Risk, Quality and Cost Control
Recognizing the risks associated with using relatively untried technologies
in such a monumental structure, quality control was given a very high priority.
Inspectors and superintendents were appointed and quality control processes included
stress testing components and load testing foundations were implemented.
Figure 9: A commentary on quality assurance and supervision
And as would be expected, the accounting of all costs, including the construction
costs was precise to the Farthing (1/4 of a penny). The exhibition was a popular
and financial success with a final profit of £186,436 18s and 6d (in pounds,
shillings and pence). These profits
were used to found the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum in London.
Figure 10: The final profit
There is also an interesting recognition of the problems of building such a
massive structure in such a short time from a very basic initial design. There
were many improvements in the design implemented as the work progressed causing
the builder to incur a substantial loss. Note in particular, that finishing late
was not an option!
The Commissioners recognized this issue and made provision to compensate Fox,
Henderson and Co for the losses that could be justified. Their original tender
was £79,800, an additional £35,000 was approved in November 1851 and
a final payment of £4,505 1s 5d closed the accounts, see Figure
11. This was after taking into account the sale of the structure for £70,000
to Fox, Henderson and Co for re-erection in what is now the suburb of Crystal
This understanding of the problem and willingness to work collaboratively to
resolve it was no doubt helped by the presence of Sir William Cubit on the Commission.
He owned a leading construction company and was a founder of what is now, 180
years later, the Chartered Institute of Building. However, for any Royal Commission
to be able to properly dispense public money systems needed to be in place to
properly quantify and cost the consequences of the changes needed to complete
the building. This suggests sophisticated cost accounting processes within the
building company as well as the Royal commission.
Figure 11: Summary of the final account
5. For a description
of pre-decimal English currency see: http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/moneyold.htm