A clerk of works or site inspector, is responsible for ensuring that work carried out and materials being used on a construction project meet quality and safety standards, and conform to client specifications. They also monitor progress to deliver the project on budget and on time. Construction projects can vary in scale and size and include building works, such as house, retail and office construction or refurbishment; and civil engineering jobs, for instance maintenance and construction of railways, bridges and roads.
Clerks of works may work for a construction company, engineering firm or local authority; or they may work for a firm of inspection consultants, sub-contracted to carry out inspection work. They must be familiar with relevant Building Regulations, health and safety requirements, planning controls and construction methods.
They take measurements and samples of materials to carry out quality control checks; make visual inspections of the work; identify defects and propose changes to rectify these; liaise with construction professionals, such as contractors, engineers and surveyors to plan site inspections; report regularly to construction managers and clients detailing progress and any problems encountered.
Clerks of works employed by a construction company may also be responsible for supervising the workforce carrying out the building work.
Clerks of works normally work 35 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Weekend and evening work is common, particularly when deadlines are imminent.
They are based in site offices, normally in temporary structures. A lot of their time is spent out of doors in all weather conditions. Depending on the job, some work may be at heights, working from scaffolding or ladders; other jobs can involve working underground, for example tunnel construction.
Clerks of works may be based at one site for the duration of a job or they may travel between sites, carrying out regular inspections, so a driving licence is often essential. Some jobs may require extended periods of time away from home.
As a clerk of works you will need:
Opportunities for qualified clerks of works are good, with a wide range organisations employing them. They include local authorities, health authorities, construction and engineering firms. There are also private companies specialising in consultancy work that employ clerks of works. Self-employment is also an option.
With experience, options include movement into site management and general construction management.
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