Debugging Affects Quality, Time, and Money

            Quality in housing construction is affected by the extent and thoroughness of debugging because supervision time in the field is a limited resource…in single-family and production tract housing.

            For example, suppose over the course of a typical three-year construction tract housing project a total of 500 previously unanswered questions must be addressed, activities in the field quality-checked, and yes/no decisions made that will take the project construction across the finish-line.

            If people in the field could hypothetically get 100 of those 500 issues resolved upfront through a company-wide debugging program, before the construction starts, then “only” 400 issues/questions remain to be resolved individually during the construction. 

            If 150 problems and questions out of the 500 could be answered upfront through constructability analysis and a checklist of past solved issues…then “only” 350 real problems remain to be resolved during the construction.

            If at the outset of the project…there are 200 solutions and answers to the original 500 problems…then only 300 more remain to be analyzed and resolved during the construction.

            There is a finite numerical limit to the issues and questions that need to be addressed on every building construction project…irrespective of the complexity of the construction and the magnitude of each issue or question.

            The greater the number of problems, questions, and bugs that can be identified upfront and quickly and correctly resolved while the project is still on paper, the fewer the number of problems remain to be confronted and solved during the construction. 

            This translates into more time available for genuine quality-control and manpower production, rather than spent in daily “putting-out fires” in the reactive-mode.

            A building construction project can get quickly into trouble in terms of quality when the number of latent/hidden problems inherently buried in the project…are greater than what can be handled by the field staff. 

            When the field staff is constantly engaged in “putting-out fires”…the construction is forced into a reactive, damage-control mode…which then pushes out the option for genuine quality-control and time-management.

            The benefits of spotting and resolving design and construction problems upfront, before the construction begins, cannot be overstated in terms of quality-assurance.

            Small problems and mistakes, if not caught and corrected early can adversely affect future building trades down-stream in the construction…that can snowball into multiple problems due to the commonly known phenomenon called the “ripple effect.”

            For example, a bowed wall framing stud by itself can be easily removed by the framer…requiring only one repair effort.

            A bowed or twisted 4×6 or 4×8 structural post in the wall framing…with electrical wires running through it requires the framing carpenter and the electrician…if the post needs to be replaced.

            A bowed wall along the floor baseboard…if not discovered until the wall is drywalled, painted, and the baseboard installed…requires three or more separate building trades to repair and straighten.

            A bowed wall along a bathroom floor having square-shaped ceramic tile flooring…that is not discovered until very late at the time of the homebuyer walkthrough…requires not only the framing carpenter, drywaller, painter, and finish carpenter…but also the floor tile installer to replace the tiles at the bowed wall after the wall is straightened.

            The longer a problem or construction bug goes undetected the worse the repair can get…especially in production tract housing involving a large number of units. 

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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