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What is a Clerk of Works?

What is a Clerk of Works?

The Clerk of Works, often abbreviated to CoW, is employed by an architect, project manager or a client on a construction site. The role is primarily to represent the interests of the client in regard to checking that the quality of both materials and workmanship are in accordance with the design information. This includes such items as specification, Architect’s and engineering drawings, in addition to recognized quality standards. The role is defined in standard forms of contract such as those published by the Joint Contracts Tribunal. 

The Clerk of Works‘ professional organisation is The Institute of Clerks of Works and Construction Inspectorate or ICWCI

Membership is gained via interview and examination. The Membership qualification can be held in three specialisms: electrical, mechanical and construction.

If you expect the highest standard of quality on your construction project, and want to know that works have been carried out to the contract specification, a Clerk of Works is an essential part of your team.

Independent third party inspection helps to protect a client’s interests throughout the construction process, and therefore when employing/appointing a Clerk of Works, the client will not only benefit in terms of experience; they will also have the reassurance that their interests are being safeguarded.

The appointed Clerk of Works will ideally have the ability to:

  • Anticipate (identify problems in advance) – We can identify problems before they happen or help to overcome/rectify them quickly.
  • Interpret (clearly) – Checking that the contractor fully understands both written and verbal instructions and contract drawings to remove any ambiguity.
  • Inspect (in detail) – Detecting workmanship, quality and materials which do not conform to the client’s standards, specifications, building regulations and current legislation. We can also attend technical inspections and commissioning meetings.
  • Record (completely) – We produce concise weekly reports, based on our site visits and inspections. We will record testing & commissioning results when witnessing Mechanical & Electrical system testing.
  • Report (concisely) – Communication with client and design team issuing weekly reports with photographs, collating and monitoring defects lists and final “snagging lists”. Monitoring progress against program on site and attending site meetings and handovers.
  • Advise and guide Both client and contractor on best practice.
  • Help reduce risk Reduced end of project snags 12 months defects.
  • Provide guidance on health and safety matters.

How does it work?

Your Clerk of Works will provide an independent assessment of the works undertaken. He will check the quality of the build, M&E, structural and architectural works. He will produce regular reports and raise any non-compliant works with the contractors site team and log defects to be re-inspected when rectified. Reporting will include progress reports, photographs, monitoring and recording progression of the works against the contract programme and a defective works log and tracker.

A Clerk of Works can attend site on a full or part-time basis depending on your project requirements and budget. A Clerk of Works is your “eyes and ears on site” and will work dilligently with the contractor’s team to help them “get it right first time” and aid them in handing over a defects free project.

Why do I need a Clerk of Works?

A short video.