Last edited 11 Mar 2022

Construction site inspection


[edit] Introduction

Construction projects involve the co-ordination of a great number of people, materials and components. Regular inspection is a crucial part of ensuring that the works progress as intended, both in terms of quality and compliance. Inspections will be carried out for a number of different purposes throughout the duration of a project.

The inspection process is separate from the contractor's own supervision of the works. Inspection is carried out purely to give an independent view of the works either for the client or a third party, the term supervision might imply taking some responsibility for the works, when in fact contractual responsibility lies with the contractor.

[edit] Quality and progress

Inspection of the construction works will be carried out as they proceed to verify compliance with the requirements of the contract documents.

Site inspectors (or clerks of works) may be provided as an additional service by the existing consultant team, or could be new appointments. They may be based on site permanently or may make regular visits. On large projects it may be appropriate to have separate site inspectors for mechanical and electrical services, structural works and architectural works. Specialist inspections may also be necessary for specific aspects of the project such as; the client's environmental policy, site waste management plan, accessibility, and so on.

Site inspectors provide an independent assessment of the works and will generally report to the contract administrator. They are likely to keep a site diary, attend construction progress meetings and to produce regular written reports.

Traditionally on the larger projects a clerk of works was appointed to be the eyes and ears of the consultants and be resident on site. They had limited power other than to inspect; they could condemn work but any instructions would be issued by the architect or the contract administrator.

See Site inspector for more information.

Specific inspections may also be carried out during the construction phase as part of the general contract administration process:

Design consultants generally have a responsibility to provide periodic inspection under the terms of their conditions of engagement. However, the fact that it is periodic, and inspection not supervision, can relieve them of liability for specific workmanship defects that result in court action.

See Snagging for more information.

NB The RIBA Plan of Work 2020 suggests that: 'Inspections should be undertaken by individuals with experience of similar construction technologies. If the design team remains with the client, its members are the most likely candidates to conduct these inspections. However, if the design team is novated to the contractor, a shadow design team may be appointed to monitor construction. In addition to ‘walking the site’ to inspect the ongoing works, those undertaking this role typically produce a monthly quality report to record issues identified and to monitor progress… The increasing use of digital surveying tools allows real-time comparisons of actual progress against planned progress, providing indisputable and granular information. On smaller projects, a more hands-on approach might be required with frequent site visits and immediate identification of areas where Construction Quality is not being achieved.'

[edit] Health and safety

Inspections are also necessary to ensure compliance with health and safety and CDM regulations. (Construction (Design and Management) Regulations). These can be internal inspections carried out by the contractor, third party audits or external inspections by the Health and Safety Executive.

The CDM regulations themselves only specifically mention inspection in relation to excavations, cofferdams and caissons (and any work equipment and materials which affect their safety), however, other health and safety inspections may be necessary in relation to:

It is important that inspection timing and frequency is properly organised, that proper reports are prepared and that action is taken if necessary.

Inspection reports might contain the following information:

[edit] Building control

Building control inspections are carried out to verify compliance with the building regulations. These can be carried out by a local authority building control inspector or by an approved inspector. Inspections may be required for:

Advance notice must be given to arrange these inspections.

Very small projects can obtain building regulations approval purely by inspection. This is a building notice application rather than a full plans application.

For more information, see Building regulations inspection.

[edit] Other inspections

Other inspections might include:

NB: In a submission to the Inquiry into the Construction of Edinburgh Schools in 2016, The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) criticised the transfer of responsibility from construction professionals to other parties less involved with the design process and sited the dilution of the role of the design team as one of the causes of poor quality construction.

See Inquiry into the construction of Edinburgh schools view of the RIAS for more information.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings

[edit] External references


Traditionally on the larger projects a Clerk of Works was appointed to be the eyes and ears of the consultants and be resident on site. He had limited power other than to inspect. He could condemn work but any instructions would be issued by the Architect or the Contract Administrator.

Design consultants generally have a responsibility to provide periodic supervision included under the terms of their conditions of engagement. The fact it is periodic usually let's them off the hook for any liability for a specific workmanship defect that ends up in a court action.

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