So what does a Clerk of Works do? The role of a Clerk of Works is defined by The Institute of of Clerks of Works and Construction Inspectorate(ICWCI) as:
“A person whose duty is to superintend the construction and maintenance of buildings, or other works for the purpose of ensuring proper use of labour and materials.”
Employers, local authorities, housing associations and a range of other clients need to ensure that construction projects are achieved at the best value for money. Additionally, they must ensure that they are carried out at the highest possible quality whether that be in terms of materials, workmanship, construction standards or building regulation statutory compliance.
Prior to the mid 90’s, the majority of local authorities employed teams of clerks of works under the Engineering and Architects department. During this time the role of Clerk of Works was valued and respected as it should be. With the recession in the 90’s, cut backs, rationalisation and competitive tendering prevailed. This resulted in the outsourcing of services for management companies which would have a long term impact on the profession as they would become increasingly less common.
Over the years, forms of contract have changed and the ICWCI have recognised that the design and build contracts have impacted the role of a Clerk of Works. Those who do not understand the value of Clerk of Works as part of design teams are often mistaken seeing it as a saving to have the contractor responsible for risks and often don’t factor in the cost of implementing a Clerk of Works.
For the JTC (Joint Contract Tribunal) standard or form contract, the lead is taken on by the architect whilst the Clerk of Works is traditionally named and receives a reasonable amount of control.
Management companies including Clerk of Works are often replaced in today’s financial climate and are often not factored in, only being appointed on occasion for site visits or part time services. This being a great shame due to the importance of their service.
So Why is a Clerk of Works Still Useful Today? – What Does a Clerk of Works Do
Firstly, having an independent third party inspection aids clients in having their interests protected throughout a construction process. Appointing a Clerk of Works ensures that the client will benefit from their experience and by knowing that their interests are maintained.
The role of a Clerks of Works allows for many abilities such as to interpret, record, inspect and guide the processes. Additionally, Clerks of Works help reduce risks, providing guidance on health and safety matters.
As well as this they are also useful for a range of other reasons, these include:
Clerks of Works understand the specific construction inspection progress including anything around the inspection of workmanship and materials. They also understand what is expected from all parties involved in the project at hand including their specific requirements and boundaries. This factor is one of many that help to answer the question of what does a Clerk of Works do in construction as well as why they are useful.
They are confident in identifying any issues or potential problems that could arise and given their experience can suggest alternate methods or techniques for mitigation. This skill is really important as construction projects can often go wrong and without an experienced professional who can suggest alternative options, things can go from bad to worse very quickly.
Clients seeking support in a construction process should wish to seek the highest possible level of quality to ensure safety standards are met and that they get the right value for the money they have invested into the project. Clerks of works can be really important in facilitating this need by promoting the right initiatives first time, reducing the need for rework and double handling.
An Impartial Third Hand Perspective
What does a Clerk of Works do for their clients? Well, a key benefit of implementing a Clerk of Works for a project is that the nature of their role ensures an impartial and fair approach that is well considered thus ensuring the right value for money for the clients.
Knowledge of Standards
When embarking on construction projects as a client you will want to ensure that all standards are met whether it be for workmanship, safety or anything else. A Clerk of Works will be able to provide this because of their expert knowledge and experience and will be able to identify and take action on any non conformance.
Ability to Keep Records
In answering the question of what does a Clerk of Works do, one shouldn’t forget their ability to keep records. A Clerk of Works will be able to produce concise recordings of their findings which is immensely useful in ensuring that tasks are carried out in a reliable manner, details are not missed and that any issues that arise are made note off so that they can be amended as soon as possible
Knowledge of Materials and Components
In order to get the best value for money and quality within construction, you will want to ensure that the best materials and components are being implemented. A Clerk of Works will have an expert knowledge of construction materials and components. Additionally, they will be able to identify their use and any limitations or alternatives that should be considered.
Legal Implications and Health and Safety
Construction can be dangerous and clients will want to ensure that health and safety is being upheld. Clerks of Works will be able to facilitate here with their knowledge of the practical and legal aspects involved in construction health and safety.
Clerk of Works – Areas of Focus
There are a variety of areas in which a Clerk of Works will focus on if appointed, these may include:
In order for buildings to conform with statutory regulations it is of utmost importance that they are inspected with regards to health and safety. A Clerk of Works does this as well as inspecting the building’s structural integrity. This is essential as it means clients can have the peace of mind of knowing that their buildings conform with statutory regulations and law.
When carrying out construction projects it is essential that materials are analysed and inspected. A Clerk of Works can do this ensuring that all materials are fit for purpose and are of a suitable quality.
There is nothing worse for clients waiting through a construction process than to be made to wait longer than expected as a result of unforeseen problems, defects and rework. A Clerk of Works will help oversee the workmanship on a project and will act using their expert knowledge and experience to ensure everything is running smoothly and efficiently.
Defects within construction can cost you unnecessary money and time so it is best that they are minimised and resolved before they cause any major problems. Clerks of Works can ensure defects are spotted by carrying out thorough inspections as part of the construction process.
Recommendations and Support
One of the best things about appointing a Clerk of Works as part of a construction process is that they can provide you with a balanced and fair 3rd party viewpoint of progress throughout a project. They can reflect on their own experience and expertise in providing advice and making recommendations that will benefit the client. They often work as a representative of a client or employer providing a 3rd hand balanced perspective ensuring that work is carried out to your standards. The earlier they can get on board with the process the better. Although they are not a mandatory requirement, they are highly recommended due to the importance of the service they provide whether that be overseeing, analysing, providing advice and keeping record of the construction process as a whole.
When to appoint a Clerk of Works
When deciding when to appoint a Clerk of Works throughout a construction project generally you benefit more the earlier they are involved. Even as early on as pre-construction, a Clerk of Works can be beneficial in facilitating the preparation and start of the construction process. Often a Clerk of Works is employed as a representative of the client or employer under the direction of an architect, engineer or project manager. Although hiring a Clerk of Works is not mandatory, it is highly recommended if you want to get the best results.
A Clerk of Works, although often overlooked, is an extremely valuable asset throughout the duration of any construction process. So what does a Clerk of Works do that’s so useful? They can provide invaluable advice drawing on their own expertise and experience and can oversee the project to ensure that key aspects such as materials and workmanship are all top quality.
More about Blakeney Leigh
Blakeney Leigh’s team of Clerk of works have a combined 50 years of experience in the construction Industry. The clerk of works provides clients with peace of mind that the works are being checked at every stage of the build. They ensure services clashes are kept to a minimum, report on progress against the construction programme, highlight any design and specification shortcomings amongst other things.
We are a highly skilled team with the ability to deliver even the largest of projects, but small enough to build lasting and meaningful relationships with each and every one of our customers. Get in touch with us today!