Phase 4: Operation


These activities look at how a focus on quality at all stages of the build can minimise the number of defects that must be made good, and explore the practical steps taken to record defects and agree what should be rectified.

  • You can use Clear for everyone, in Handover documents, below, as a quick introduction.

The activities can be explored in two sessions:


  • Use Preventing defects for this activity.
  • Consider some mistakes that might occur and why they might happen.
  • Discuss how a QP and QMS can help to prevent defects throughout a project.

Main activity

  • List the stages in a construction project, starting with initial designs.
  • Organise your list of defects within this, in the form of a timeline or concept map.
  • For each mistake, agree the most important step that could have prevented it.
  • In small groups, students prepare their quality brief for project leaders.
  • Make the most of opportunities to link PLTS to a real-world setting.
  • Students could organise their briefing around a specific trade, or as a general briefing about relevant skills such as team working, communication, problem-solving etc.


  • Get each group to offer what they think are their most important ideas – for example two per group. Use these to create a ‘master’ list of ideas for the class.
  • Encourage students to put these ideas into practice!


Easier/Level 1:
Create a timeline on the board, including design, technical drawings, materials procurement, equipment procurement, groundworks, foundations etc. Add an example activity for each one, to start students’ thinking.

Explore a real QMS with the group or get students to research these on the internet and report back their findings in a report or presentation.


Fundamentally, quality is about getting it right first time. From a student’s perspective, this is often about doing the right thing on site, not just the quick or easy option.

Building magazine holds an archive of stories of interest to students, including:

How an increasing demand for ‘iconic’ buildings and cutting-edge designs can lead to increased defects:

Some contemporary and historic building disasters:

Defects in the Wimbledon Media Centre:

You can direct more able students to the web links above, or adapt each article to use as a case study to explore how defects can arise.

More able students can also search for key words and browse other articles of interest at:


Architects Journal

Contract Journal

Construction News

Building Design

Answers: Preventing defects

Students could consider the following as important in preventing defects:

Skills: Craft trade skills and ability to use tools to measure, cut, drill etc., communication (eg to check if correct or to ask for assistance, information), literacy and Numeracy (to read and interpret diagrams, plans and instructions), teamwork, self-management (to plan work and put jobs in order).

Qualities: Patience, perseverance, willingness to do one’s best, reflection (ability learn from mistakes and do better next time).

  • This next activity links to the following one, and to a general discussion of what a standard construction contract (e.g. JCT 2005) provides as a warranty. With Level 2 students, especially the more able, you could include a discussion of warranties and how a contract will detail the type of defects that are within and beyond the constructor’s responsibility.

Snag sheets and making good


  • Consider some small defects that you might experience in a new building.

Main activity

  • Using Snag sheets, open the slide presentation and print off blank snag sheets.
  • Explore the slides and fill in the snag sheets.
  • Split students into pairs to complete their role-play.
  • Use Making good to think about how each snag could have been prevented.
  • Explore how the users of a new building can cause breakages that might not be covered.


  • Review the idea that defects affect a company’s profits and reputation.


Easier/Level 1:
Complete as a whole class before getting students to work in pairs to think about how each one could have been prevented.

Explore the idea of a warranty, especially longer-term issues surrounding services and installations that may need regular servicing (e.g. HVAC) in order to stay under warranty protection.

Larger defects must also be remedied: consider something like the Millennium Bridge – this was closed after opening so that the designers could modify the structure to prevent wobbling.




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