WEBINAR ON BUILDING DEFECTS & QLASSIC
The above webinar held via Zoom platform on Tuesday, 14 February 2023 saw 352 attendees attending online. MBAM Deputy Secretary General 1, Ir. Anthony Teoh and Chairman of MBAM Contracts and Practices Committee delivered the welcome speech.
The following were the presenters at the webinar:
General Manager, Safety and Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Department, CIDB, Mr Mohammad Farid A Hamid;
Group Chief Operating Officer and Transformation Officer of Bina Puri Holdings Berhad and Managing Director of Architect Centre Sdn Bhd, Ar Anthony Lee Tee; and
General Manager, Head of Contract Department, Inta Bina Sdn Bhd and MBAM Contracts and Practices Committee Member, Mr Lee Yih.
Almost all home buyers now follow the current trend of hiring building inspectors as soon as they take vacant possession of their property to look for flaws. Their facilities will soon be covered in colourful sticker markers denoting the flaws that suggest shoddily built walls, flooring, ceilings, and fixtures, creating the gloomy impression of a disaster. Unfortunately, contractors are wrongly blamed despite its consequences.
MBAM is very concerned with this trend because ultimately developers will ask contractors to rectify and bear all the repair costs. Some building checkers may have ill-advised house buyers by improperly relying on benchmarks such as Quality Assessment System in Construction (QLASSIC) which is a method used to evaluate the quality of work in construction projects based on the standards set according to construction contract specifications and not to use for individual homes. MBAM has put together this webinar on Building Defects and QLASSIC to seek feedback from members so that the issues faced by members can be highlighted and views by the invited speakers and panellist can be shared with members.
The session also saw a very interactive Q and A session before Ir. Anthony Teoh delivered the closing speech.
One of the very important point we can summarized today is QLASSIC is designed for assessment of quality for a project during construction stage and CIS 7.0 is a tool developed for this assessment.
The results of the assessment is to provide an overall view of the quality level of the project based on sampling inspection primarily visual inspection. The result of the assessment is not used for acceptance or rejection of a project or product.
Ir. Anthony Teoh started the Q&A Session by stating that many house owners engaged Assessor to conduct defects checking using QLASSIC. Is this reasonable? For example, when the wall evenness is 4mm over 1.2m (QLASSIC tolerance is ≤ 3mm over 1.2m), is it considered defects? Additionally, the 3rd inspectors pick and magnify defects which are so minute that one has to go close to the areas to notice the “defective” spots. What’s the guideline on this? Is this guideline spelt out in QLASSIC?
Mr Mohammad Farid said that in CIS 7 there is no guidelines as what is the defects. It all depends on the tolerances in the S & P and the agreement between architect and builders.
If its stated in the Defect Liability Period (DLP) and terms and conditions of Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) then the developer can stop the house buyers from appointing a third party inspector. There is no law stopping a home owner from appointing an agent to help them with the checking. It is their free will to do it.
Ar Anthony Lee Tee then gave his opinion on the matter. The consultants sign off progressively. To deliver this, the developers and the contractors then enter into a separate contract. To do this the developer enter into a contract with the contractor to deliver what is agreed upon in the S&P. The issue here is that the S&P does not stipulate the defects and range of tolerance acceptable. This is left to qualified professionals to do this such as Architects who take a stand and make a declaration. That is why when Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC) is issued they have to declare that everything is being done with the laws of the country and the Unified Building By Laws (UBBL) and so there is no question on the current process. Why are we having issues today are the subjective interpretations put forward. CIS7 states that it is to be used only during construction and not post construction. CIS7 has 200 something items that is bring checked of which 90 percent are visual. These are the architects visual, the developers visual, the builders visual and the buyers visual which cause everybody to see what they want to see. Then these gets reflected in reports and stickers and so forth however these are again taken to tribunal. These has caused the contractor money, their retention sum and they are losing money. The word reasonable is not relevant. It is meant to be benchmark against the S and P which the developers and consultants have engaged consultants to do. For example tiles got many types. CIDB has its own standards of approving i.e. sending to SIRIM to check. The CIS 7 Standard is misleading as it makes people think it is a uniform standard imposed to the whole industry because CIDB is leading the charge to improve quality.
Answering to the question from Ir Anthony Teoh as to who regulates the building inspectors? What can the house buyer can do during vacant possession can get the right products?
Mr Lee Yih gave his opinion that the purchasers can engage who they want but from experience, when contractor refers to the assessor checklist and ask what the list of stickers is about and ask for explanation sometimes the purchasers can’t even explain the matter. Maybe one can refer to ISO 19545-2 version 2018 maybe the induction can be carried out at a distance of 1 meter. A better guideline is needed for the inspection to be carried out. There must be a balance between coat and quality so that everyone can own their own house.
Mr Mohammad Farid stated his opinion that on the more specific inspection, the specific tolerance are specified in MYSEASON and UBBL so no need to specify again. He added that CIS7 is more visual than technological inspection. As technology changes then this may change. CIDB don’t regulate the inspectors. They are like consultants.
