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A clerk of the works is a person who acts as a representative of the client on a work site where construction teams build or repair facilities. He or she monitors the progress of activities on the site and reports back to the client. If issues arise, this person can quickly identify and address them for the benefit of the owner. This job role is ancient, and many societies have a history of using owners' representatives on job sites to ensure the integrity of the work.
The clerk of the works attends all meetings associated with the job site and retains copies of drawings, schematics and documentation. One part of the job is simply checking in on the work regularly to make sure that the builders are building what they are supposed to build. This includes not just walking the site to check on the layout, dimensions and other specifications, but also evaluating the materials. If the clerk of the works identifies substandard materials or believes that the client is receiving bills for different materials than those used on site, he or she can flag this issue and bring it to the attention of the client.
This professional acts as a form of quality control to continuously evaluate a site and compare the construction to the stated project specifications. If workmanship is shoddy or the materials are the wrong type, a representative can identify this and address the problem before work continues. This can cut down on the risk of issues such as catastrophic building failure years later. The clerk of the works can also identify problems that might lead the client to reject the project or could be a source of litigation and other problems.
Government agencies might use a clerk of the works for big projects to oversee cost and quality. This protects the interests of not just the agency ordering the work, but also the taxpayers who rely on the agency to use money effectively and appropriately. Likewise, on large private construction projects such as housing developments, such personnel are very useful. Clerks of the works maintain logs during construction and can provide them to clients upon request.
To become a clerk of the works, it usually is necessary for a person to have experience and training in construction. Many clerks of the works have degrees along with five or more years of experience. The pay can be variable, and a clerk of the works might be an independent contractor or an employee of a company that provides construction monitoring services.