Clerk of Works

16th October 2019

Why the clerk of works role is making come back

Like all industries, construction sees its fair share of trends and the re-emergence of the clerk of works role is one such example. Once a common role on almost any construction project, the clerk of works role diminished over time. Now, with quality – or the lack of it – highlighted as one of the biggest issues affecting the construction industry, the clerk of works role is making a comeback and plays an important role in reversing that problem.

What the CIOB Construction Quality Commission found

Over recent years there have been increasing examples of serious quality issues resulting in the failure of buildings. In 2017 the CIOB Construction Quality Commission was set up and was led by a group of CIOB past presidents, CIOB members and other relevant construction organisations. The commission was tasked with addressing the reasons behind falling quality standards across the industry.

In September 2019, the CIOB published its Code of Quality Management – the output of two years work by the Commission. You can read more about the code and download your free copy here. One of the key findings was “an underlying cultural issue” with “quality being sacrificed to achieve targets”.

What is a clerk of works?

A clerk of works may also be known as a works supervisor (NEC3), resident site inspector, resident engineer (ICE) or building quality officer. Whatever title is used, the remit is to monitor the quality of the project on behalf of the client, throughout the build process.

Depending on the size, scope and specialities of the project, there may be more than one clerk of works for various works packages (M&E and structural for example).

The clerk of works is required to complete independent assessments of the work quality and report to the contract administrator. They may be permanently based on-site or may make regular visits – again this depends on the size and scope of the project.

What does the clerk of works do?

Contrary to what might be suggested by their ‘inspection’ remit, the clerk of works does not supervise the delivery of the project. They are responsible for making an independent assessment of the quality standards achieved by the contractor(s) and reporting accordingly.

This will usually take the form of a site diary together with participation in project progress meetings and they will submit written reports of their findings. As part of their role, the clerk of works will expect to witness statutory testing, monitor the progress against the project programme and assess compliance issues such as the meeting health & safety or CDM legislation. The clerk of works will also record significant information that may impact on the project progress such as weather delays, delays in the supply of goods or services that affect progress and, of course, adverse events or safety incidents.

What makes a good clerk of works?

Given the important role the clerk of works plays in the overall quality of the project, choosing a suitably qualified and experienced professional is vital.

Your appointed clerk of works must be able to forge a collaborative relationship with the contractor(s) whilst maintaining their independence. You should also ensure that the appointed person:

  • Communicates positively and effectively across the site team.
  • Understands and can interpret and explain, site drawings and contract documents.
  • Is qualified and experienced in site health, safety and first aid.
  • Possesses exemplary organisational skills in order to maintain excellent records.
  • Has the ability to implement robust processes and procedures.
  • Understands the legal responsibilities and obligations relating to the project.
  • Is familiar with the required welfare and environmental standards to be achieved.
  • Can quickly and proactively resolve issues, mediating with various parties if necessary.

How Evolution5 can help you

Evolution5 are experts in delivering professional consultancy services for all aspects of the construction process, including site inspection and clerk of works services. For over ten years Evolution5 has been delivering excellence for clients based on our core values of passion, responsibility, honesty, achievement and contribution.

When you appoint Evolution5 to provide the clerk of works services you benefit from the implementation of leading industry standards to monitor your project. We understand the importance of working in collaboration with all parties whilst providing robust challenge to ensure your project achieves excellent quality standards. The principles of ISO9001:2015 are applied to all aspects of our work providing you with the assurance of our commitment to delivering quality at all times.

What’s more, our experience as both contractors and consultants gives us a vital, and rare mix of skills to appreciate the realities of delivering a construction project on-site. As a result, we are able to help spot potential problems at an early stage and identify pragmatic solutions that never compromise the quality of your project.

To find out more about how my team can improve the quality of your project, contact us today on 02380 405073 or email me on jamie.barrett@evolution5.co.uk