August 2022

Plant Design, Engineering, Construction and Commissioning

Inspection and test plan: A tool for quality control alignment during construction

Quality control (QC) is fundamental for capital project success. It should be an integral part of how construction is executed. Compliance to project requirements (e.g., drawings, specifications and standards) can be verified through this process.

Payami, H., Fluor

Quality control (QC) is fundamental for capital project success. It should be an integral part of how construction is executed. Compliance to project requirements (e.g., drawings, specifications and standards) can be verified through this process. Increasingly, project stakeholders demand robust QC programs to ensure lasting results.

However, practitioners can testify to the complexity of QC processes, which can lead to misalignment among project participants. The owner, general contractor and trade contractors each have a role to play in this process, but getting everyone on board with the process can be a monumental task. Fortunately, there is one tool through which such alignment can be reached: the inspection and test plan (ITP).

What is the ITP?

The ITP is a document that contains a detailed list of QC activities that should be performed by the site team from multiple parties in accordance with the defined quality requirements. In other words, the ITP functions as the overall roadmap of QC activities. The inspection and test activities listed in the ITP include the activities before, during and after the construction process.

The importance of the ITP for alignment

Any process that involves multiple parties for implementation runs the risk of misalignment. If this risk eventualizes in the QC arena, the consequences could be serious. When the correct QC requirements are not clearly communicated to the constructor or other parties as to what their roles are in inspection activities, significant rework or, in worst-case scenarios, major safety incidents could ensue because of the violation of design requirements.

The creation of the ITP in a collaborative manner offers a practical approach to bring all parties together to finalize the detailed QC requirements and interfaces. This interdisciplinary process facilitates constructive discussions to determine the suitable level of inspection conducted by the key players.

The agreement on this document provides project leadership the confidence that the right processes are in place to fulfill the quality requirements. Establishing this confidence in a systematic way is the noble goal of any quality assurance (QA) program. In other words, the ITP serves as a bridge between QC and QA programs (FIG. 1).

FIG. 1. The ITP functions as a bridge between construction QA and QC.
FIG. 1. The ITP functions as a bridge between construction QA and QC.

Components of the ITP

ITPs commonly contain the following items:

  1. Inspection and test points
  2. Acceptance criteria
  3. Recording requirements
  4. Scope of responsibility.

A sample ITP is shown in FIG. 2. The upfront agreement on each of these items has an enormous impact on construction QC efforts.

FIG. 2. Sample of an ITP.
FIG. 2. Sample of an ITP.

Inspection and test points. In this section, the project scope is broken down into distinct steps to identify QC activities. The joint review of these items is both a scope and QC alignment opportunity among engaged parties.

This list of QC activities will serve as a valuable checklist to ensure that all necessary inspections and tests are accounted for in the construction process. In most cases, an inspection or test cannot be completed later if it was missed. The ITP helps the team stay on track vis-à-vis all QC steps.

Acceptance criteria. All parties should be on the same page as to what “done” means for construction tasks. The joint review of the ITP could facilitate the agreement on the applicable codes, specifications and other requirements that must be met to complete the project’s scope. While such references can be found in various places in construction contract documents, bringing them all together in one single document helps with the joint understanding and implementation of them.

In addition, the agreement on acceptance criteria matters when the payment to the contractor is tied to the completion of certain milestones. Having clarity on what constitutes the acceptance of work reduces the likelihood of disagreements on sensitive payment issues during and after construction execution.

Recording requirements. How the results of inspections and tests are documented must be agreed upon upfront to avoid conflicts during QC activities. The retention of test and inspection evidence is critical for historical data capture, legal and/or training purposes in many organizations. Since the owner, general contractor and trade contractors may have different formats for collecting this evidence, addressing what the agreed-upon format is brings efficiency to QC documentation.

Scope of responsibility. What the role of each entity is in the QC activities is a consequential coordination area. The ITP preparation serves as an alignment opportunity to determine the extent of QC activities completed by each party. Examples of QC tasks designated to project participants include to:

  • Inspect: Physical checking of an activity
  • Witness: Presence of a representative for a check point
  • Review: Document reviews to verify completeness and accuracy.

In this section, the parties agree on hold points at which the construction process cannot proceed without the presence of certain parties and their approval.

Translating contractual requirements into the ITP

The contractor who prepares the ITP should have a good understanding of the QC requirements in the contract. The QC requirements in construction contracts can be found in various places, such as:

  • Design specifications
  • Drawings
  • Local/international standards referenced in the contract
  • Manufacturer requirements.

For complex projects, it can be a difficult task to capture all the required checking processes. The preparation of an ITP in a collaborative manner gives the project team an avenue to apprehend QC requirements and to plan on performing them accordingly.

This is also important, considering the prospect of conflicting information in the contract. Such conflicts in the QC arena can come to light during the ITP preparation process and can be resolved by obtaining the owner’s concurrence on what requirements take precedence.

Now that the QC tasks are collected into one place during the ITP review and approval process, the owner gets a chance to decide how the QC activities are commensurate with the criticality of the subject construction tasks. This may lead to granting waivers for reducing QC efforts for non-critical items or increasing inspection for more important tasks.

ITP as a dispute avoidance tool

Unfortunately, the construction industry is a litigious industry and billions of dollars are spent annually for dispute resolution. Many construction claims are originated from quality-related issues. With a close examination, the ITP continues to be an effective instrument to prevent the escalation of such disputes.

For example, the owner’s rejection of work due to it not meeting a specification or other requirements that the constructor was not aware of has the potential to be a costly and lengthy litigious matter. Parties to the contract can avoid this by thoroughly reviewing the acceptance criteria noted in the ITP. Alignment on what matters to the owner for accepting the work is important for smooth construction execution and for the prevention of disputes down the road.


The effectiveness of QC efforts in the construction phase of a capital project requires alignment between involved parties. The ITP is an excellent tool to achieve such alignment. It coordinates project participants on the detailed steps of QC activities, the acceptance criteria, documentation requirements, and the roles of each party in inspections and tests before, during and after the construction processes. The ITP is a medium to gather convoluted QC requirements spread among contractual documents into a single document that can be reviewed and agreed upon collaboratively among project participants. The thorough review and agreement on the details of the ITP can serve as an effective tool to avoid future disputes that could derail project outcomes. HP

The Author

From the Archive



{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}