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Clerk of the works: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The clerk of the works or clerk of works (often abbreviated CoW) is a person employed by the architect or client on a construction site. The role is primarily to represent the interests of the client in regard to ensuring the quality of both materials and workmanship are in accordance with the design information such as specification 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.

Historically the CoW was employed by the architect on behalf of a client, or by Local Authorities to oversee public works.

Maître d'Oeuvres is a term used in many European jurisdictions for the office that carries out this job in major projects; in Italy the term used is direttore dei lavori (manager of the works). The Channel Tunnel project had such an office.


The Institute of Clerks of Works and Building Inspectors of Great Britain Incorporated

The ICWCI is the professional body that supports quality construction through inspection. As a membership organization it provides a support network of meeting centres, technical advice, publications and events to help keep our members up to date with the ever changing construction industry. Post nominal’s for members are FICWCI (Fellow), MICWCI (Member) and LICWCI (Licentiate).

ICWCI Meeting Centres

Cumbria and North Lancashire



East Anglia

East Midlands

Home Counties North

Hong Kong

Isle of Man



North Cheshire

North East


Northern Ireland


South Wales


Staffordshire and District

Western Counties

Historical Timeline

1882 formed as The Clerk of Works Association.

1903 became The Incorporated Clerk of Works Association of Great Britain.

1947 became The Institute of Clerks of Works of Great Britain Incorporated.

1982 Centenary Year.

2003 Centenary of Incorporation.

2009 became the Institute of Clerks of Works and Construction Inspectorate of Great Britain Incorporated.


Potestate, Probitate et Vigilantia (Ability, Integrity and Vigilance)

Origins of the Title

The job title Clerk of Works is believed to derive from the thirteenth century when Monks and Priests were accepted as being more literate than the builders of the age and took on the responsibility of supervising the works associated with the erection of churches and other religious property. They became known as the Cleric of the Works, and as craftsmen and masons became more educated they in turn took on the role, changing the name to Clerk of the Works. By the nineteenth century the role had expanded to cover the majority of building works, and the Clerk of Works was drawn from experienced tradesmen who had wide knowledge and understanding of the building process.

The Role

The role, to this day, is based on the impartiality of the Clerk of Works in ensuring value for money for the client - rather than the contractor - is achieved through rigorous and detailed inspection of materials and workmanship throughout the build process. In many cases, the traditional title has been discarded to comply with modern trends, such as Site Inspector, Architectural Inspector and Quality Inspector, but the requirement for the role remains unchanged since the origins of the title.

The Clerk of Works is a very isolated profession on site. He/she is the person that must ensure quality of both materials and workmanship and, to this end, must be absolutely impartial and independent in his decisions and judgements. He/she cannot normally, by virtue of the quality role, be employed by the contractor - only the client, normally by the Architect on behalf of the Client. His/her role is not to judge, but simply to report all occurrences that are relevant to the role.

Purposes of Formation

When originally formed, the Institute was to allow those that were required to operate in isolation on site a central organisation to look after the interests of their chosen profession, be it through association with other professional bodies, educational means or simply through social intercourse amongst their own peers and contemporaries. Essential to this, as the Institute developed, was the development of a central body that could lobby Parliament in relation to their profession, and the quality issues that it stands for.

Although the means of construction, the training of individuals and the way in which individuals are employed have changed dramatically over the years, the principles for which the Institutr was originally formed remain sacrosanct. Experience in the many facets of the building trade is essential and, in general terms, most practitioners will have "come from the tools", though further 3rd level education in the Built Environment is essential.

Building on Quality Awards

The Institute of Clerks of Works and Construction Inspectorate hold the biannual Building on Quality Awards, and nominations are accepted from all involved in quality site inspection regardless whether they are members of the institute or not. Categories include New Build, Civil Engineering and Refurbishment/Mechanical and Electrical. Judging is based on the Clerk of Works ability, his/her contribution to the projects he/she is involved with, his/her record keeping and reports, and his/her commitment to the role of Clerk of Works.

Awards given in each category are Winner, Highly Commended and Commended. The Overall Winner is chosen from all categories and is widely regarded to be the highest acolade that can be awarded to a Clerk of Works in recognition of his work.

2009 Award Winners:

Overall Winner - Les Howard MICWCI of Leixlip, County Kildare, Ireland for his involvement with the New Eircom Headquarters in Dublin.

New Build – Peter McGuone FICWCI for involvement with Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Refurbishment – Peter Airey MICWCI for involvement with Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, Scotland.

New Build / Refurbishment – Allan Sherwood MICWCI for involvement with The Spa, Bridlington, England.

Civil Engineering – Mike Readman FICWCI for involvement with the A590 High and Low Newton Bypass, Cumbria, England.

Special Judges Award – Carol Heidschuster MICWCI for involvement with Lincoln Cathedral, England.

Famous Clerks of Works

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400) was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier, diplomat and Clerk of the King's Works.

John Louth, appointed first Clerk of Works of the Board of Ordnance by Henry V in 1414 along with Nicholas Merbury, Master of Ordnance. The Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers & Royal Army Ordnance Corps can all trace their origins to this date

Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Winchester, William Wykeham (1323-1404) was Clerk of the King's Works

See also

External links



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