scope of operation.

    Annual Management Review: At least annually, senior management must review the operation and effectiveness of the quality system. This review includes issues noted in independent job site reviews, customer feedback, complaints/call backs and customer service. Identify and initiate quality system improvement opportunities. Maintain detailed records for each review: the participants, significant issues, conclusions, improvement opportunities and planned changes.

    Quality Manual: The quality manual shall define and document the company's top-level policies, processes, procedures, and documents that assure that customer requirements and company standards are met.

    Document Control: Regularly update the documents of the quality system to ensure they are current and obsolete documents cannot be inadvertently used. These documents include the quality manual, referenced/related procedures, customer specifications and drawings.

    Record Retention: Maintain appropriate records to provide evidence that the processes and procedures of the quality system are being followed. Define a policy for record retention that specifies which records to keep and for how long. Keep records reflecting customer requirements, quality assurance, training records and reviews for at least three years.

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