Effective QCP Quality Assurance Tools Lurking in the “Back of the Book”

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This Quality Review regular feature presents woodwork-related technical topics of common interest and importance to the design community, general contractors, and the architectural woodwork industry.  

Most design firms involved in commercial and institutional construction markets are aware that the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) offers a comprehensive, internationally recognized “baseline” quality standard {the Architectural Woodwork Standards, Edition 2 (2014)(AWS)}.

Many designers and specifiers also know that AWI created an independent quality assurance organization, available to verify adherence to those standards where required by specification.  That has been the mission of AWI’s Quality Certification Program (QCP) since 1996.

QCP licenses eligible woodworking, finishing and installation companies which have demonstrated their knowledge of the current standard, and proven their ability to provide work which conforms to that standard.  Successfully licensed companies may then certify their work under the auspices of QCP.

However, newly minted licensees are under a form of probation.  Their first two QCP projects are not “self-certified”, strictly speaking.  Rather, a QCP Representative also inspects the company’s work to verify that the products provided conform with the AWS, and are eligible for certification.  Once the licensee achieves two projects which have been certified under the watchful eye of a QCP inspector, that company may then “self-certify” their QCP projects.

BUT… the QCP version of “self-certifying” includes a significant caveat of which many in the design community may not be aware:  While a vast majority of QCP-certified projects are not inspected, any legitimate party to a QCP-specified project may request an inspection by a QCP Representative.

For the architect, general contractor, or project owner who requests this service, there is typically no additional cost involved.  The QCP certification fee is paid by the woodworker, usually early in the project.  This fee covers the cost of a fabrication inspection, and an installation inspection, if installation is in the scope of the fee payer’s contract.

The Quality Certification Program is governed by published policies.  Towards the back of this document are details relating to stakeholder requests for QCP project inspection.

  • Section 8.1 (“Dispute Resolution”) describes a situation in which an architect (for example) believes that there may be nonconforming features present in woodwork provided for a QCP project which has not been inspected.  The various line items Section 8.1 outline the procedures under which that architect may request a compliance inspection to be conducted by QCP.  There are in fact some architectural firms that routinely include the requirement for a QCP third-party inspection in every certified project specification.
  • Section 8.3 (“Project Compliance Challenge Inspections”)outlines circumstances in which a QCP project has been inspected, and a report issued.  Where an architect or other stakeholder believes that one or more of the inspector’s conformance determinations is incorrect, a request to QCP can be made to undertake a second inspection of the items in question.  That “challenge inspection” must be conducted by a QCP Representative other than the one who issued the initial report.  If that second inspector agrees with the stakeholder who initiated the challenge, that stakeholder pays no costs for the challenge inspection.  Conversely, if the second inspector agrees with the conclusions of the initial report, the challenging party pays out-of-pocket costs of the challenge inspection.
  • Additionally, QCP Policies Section 7.2 (“Appeals”) establishes that if a stakeholder disagrees with any conformance or administrative ruling made at the level of QCP Executive Director, that ruling may be appealed to a QCP Board of Appeals.  Procedures for arranging that appeal hearing are outlined.