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Derwent to use more clerks of works to improve build quality

Berners street 01
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Developer Derwent London is set to make greater use of clerks of works on its projects following a successful trial

The firm recently used a clerk of works on Piercy & Co’s Copyright Building retail and office scheme in Berners Street, Westminster, in an attempt to boost the quality of construction.

Derwent’s head of development Richard Baldwin said he wouldn’t rule out appointing architects to perform the oversight role in future.

Explaining why the firm had started using clerks of works, Baldwin said: ‘I have been [in the] industry for 40 years and I’m fed up with poor workmanship.

’Margins in the construction industry are getting squeezed and subcontractors are suffering labour shortages.

‘We see the clerk of works as another pair of eyes and ears of what’s happening on site.’

‘I am not saying we will use them on every project, but it was a success on the Copyright Building and I think it is worth it, for a relatively small fee, for us to use them in future projects.”

On the possibility of hiring an architect to carry out the role, Baldwin said: ‘I think as long as architects have skills set within their business, why not? Architects do perform some oversight as it is – they often visit the site and review construction.

‘I know lots of architects that are extremely competent on the necessary nitty-gritty construction issues.’

Earlier this year, the Scottish Parliament’s education and skills committee backed calls for the introduction of clerks of work made by an inquiry into last years’ Edinburgh schools fiasco.

The use of clerks of works has reduced significantly since the introduction of Design and Build contracts in the 1980s, although many housing associations and councils still use them on housing projects.

Rachel Morris, chief executive of the Institute of Clerks of Works & Construction Inspectorate, said: ‘We have had more calls from architect practices recently about how they can employ a clerk of works.’

She called on the government to provide more funding for those wanting to take on the role.

Berners Street - Piercy & Co model shot

Berners Street - Piercy & Co model shot

Berners Street - Piercy & Co model shot

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Readers' comments (1)

  • 'Margins in the construction industry are getting squeezed' - shorthand for saying that the 'sweating the assets' philosophy of commercial life can cross the line to create the sort of gimcrack buildings that might just have the perpetrators waking up in a cold sweat at the thought that they could be held accountable for the problems they cause.
    The fact that many housing associations and councils still use clerks of works says it all.

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