How to use workmanship and quality in construction documents

The terms workmanship and quality are often used interchangeably; however, the correct usage of one may be dependent on the other, and there are limitations on how each term should be used.

10/01/2013


Workmanship is not defined in Division 01 – General Requirements or the American Institute of Architects A201 – General Conditions of the Contract for Construction. The American Heritage Dictionary defines workmanship as "1. The skill of a craftsperson or artisan. 2. The quality of something made, as by an artisan. 3. Something made or produced by workman. 4. The product of an effort or endeavor." As there is more than one definition that could pertain to construction, it is not clear which definition is suitable for use in a construction contract.

 

Additionally, one must clearly specify if the workmanship in question pertains to the manufacture of the product, the installation of the product, or both.

 

Workmanship therefore must be linked to specific and measureable qualities, and general statements such as "good workmanship" should be avoided unless used in a fashion that establishes a level of quality. When qualifier's such as "good" are used, they must be used carefully. If the term is not defined within the project documents, adding an additional undefined term introduces a level of ambiguity into the term. Legally, unless defined in the project documents, "good workmanship" is subject to what is called "personal taste". Personal taste is subjective – what is "good" to one person may be merely adequate to another.

 

Defining such qualifiers can be done in several places in the specifications, such as using standards and codes as established benchmarks; requiring a certain level of qualifications for the trades, manufacturers, and installers involved in the project work; and acceptable tolerances of the finished work.

 

An example of establishing such a level of workmanship is to reference trade association standards. For electrical work, the National Electrical Contractors Association's National Electrical Installation Standard NECA 1-2010, "Good Workmanship in Electrical Contracting," is referenced in Article 110.12 of the National Electrical Code. NECA 1 defines "neat and workmanlike manner," and if the standard is referenced in the specification, it may be used as a general term in certain conditions.

 

Quality is another term that is not defined in either Division 01 or A201. While there are also several definitions for quality in The American Heritage Dictionary, the first, "an inherent or distinguishing characteristic; a property," is adequate when used in construction.

 

However, much like workmanship, quality should not be used on its own and needs to be defined when used as a qualifier in grammar. A certain quality of construction is reached by qualifying (defined as "to describe by enumerating the characteristics of or qualities of") the tolerances, finish, operation, or build characteristics of the product. The concept of good, better, and best as they relate to increased tolerance is an example of how the specifier must qualify the quality of construction with measureable standards.

 

Two important items often overlooked is that the level of workmanship must correlate with the quality of the products and that the desired result must be attainable. The level of workmanship that may be attained is limited by the quality of the product. Due to differences in tolerances, quality control, and standards, a lower-quality product may not be installed with the same level of workmanship as a high-quality product.

 

Once the specifier has defined the level of workmanship and the quality of the product's construction, the terms workmanship and quality are intertwined. Be careful with their use and realize the limitations.

 

Have you used these terms interchangeably?


Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOMMasterSpec. He has more than 10 years' experience in consulting engineering, and is the lead author of MasterSpec Electrical, Communications, and Electronic Safety and Security guide specifications. He holds a BSEE from Drexel University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Engineering Management, also at Drexel University.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
World-class maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me