Understanding the role of a Clerk of Works

With quality standards in construction consistently being called into question, not least following the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire, Clerk of Works services have been subject to renewed demand in recent years. Here, we explore the value appointing a Clerk of Works to your project can deliver and outline the specific responsibilities a Clerk of Works takes ownership of throughout the construction process.

What is a Clerk of Works and why do I need one?

With quality standards in construction consistently being called into question, not least following the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire, Clerk of Works services have been subject to renewed demand in recent years.

Here, we explore the value appointing a Clerk of Works to your project can deliver and outline the specific responsibilities a Clerk of Works takes ownership of throughout the construction process.

What is a Clerk of Works in construction?

A Clerk of Works (sometimes abbreviated to CoW) is a qualified specialist contractor, principally responsible for ensuring quality standards are met on a build.

A Clerk of Works will assess, not only, the execution of works undertaken by contractors and construction firms, but also review the materials used to ensure these are of the correct specifications and appropriate for the intended application.

Their job is to ensure that compliance and quality is being adhered to at every stage of a build, from the initial groundworks through to snagging and decoration works; helping to avoid any costly delays whilst ensuring that construction targets are met at every key stage of a project’s lifespan.

What is a Clerk of Works’ key responsibilities?

 A Clerk of Works has a number of responsibilities on a project, but their principle role is to inspect workmanship to ensure compliance with building regulations and client specifications.

A key part of their job involves maintaining work logs and site diaries, together with compiling and filing official status reports. They’ll be present for any statutory testing required and also participate in project meetings.

Additionally, a Clerk of Works will advise on and oversee aspects of Health & Safety, as well as keeping a log of any unexpected delays or events which may impact on progress, for instance, supply chain issues with materials or a disruptive spell of adverse weather which halts works.

A Clerk of Works will also look out for defects, monitoring and inspecting the project at regular intervals, to ensure structural integrity and compliance with all laws and regulations.

Do Clerks of Works go by other names?

Yes, a Clerk of Works may also sometimes be referred to as a Works Supervisor (a modern-day Clerk of Works if under an NEC3 contract), a Resident Site Inspector, a Resident Engineer (ICE), or a Buildings Quality Officer.

What experience does a Clerk of Works have?

A Clerk of Works will be highly proficient in construction processes, building laws, and regulations, with extensive experience and a broad understanding of quality benchmarking across a range of disciplines. Many Clerks of Works are registered with The Institute of Clerks of Works and Construction Inspectorate of GB.

At a minimum, a Clerk of Works will possess a thorough knowledge of construction inspection practices, including the ability to assess that both workmanship and materials meet required standards. 

In addition to their quality compliance expertise, a Clerk of Works will have the foresight to identify potential issues that may compromise delivery deadlines and work schedules. When this occurs, a Clerk of Works will propose workable solutions that mitigate disruption to build timescales while maintaining project integrity.

A Clerk of Works will also bring experience in Health & Safety best practices, together with the skills to accurately document and file reports to the required legislative standards. Most of all a Clerk of Works will be highly trained in the obligations of all contractors and stakeholders contributing to the project, providing sound and impartial advice that is 100% objective.

What are the benefits of contracting a Clerk of Works?

Enlisting the expertise of a Clerk of Works delivers a wealth of time and cost-saving benefits on a construction project.

They’ll assess the work of third-party contractors to monitor that it’s of an acceptable standard and executed using quality materials to the agreed architectural specifications, both of which play a significant role in keeping build times on the track and ensuring works get signed off.

They’ll also act as an independent sounding board at project meetings, providing objective expertise on matters of compliance, the law, and health and safety - always with 100% neutrality.

A Clerk of Works can also prevent unforeseen issues from derailing your build by identifying potential risks in advance and proposing solutions that provide a solid workaround. This can prove invaluable when it comes to managing stakeholder expectations, complying with local governance, and in avoiding hefty penalties that may be imposed if a build is delayed.

Appointing a Clerk of Works

Whether it’s a commercial office space in a thriving city centre, a residential housing development, or a transport infrastructure project, appointing a Sillence Hurn surveyor as Clerk of Works ensures your build has the expertise needed to meet all its quality compliance obligations.

To contract one of our experienced Clerk of Works personnel (also members of the ICWCI) or for a no obligation quote, please contact us on 02380 014786 or email enquires@sillencehurn.co.uk

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