Copyright to Pat Weaver © 2014
Published here January 2015.

Editor's Note | A Brief Synopsis of the Building 
The Great Exhibition | Governing and Controlling the Construction
Risk, Quality and Cost Control | Conclusion | Case Study Assignment

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
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).[5] These profits were used to found the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum in London.

Figure 10: The final profit
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 Palace.

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
Figure 11: Summary of the final account
Governing and Controlling the Construction  Governing and Controlling the Construction

5. For a description of pre-decimal English currency see:
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