Derwent London says use of initiative on Copyright building gives assurance on workmanship

The copyright building berners street piercy&company cgi by ink 02

Piercy & Co’s Copyright building

Derwent London is to introduce clerk of works roles back onto its jobs as part of an initiative to make sure the workmanship on its sites is up to scratch.

The developer recently trialled the initiative on the Piercy & Co-designed Copyright building on Berners Street off Oxford Street, central London, which was completed by Skanska last month.

Derwent’s head of development Richard Baldwin said the move has in part been prompted by worries that under-pressure subcontractors are taking shortcuts to finish work.

He added: “Subcontractors may have underbid work and are therefore having to rush work and when you take shortcuts that can cause big problems at a later date.”

Baldwin said the initiative at Berners Street was such a success, the firm will now be appointing clerks of works to its schemes in the future.

He added: “We had a clerk of works on Berners Street and we just decided we would like that older style attention to detail – [someone] who can review things with contractors on a daily basis. A clerk of works gives us an additional layer of assurance in terms of the workmanship on site.”

The news comes as chief executive of the Institute of Clerk of Works said the group has fielded more inquiries about the role since June’s Grenfell tower fire.

“There’s certainly been a lot more interest,” said Rachel Morris, who added that the body is one of a number that has been asked by the mayor’s office in London to attend a meeting next week on the quality of new build housing in and around London. “We’re getting more calls from architects who see the value in clerks of works,” she added.

Derwent got its clerk of works from Barnsley-based specialist Hickton whose managing director Tony Mobbs said the firm, which has 80 clerks of works on its books, has been contacted post-Grenfell by two local authorities to price jobs for resi towers being planned in their boroughs.

He added: “We are getting more enquiries from commercial developers as well. Subbies might be rushing jobs, things get covered up, they’re discovered later and then the arguments start. Firms are looking to nip bad construction in the bud at the beginning.”

Tony Bingham, a London barrister and arbitrator, said: “I think Grenfell has been a game-changer for a lot of firms. If I was a developer, I’d want a pair of eyes and ears on the site and I’d be telling [firms] ‘if you want to avoid trouble, get yourself a clerk of works’.”

Derwent’s seven-storey Copyright building has been pre-let to services firm Capita and was sold to the investment arm of German bank DZ Bank over the summer for £165m.