Supervision and quality control
Supervision of building work properly is essential. Lack of supervision can cause major problems for both the contractor and the client.
Your responsibility to supervise
It is the responsibility of the licensed contractor to supervise and coordinate tradespeople working on site. They must:
- individual licensees must ensure any work they are contracted for is personally supervised by them, including any employees or sub-trade contractors under their licence.
- nominee or site supervisors must ensure an appropriately licensed person supervises the work.
- company licensees must ensure the work is personally supervised using a combination of QBCC nominee supervisors, site supervisors, occupationally licensed persons for occupational work and trade contractors who supervise work within their licence class.
All licensees should develop a supervision plan for each job that ensures the work:
- is supervised by appropriately licensed persons (personal supervision)
- that the appropriately licensed person is actively attending the site regularly and is present during important stages of the build process like the frame and slab stage (adequate supervision)
- that each contractor who works on site knows the contact details of the site supervisor. Most licensees now include these details on their site sign at the front of the building site.
Supervising complex and large build projects
These types of projects generally require a number of appropriately licensed individuals to be based on-site on a full-time basis, actively supervising all stages of the build process, with all reporting back directly to the nominee or the construction manager with any issues from the build process.
Supervision as a construction manager
Your obligations as a construction manager are the same as a licensed contractor. You must ensure:
- any work carried out by licensed contractors for a principal (under construction management trade contracts) is supervised by an appropriately licensed person
- adequate supervision.
Certifiers and supervision
A certifier is not responsible for supervision. You and the property owner are responsible for ensuring the building work meets acceptable standards.
A certifier must act in the public interest regarding health and safety but can't supervise or report on the quality of work on an owner's behalf.
Read about the role and responsibilities of a certifier.
High-risk supervision practices
The QBCC is noticing an increase in high-risk engagement of nominee supervisors. The risk factors include nominee supervisors who:
- live more than 300km away from site
- are employed on a casual basis
- are already the nominee supervisor for two or more companies at the time of application.
If one or more of the above apply, you will need an adequate supervision management plan #GLOSSARY for all works carried out in Queensland.
A company can have more than one nominee supervisor. Where work is complex and numerous, we encourage this to ensure supervision obligations are being met.
Limiting defective work with supervision
Costs to fix defective or substandard work can be high. In extreme cases, fixing poor quality work has forced licensed contractors to close their businesses or declare bankruptcy. The best way to ensure quality of work is to ensure adequate supervision.
It is in a contractor's best interest to be diligent about quality control to ensure work is of a high standard and to minimise customer complaints.
- carry out regular on-site inspections with your client to ensure work meets acceptable standards
- include any particular requirements for quality and finish (e.g. type and number of coats of paints) in the contract.
A property owner can use a private building consultant to monitor their project if they would like a more technical person to inspect the work and raise any issues on their behalf.
Accountability of subcontractors
Subcontractors are accountable for defective building work they perform. A subcontractor responsible for defective work must rectify it or face disciplinary action which could result in suspension or cancellation of their licence.
However a principal contractor still has a responsibility to properly supervise all building work completed under a contract.
Principal contractors found not to have provided adequate supervision will face disciplinary action.
What is adequate supervision
In the QBCC Act, adequate supervision means work is properly overseen to ensure that it meets the:
- plans and specifications of the work set out in the contract between the licensed contractor and client
- standard expected of a competent contractor of the appropriate licence class.
Adequate supervision does not necessarily mean that a supervisor must be on-site when every job is done.
The requirement depends on how complex the work is and the skills of the tradespeople involved. In some cases, a supervisor may not be watching over the work as it is happening. Still, it is critical that the supervisor checks the work to make sure it meets the requirements of the Building Code of Australia and any related Australian Standards, plans and specifications of the contract and achieves an appropriate level of quality.
At a minimum, the QBCC recommends inspections at these stages:
- when structural stages of construction are completed (footing, slab, frame and final)
- before the start of significant non-structural stages of construction (e.g. at pre-paint, before fixing stage, or before plasterboard or cladding is fixed)
- before handover to the consumer
- at other times as needed.
Supervisor's checklist for domestic building work
There are many factors to take into account to make sure that building work meets the plans and standards. The list below is a guide to the main items that should be checked when constructing a new building. Some parts of the guide may also be useful for undertaking renovations.
- Mandatory approvals obtained (e.g. development permits for building work, operational works, plumbing, town planning, etc)
- Site description and boundary alignments verified
- Correct level of building platform established
- Earth batters or retaining walls established
- Required fill compaction achieved
- Set back from titled boundaries accord with approval documents
- Building footprint reflects approval and contract documents
- Mandatory inspections undertaken and approved by relevant approving authority
- Relevant plumbing and drainage inspections undertaken and approved by relevant authority
- Excavation, steel reinforcement, concrete placement and compaction accords with approval and engineering documents
- Mandatory inspection undertaken and approved by relevant approving authority
- Plumbing and drainage inspections undertaken and approved by relevant approving authority
- Steel reinforcement, concrete placement and compaction, construction and control joints accord with approval and engineering documents
- Finished slab level accords with any minimum levels set by local government (e.g. flood, overland flow)
- Termite management system in place
- Mandatory inspection undertaken and approved by approving authority
- Frame set out and dimensions accord with approval documents
- All structural elements and wind bracing accord with approval documents
- Ceiling heights and door widths accord with the contract documents and minimum standards set by legislation
- Wall and ceiling framing is plumb and square
- Plumbing rough-in inspection undertaken and approved by approving authority
- Position of final fixtures accord with contract documents
- Electrical supply authority requirements satisfied
- Smoke detector locations accord with approval documents
- Position of final electrical fittings accord with contract documents
- External window and door fitments meet correct wind loading requirements
- External window and door flashings in place
- Correct glass used in areas of human impact risk
- Installation and glazing certificates obtained
- Articulation, construction and control joints correctly positioned
- Wall cavities cleaned
- Weepholes clear and correctly positioned
- Damp proof courses in place
- External cladding waterproofed where required
- Brick cladding plumb
- Roof fixings in place and correct for wind category
- Sarking correctly lapped and placed
- Flashings in place and of compatible materials
- Minimum falls and laps to sheet roofs correct
- Roof drainage and downpipes located in accordance with approval documents
- Downpipe connections adequate for soil conditions
- Roof water discharge to approval authority’s satisfaction
- Site drainage falls adequate
- Site drainage discharge to approving authority’s satisfaction
- Frame checked prior to plaster fixing
- Required back blocking in place
- Expansion and control joints correctly located
- Selected class of finish achieved in accordance with contract documents
- Pre-paint inspection carried out to ensure adequate surface
- Correct paint type used for internal and external environment
- Selected finish accords with contract documents
- Mandatory inspection undertaken and approved by relevant approving authority
- Relevant certification obtained and provided to relevant approving authority
- Driveways constructed with appropriate falls, control and construction joints and surface finishes