Last edited 09 Sep 2016

Construction site inspection

Contents

[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.

[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:

  • Prevention of falls and personal fall protection systems.
  • Work at height.
  • Work platforms such as scaffold and mobile platforms.
  • Latters and stepladders.
  • Personal protection equipment, including head protection.
  • Plant, vehicles and other equipment.
  • Storage.
  • Electrical systems.
  • Asbestos risk.
  • Provision of welfare facilities such as toilets and handwashing facilities.
  • Site conditions and order.
  • Avoidance of obstructions.
  • Management of respiratory risks.
  • Structural stability.
  • Prevention of unauthorised access to the site.

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:

  • Details of the person making the report.
  • Details of the person the inspection was carried out for.
  • Location of the inspection.
  • Date and time of the inspection.
  • Description of the nature of the inspection.
  • Details of health and safety risks identified.
  • Details of any action taken.
  • Details of any further action required.

[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.

[edit] Other inspections

Other inspections might include:

[edit] Find out more

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references

Comments

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.