Ar. Anthony Lee Tee supported the view on using more empirical method. This is a more objective way of doing things, however the timing is very important. Rather than a reactive response, property developers should subscribe to these methods before VP and CPC and even prior to construction. Because of economic reality every building is built with water and cement and water needs to leave the building and it takes years to settle down to dry out. So shrinkage and cracks are part and parcel of the construction industry due to the nature of this wet trade. He is concerned with the current reports where house owners pay money to get reports that are identifying cosmetic issues but not identifying the root cause of the problems or more do major issues that affect life and safety. He further added that root cause analysis is important to fix it and when parties come to fix it don’t just use PU injection here and there and push the problem to after DLP.
Mr Mohammad Farid also added that the parties should build it with quality during construction to prevent problems later. Ar. Anthony Lee Tee then mentioned that design is also important.
Ir. Anthony Teoh then asked on how about assessment on the design?
Ar. Anthony Lee Tee said “caveat emptor” or “buyers beware”. When you buy a property you are putting most probably your single most valuable investment in your whole life. So do your research, find out who the developers are don’t just jump in. One must look into the track record and delivery of those selling you the project. There is no prescribed bench marking but there are standards and regulations governing health, safety and materials. Ir. Anthony Teoh then touched on the question on PAM’s Practice Note to its member.
Ar. Anthony Lee Tee replied that he encourages attendees to download this Practice Notes from PAM website. Every home has an Ar. or Ir. as the principal submitting person. When a project is declared to achieve CCC there is 21 Departments to get green light from. When a lot of these sticker issues get shown to them, then the PSP had to have this explained. There will be tussle and give and take has to be made for some decisions but it has to be made based on the contract. However, as these standards are unleashed by a group of non-professionals and when this goes to the tribunal and was awarded therein lies the issue. A clear message that needs to be rendered is the Ar. and the Ir. are the sole arbiter to decide the benchmark and the rejection up to CPC and Vacant Possession and during DLP.
Mr Mohammad Farid stated that as far as inspection of completed building CIDB can’t do anything about it as it is all within the contract. After that if the reports are brought to the tribunal it is up to the PSP to be solely responsible for those results. The tribunal is an avenue to challenge the evidence.
Mr Mohammad Farid said that often times if the issues raised are not settled and it goes to the tribunal is because developers or contractors didn’t response to the complaints and preventive action must be done at design.
Mr Lee Yih then gave his views on the matter. Engagement with purchaser and the second engagement is because of the design, there must be early engagement between Contractor and Developer so that during early design stage number of potential defects can be reduced. Ir. Anthony Teoh highlighted engagement between Developer and buyer so as not to over promise which may lead to over aggressive behaviour by buyer.
Replying to the question of in case QLASSIC points is not satisfactory such as getting 62 points, would that lead to rejection of vacant possession or taking over of property and assets?
Mr Lee Yih responded that as explained by Encik Mohammad Farid, QLASSIC is only carried out once to judge quality based on some parameters. In his opinion this should not be a condition precedent to deny issuance of CCC as this is just an assessment to gauge quality.
Ar. Anthony Lee Tee said that about 25 years ago, Sime Darby used to do houses without finishes. Why not but UBBL today don’t quite allow houses to be handed over because certain goings need to be finished. Ar. Anthony stated he thinks our industry has matured and there is cause in point to explore what is done in China where buildings are done without finishes. It is up to house buyers or owners. Of course common properties you need finishes. Ar Anthony Lee Tee said the house buyers hack after handover and many changes anyways so the idea of a house without finishes may have a case. The next question to Mr Mohammad Farid was unless the registration is done through CIDB it is not QLASSIC. Then how this person is qualified to this position?
Mr Mohammad Farid replied that to become a QLASSIC assessor need 2 years working experience in actual construction and must have a related degree. The person just have a good track record and being a member of professional body is better. He added if you are a registered CIDB green card then you can attend the course. Passing the course is another matter. Then it is up to CIDB to accredit as an assessor. He concluded by saying there is no regulatory body as far as building inspectors are concerned.
Ir. Anthony Teoh then stated that Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) in the midst of regulating building surveyors under Engineers act. Building surveyors cannot step in the area of the architects.
Ir. Anthony Teoh then asked on the do and dont’s on vacant possession.
Mr Mohammad Farid suggested to do checking as house buyers and do inspection and mark defects and submit report to developers. Appoint agents if you cannot do it yourself. Ar Anthony stated that when you buy in strata property need to have better scrutiny. Have to consider the entire property and that is the one will bite if not identified as it is common area. Hire a property manager to document these as maintenance will take up 70 percent of property spending on the property.
Mr Lee Yih said the biggest investment in yourself. Look at the functionality and if it is not there lodge in the defects.
Ir. Anthony Teoh then delivered his closing remarks. He thanked everyone for staying until the end. He said that one of the very important point we can summarized today is QLASSIC is designed for assessment of quality for a project during construction stage and CIS 7.0 is a tool developed for this assessment. The results of the assessment are to provide an overall view of the quality level of the project based on sampling inspection primarily visual inspection. The result of the assessment is not used for acceptance or rejection of a project or product. Before he concluded, he invited the attendees to support future MBAM events and apologised for any shortcomings during the organising of the webinar.
Article on “Q&A – On QLASSIC, Defect Inspectors and Vacant Possession”, Master Builders Journal (MBJ) Issue 126
download full article click here