Purpose Despite the number of quality management procedures being currently applied, construction defects in the domestic sector are acknowledged to contribute to the energy performance gap of buildings. This paper investigates the limitations and challenges to the implementation of project quality plans (PQPs) and their impact on the achievement of expected thermal performance in the UK social housing projects. Design/methodology/approach A qualitative approach, guided by grounded theory, was used in this research. This methodology provided the structure for systematic data analysis iterations, enabling cross-case analysis. An analytic induction process was designed to seek the explanation of the targeted phenomenon and required data collection until no new ideas and concepts emerged from the research iterations. This study collected data from five social housing projects through interviews, site observations and project documentation. Findings Multiple limitations and challenges were identified in the implementation of PQP to deliver thermal efficient social housing. Generally, there is the need for more objective quality compliance procedures based on required evidence. When investigating the root of the challenges, it was concluded that the adoption of statutory approval as the main quality compliance procedure led to the dilution of the responsibility for prevention and appraisal of defects that compromised the effectiveness of PQP devised by housing associations (HA) and contractors. Originality/value This study identifies the shortcomings of PQP in addressing quality issues with potential to undermine the thermal performance of social housing projects. The findings could be used by HA, contractors and policymakers as steppingstones to improve the energy efficiency in the domestic sector.



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Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management



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School of Art, Design and Architecture