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Qlassic case of setting high standards

QUALITY of construction work and material used are among the main concerns among property buyers.

Many purchasers often have no choice other than to keep their fingers crossed and hope that the workmanship and the material used to construct their properties will be of acceptable quality.

Construction Industry Develop-ment Board (CIDB) Malaysia senior general manager Datuk Elias Ismail said because quality was a subjective matter, the board had come up with a system called Quality Assessment System In Construction (Qlassic) in 2006 to set a standard across the board.

“Qlassic is a system to measure and evaluate the workmanship quality of a building construction based on the Construction Industry Standard (CIS), through a scoring system.

“A one-time site inspection is done and marks are given if the workmanship complies with CIS. The marks are added to give total score in percentage.

“The categories of buildings that can be accessed using Qlassic are landed housing, stratified housing, building for public use such as offices and schools, as well as special buildings such as hospitals and airports,” he said.

Elias said they had been promoting Qlassic, to the contractors registered under them, since its implementation but progress was slow.

As of last year, almost a decade after implementation, only 6% of projects in the country were assessed using Qlassic.

“Only 270 out of 4,512 projects were assessed using Qlassic in 2015, out of which 131 was in Selangor and 14 in Kuala Lumpur. This year, so far, we have assessed 120 projects.

“Because of the slow response, we see the need for Qlassic to be demand-driven,” he said.

Elias said to begin with, it would be mandatory for all Government projects exceeding RM50mil to be assessed using Qlassic from 2018.

“Under the Construction Industry Transformation Programme (CITP) 2016-2020, the target was for more than 50% of public projects to exceed 70% Qlassic score, which is considered acceptable.

“To tap into the private projects, we need the pressure from potential buyers.

“If there is a demand for buildings to be assessed using Qlassic, the developer will be pressured to hire skilled workers and use good material to get high scores.

“The scores can be used as a marketing tool to convince potential buyers of their quality of work for future projects,” said Elias, adding that the highest Qlassic score to-date was 88%.

Elias said the system had also helped developers identify their contractors’ weaknesses.

“All developers strive to create a better reputation for themselves.

“In the Qlassic report, we specifically state the parts with low scores; for them to improve on those areas.

“The contractors can then identify and send their workers for training in the relevant sector,” he said.

Elias said ideally, CIDB would want a clause in the sales and purchase agreement about the minimum Qlassic score required.

“For example, if there is a clause that states the Qlassic score should not be less than 70%, and the developer fails to deliver, the buyer has the right to be compensated accordingly.

“The developers may have second thoughts about adding this clause due to fear of scoring poorly in the Qlassic assessment.

The significant gap shows poor alignment as the floor is uneven.
The significant gap shows poor alignment as the floor is uneven.

“That is why we need consumers to demand for it; following which the developers will have no choice but to comply.

“Since Qlassic is a one-time assessment, the contractors will be more determined to do things right the first time and of course every other time,” he said.

Singapore also has a similar system in place called Construction Quality Assessment System (Conquas) which has been around for more than two decades and widely applied for government and private building projects.

According to Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority, besides Singapore, Conquas was also used for various projects in Malaysia, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, India and Vietnam, among others.

Elias said CIDB also wants Qlassic to achieve such acceptance in the country and internationally.

Elias says the success of Qlassic will be faster if it is demand-driven.
Elias says the success of Qlassic will be faster if it is demand-driven.

National House Buyer Association (HBA) honorary secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said back in 2006, the Works Ministry assured HBA, who were invited to participated in the first launch of the Qlassic book, that it would be made mandatory throughout Malaysia to have a quality standard.

“When we buy electrical appliances, we have the Sirim stamp, but why is there no proper endorsement by authorities for construction?

“It is good that CIDB has come up with Qlassic but the problem is that it is voluntary and not made mandatory.

“When we had a discussion with the then minister, he assured us that it will be made mandatory to all developers in three to four years time.

“However, until today it is still under voluntary basis.

“Certain developers use Qlassic as a marketing tool. For example they claim to have Qlassic endorsement and accreditation and convince buyers that their quality was assured,” he said.

Chang said CIDB and the Works Ministry should consider making it mandatory for all construction projects in the country.

“This is to ensure properties purchased by buyers are defect-free.

“I would also like to advise buyers not to be tricked by developers who claim their project is endorsed by Qlassic.

“I understand that only some elements are endorsed and not the entire construction.

“Developers need to be transparent about what exactly they are endorsed for,” he said.

Crack and damage on the ceiling is a no-no.
Crack and damage on the ceiling is a no-no.

Qlassic trainer and assessor Joshua Kang said that Qlassic assessment was divided into four components – structural works, architectural works, mechanical and electrical (M&E) works and external works.

“For structural and parts of M&E works, the assessment must be done periodically, at different stages of construction to check on the material used such as concrete, wiring and piping.

“All these are sealed once the building is completed.

“Although all components are important, CIDB does not have the manpower to conduct checks on all elements yet. So, we are only offering checks on architectural works, external works and part of M&E.

“Developers and contractors are also not keen on us checking as they have engineers on site to do the job.

“For most housebuyers, their concerns are mainly about the finishing – the walls, floor, tiles and alignment. Developers also face a lot of problems in this area.

Most aspects of the assessment can be done visually like spotting the damage on the material used for this door.
Most aspects of the assessment can be done visually like spotting the damage on the material used for this door.

“However, we are in the midst of recruiting and training more assessors with the hope that in two years time, we will be able to offer a full assessment.

“At the moment, we offer assessment on architectural, external and part of M&E works. There is a nominal fee of RM500 as we are still in the promotional phase,” said Kang, who is also a technical committee member of the seventh edition of CIS.

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia Kuala Lumpur chairman Tan Ching Meng said CIDB needs to bring Qlassic to a level where buyers appreciate it, in order for it to be effective and successful.

“For Conquas in Singapore, a certificate is issued to every unit with a mark on their quality, similar to the green marks. This document is passed on when the property is sold.

“There is a tendency for property buyers, now, to hire building surveyors to help check their units to file complaints.

“For Qlassic to be effective, it has to be made relevant to all stakeholders to accept the idea.

“CIDB needs to promote and educate the public more about Qlassic. Everyone likes a higher score and surely developers would want to be up there with high scores too.

“Nobody wants to buy from developers with constant low marks in quality work.

“With a certificate, the buyer can command a higher price for his property based on the score his unit has obtained,” he said.

Central Region , CIDB , Qlassic , assessment