Non-Conformance Report: How to Report a Quality Issue

Construction Worker on a worksite filing a report with iPad

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A non-conformance report, or non-conformity report or NCR, is a construction-related document that addresses specification deviation or work that fails to meet quality standards. The report is used as part of quality control processes by detailing the problem, how it occurred, and how to prevent it from happening again. An NCR also is used in determining a resolution with a customer and documenting any corrective changes made.

Non-Conformance Report Items

A non-conformance report must include at a minimum the following information:

  • What is the main reason for the NCR or what went wrong
  • Why the work doesn't meet specs
  • What can be done to prevent the problem from happening again
  • Explanation of corrective action taken or to be taken
  • Key players involved in the NCR and specs affected under the NCR

When to Issue a Non-Conformance Report

There are many common scenarios in the construction industry that require the issuance of an NCR:

  • Work that was not built as indicated in the approved Issued for Construction drawings
  • Work that fails to meet specified tolerances as established in the project specifications
  • Work that is being performed using non-approved methods or standards
  • Failure to follow the approved testing and inspection plan
  • Testing results demonstrate that the product does not meet established and approved standards
  • Material used that has not been approved as a substitute (equal or similar) 
  • Design is not accurate and does not represent actual field conditions
  • Approved procedure was not followed, and quality defects have been identified by the project team

Who Can Issue an NCR?

A non-conformance report is typically issued by the project consultant. The report must present a non-debatable fact and include clear and sufficient backup information that supports the claim. The NCR follows agreed-upon conditions for tracking and closing the report after appropriate corrections are made. Non-conformance reports often are used as training tools for team leaders to train other employees to help prevent similar situations from happening again.

Non Conformance Report Consequences

While NCRs are critical for quality control, they can introduce additional problems into the contract. Sometimes NCRs can be seen by financial institutions as red flags or can be identified as poor performance situations by the contractor, with the potential for financial impact on future projects. In some situations, NCR's can open the door to claims and even further arbitration processes. NCR's can also lead to delays in the construction process when additional resources are needed to correct the situations or areas being affected by the report. There is a lot of paperwork and research associated with an NCR, as the issuing party must gather information, specs, standards, and list procedures that were affected by the situation.

What to Do When You Receive an NCR

If you are the recipient of an NCR, you must act promptly and at a minimum follow these steps for a quick resolution:

  • Meet with the person issuing the NCR.
  • Implement the corrective action and make sure through an inspection process that the issue has been solved adequately.
  • Respond with a formal letter or another document, outlining the process that led to the action that triggered the NCR, documenting the action to solve the issue, and explaining the steps taken to prevent the problem from recurring.
  • Make sure that your counterpart agrees and signs off on your action plan.