The Constructor

Rework in Construction: Its Sources and Causes

Rework in construction

Rework in construction

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Rework is an activity in the field that is required to be repeated or undertaken again after completion of a work due to some impending correction that was necessary to be carried out during the execution of the project. In general, it can be defined as the unnecessary effort of redoing an activity that wasn't performed well the first time.

Rework is undertaken when an element of construction doesn't meet customer requirements or when the completed work does not comply with the actual contract. In either scenario, the product is altered to ensure conformity. But the need for rework may not be discovered until some form of quality control check is performed, based on which the kind of rework required can be ascertained.

The origin for rework can be either external or internal; for example, a change in the clients' requirements is an example of an external factor that might lead to rework. Rework in construction can impact a project in terms of productivity, time, and cost.

Sources of Rework

Errors occur due to a complex range of interactions and, therefore, a singular causative variable can't be segregated for the same. In order to detect and eliminate an error, it is essential to understand the typical nature and underlying dynamics of the error.

Generally, reworks materialize due to primary sources like errors, changes, and omissions.

1. Errors

Errors made during the design process, which then appear downstream in the procurement process, make a significant impact on rework. It has been observed that the longer an error goes undetected, the greater is the possibility of rework.

The extent of rework depends on the duration for which the error remained undiscovered. For instance, a spatial conflict or dimensional error present within the design credentials may go unnoticed until onsite construction has begun.

2. Changes

A change in the design can affect the aesthetics and other aspects of the building, along with the scope and nature of work. Rework due to changes can negatively impact productivity and the overall project performance. Design-related rework in the form of change orders is the main source of rework in construction projects. 

3. Omissions

Omission errors emerge due to strain or distraction, which leads to error-provoking conditions within the project. Some of the reasons are time constraints, understaffing, fatigue, and inexperience, manifesting in unworkable relationships and procedures contributing to rework.

Inability to undertake procedural tasks during the design process and continual design reuse can emerge as practices leading to omission errors. Some work practices implemented by an organization can magnify such errors despite the skills and expertise of the people involved in a project.

Causes of Rework

A lack of coordination and integration from the design team results in design deficiencies and aggravates the causes of rework. The top causes in this category are design errors or changes, shortage of labor, lack of professionalism by the designers, and poor document control.

To avoid such errors, the company should employ experienced and qualified designers to provide accurate and detailed designs. By controlling this aspect of a project, the construction companies and project managers can limit these types of reworks.

Client-related factors leading to rework are primarily due to a lack of experience and knowledge of design and the construction process, lack of client involvement in the project, lack of funding, inadequate briefing and communication with design consultants, and shortcomings in the contract documentation.

This indicates that the clients should communicate and coordinate with their project team members to ensure the on-time delivery of projects. The clients should share the necessary information with the right people and at the right time in order to avoid rework. The onus for efficient management of the project lies on the construction companies as well as on the clients.

3. Site Management Issues

Lack of proper management and supervision, poor coordination among employees, unclear instructions to workers, and excessive overtime lead to errors resulting in reworks. The workers should be given appropriate training and instructions regarding the assigned task. Every employee should have a clear idea about their role at the site to avoid any mistakes and conflicts of interest at a later time.

Under the subcontractor-related factors of rework, the most influential factor is the use of substandard materials, followed by constructability issues. This can be prevented by procuring good quality materials while also considering their prices and availability.

Late delivery and unavailability of materials can cause delays in the project; therefore, the subcontractor should ensure the functioning of a seamless supply chain.

Apart from the materials, the condition and performance of equipment and machinery should also be checked well in advance. These factors include lack of safety, machinery breakdown, and untimely deliveries. A majority of these causes can be avoided by ensuring that the required equipment is in good working condition before beginning construction.

Impact of Rework

Not only does rework have an adverse impact on project performance, the gross implications of rework could be equal to or more than the estimated mark up or profit margin levels. The increase in costs could be due to additional materials for rework, subsequent wastage handling, costs for covering rework occurrences, and extra labor to rectify activities.

Rework also leads to inter-organizational conflict, resulting in decreased supervision and demotivation of workers. The additional time invested in rework and related extensions of supervising workforce eventually results in customer dissatisfaction and reduced profit for contractors.


What is rework in construction?

Rework is an activity in the field that is required to be repeated or undertaken again after completion of a work due to some impending correction that was necessary to be carried out during the project.
In general, it can be defined as the unnecessary effort of redoing an activity that wasn't performed well the first time.

What are the sources of rework?

Reworks generally materialize due to primary sources such as errors, changes, and omissions.

What are the factors that lead to rework?

The causes of rework are:
1. Design-related factors
2. Client-related factors
3. Site Management issues
4. Subcontractor-related factors
5. Equipment-related factors

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