9 Common Causes of Rework in Construction (and How To Fix Them)

The construction industry is the backbone of the economy. From residential and commercial buildings to industrial and civil construction, the global economy is reliant on the construction industry as the foundation for future growth.  

Luckily, the industry is more than up for the challenge. With the implementation of new digital technologies and the shift to more sustainable practices, the execution of construction projects is only getting smarter, faster, and better.

But despite this forward momentum, a major problem persists. Quality. In addition to being a major safety concern for end users, poor construction quality is also unsafe for workers, expensive for construction companies, and negatively impacts reputation.

A recent study found that correcting poor work quality costs construction companies and their customers about $625 billion each year. Further, workers are 70% more likely to be injured during rework than planned work, which impacts over 1 million construction workers and their families each year.

Numbers don’t lie. However, it’s important to also note that this problem is being exacerbated by an overall lack of qualified candidates for job openings. In this blog post, we examine 9 common causes for rework in construction and, more importantly, how to fix them. 

9 Common Causes of Rework in Construction

1. Human Error

Human Error is a Common Cause of Rework by Cumulus

Did you know that over half of construction defects are caused by human error? Yikes. Factors like unskilled workers, inadequate training, and insufficient supervision can be major contributors to quality problems and mistakes. 

While human error may seem harmless enough, these mistakes can cause major safety and sustainability problems. For example, when bolted joints are incorrectly tightened, they can cause leaks that emit over 170 million metric tons of greenhouse gas annually.

The good news is that human error can be solved by incorporating technology into error-prone processes. For example, connected worker technology can help by providing step-by-step instructions with interactive diagrams to ensure that the work is done right.


2. Poor Quality Materials

Poor Quality Materials are a Common Cause of Rework by Cumulus

Materials are crucial to the overall quality of a construction project. If there is corrosion, improper sizing, or any other type of subpar quality, it can compromise the integrity of the entire project. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. 

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to avoid the safety hazards and unpredictability of poor quality materials. With so many different materials arriving at different times and locations, quality personnel have their work cut out for them to verify the integrity of the materials.

The best way to ensure that materials meet quality standards is only order from trusted vendors, then implement a stringent quality check process when the materials arrival on site. As a catch-all in case something slips through the cracks, always empower craft with the right tools to proactively identify and manage poor quality materials.


3. Inaccurate Field Information

Inaccurate Field Information is a Common Cause of Rework by Cumulus 

Recent studies have found that workers spend 35% of their time looking for project data or information, mitigating mistakes, managing rework, and handling conflict resolution.  

Currently, many welds, flanges, and electrical connections are manually tracked without a proper digital data model. This contributes to missing or inaccurate data, rework, unplanned downtime, and a general disconnect between field and office teams. 

To solve this problem, implement a centralized digital solution that allows authorized users to update project data from the field via their mobile devices—without having to go back to the office. 


4. Dated Tools

Dated Tools are a Common Cause of Rework by Cumulus

Few will dispute the importance of tools when it comes to quality construction. Yet for so many projects, the tools used are dated, subpar, and…not digital. This leaves a lot of room for mishandling of equipment and general human error. 

Connected tools can sync with a centralized system via Bluetooth to provide real-time work updates. This increases bandwidth on quality professionals, while decreasing the amount of time that needs to be spent on work completions. 


5. Miscommunication

Miscommunication is a Common Cause of Rework by Cumulus

Communication problems are a major source of quality problems. When a field team has incomplete or inaccurate information about scope of work, mistakes are bound to happen. Often, the quality assurance team will catch these problems—but not without having to dedicate significant resources to make fixes. This can compromise the entire project budget and timeline. 

The simplest way to avoid miscommunication between field and office teams is to provide a straightforward and intuitive way to communicate in real-time. This can be as simple as a mobile or tablet app that gives up-to-date instructions to the field, then provides work updates back to the office. 


6. Subcontractor Mistakes

Subcontractor Mistakes are a Common Cause of Rework by Cumulus

When a subcontractor doesn’t do their job right, this can send an entire project into disarray. Often, this is caused by a lack of quality employees being hired to perform the work. It follows that it is crucial to project integrity to properly screen and manage subcontractors.

Once a subcontractor begins work, it’s important to have a way to track progress and results to ensure that work is being done according to specifications. Often, the best way to do this is to create workflows specific to each work completion to guide the work being done. 


7. Version Control

Version Control is a Common Cause of Rework by Cumulus

When plans change last minute, it can cause confusion in the field. Some work may still be executed according to an older plan version, while other areas adhere to the newer version. This makes for exactly the right chaotic conditions for an expensive (and dangerous) problem to occur.

Avoid this problem enforcing strict deadlines by which any and all changes must be submitted by. These deadlines should leave enough time to thoroughly review any changes before they are put into action.

Further, all plans and work instructions should be tracked and executed digitally. Paperwork is a recipe for version control disaster.


8. Tedious Work Completions

Tedious Work Completions are a Common Cause of Rework by Cumulus

Too often, work completions take hours to handle because they still involve dated paperwork processes. What should be a streamlined review process ends up being tedious and time-consuming. This leads to procrastination, inaccuracies, and a general lack of organization.

Without an easy, digital work completion system, missing or inaccurate information can often go unnoticed—creating big problems in the event of an audit at a later date.

Luckily, there’s an easy fix for this. By implementing a digital, cloud-based system, project teams can save over 2 hours on paperwork—per work completion. Plus, everything is organized intuitively and stored on the cloud for easy retrieval in the event of an audit. 


9. Ineffective Quality Improvement Process

Ineffective Quality Control is a Common Cause of Rework by Cumulus

If your project has had a quality problem in the past, the last thing you want is to repeat that same problem for a second time. Any effective quality improvement process will have a systematic approach to learn from past mistakes to ensure that it doesn’t become a recurring issue.

When it comes to quality improvement, data is king. When you are effectively tracking your work digitally, you unlock a valuable set of data that can do way more than just prevent problems from occurring a second time. It can be objectively analyzed to help identify future problems before they occur, streamline work practices, spot the most (and least) effective workers…and that’s just the beginning. 


Final Thoughts 

Upholding the highest quality standards is crucial for maintaining the reputation of the entire construction industry. Additionally, quality problems can cause significant loss of materials, money and productivity—causing projects to finish late and over budget.

Ready to combat quality problems by connecting your workforce with a centralized, real-time platform? Email info@cumulusds.com to get started on creating your very own digital twin of the workforce.