This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol5", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
It is frequently advisable to illustrate such a report by sketches showing the present position of the works, and this can best be done by having the ground-floor plan printed on the back of the form, so that the heights above a given datum at the various points may be figured on it in red by the Clerk of Works, together with any notes or reference letters to which he may draw attention in the actual report. Occasionally, though unfortunately somewhat too rarely, a Clerk of Works will be met with who is accustomed to photography, and so can supply the Architect with photographic prints showing the position of affairs from time to time.
It is probable that in most cases the reports take a colloquial form, and are written somewhat as letters, of which the following may be taken as examples -
Report on Samples of Materials Delivered on to Works.
Dear Sir, - I beg to inform you that samples of facing bricks have been delivered from Messrs. A, B, and C, and to report thereon as follows: - I find the first sample A to be of very poor quality, and, in my opinion, totally unsuited for the class of work to be done, being of a porous nature and likely to crumble and lose their face in the exposed position in which this brick is to be used. The sample from firm B is a better brick, being very hard and well burnt, and well suited for the purpose; but the colour is so irregular that it would not present as pleasing an appearance as the elevation demands. The sample from firm C is, in my opinion, the best brick of the three, being reasonably hard, square and straight, and even in colour, and I should recommend this one as suitable for use. It would be well to come to an early decision in the matter, as I understand from the merchants' agents that it may take some weeks to deliver the large number required, if the order is not placed at once, and it is very desirable to obtain them as nearly as possible from the kilns in one burning, to ensure evenness of colour, etc. Awaiting your instructions, - I am, Sir, your obedient servant, W. N.
Dear Sir, - In accordance with your instructions I have now tested the samples of cement you sent me, marked A, B, C. After seven days' immersion in water five briquettes from sample A broke when subjected to an average tensile strain of 420 lbs., five briquettes from sample B broke at 410 lbs., and five from C, an average of 382 lbs. I have also tested each sample for expansion in glass tubes for the same time, and find that sample A broke two out of three tubes. B showed no movement whatever, and C burst one tube on the sixth day. In my opinion sample B is the best cement, and I would recommend it for use in this contract. Awaiting your instruction, - Your obedient servant,
To the Chairman and Members of the Building Committee.
The work since my last report has been somewhat delayed by the wet weather; but good progress has been made with the Sanitary block on the south-west side, which was roofed and covered in before the bad weather came on. The whole of the brickwork has been now raised to first-floor level with the exception of the portion over the main entrance, which has been delayed by the non-arrival of the large steel girders that carry the main wall. I have written the engineers respecting this delay, and they inform me that they will expedite delivery, and hope to deliver the necessary girders early next week.
The masons' work is well in hand, and I hope that the lost time will soon be made up when the girders come to hand.
I have had considerable trouble with the joinery for Sanitary block, and have had to reject a large number
Duties of Clerks of Works - Letters and Reports 127 of oak frames which, in my opinion, were not up to the specification.
I am sending you samples of the glazed bricks required for the walls of lavatories, and would recommend the sample marked A, as I find it has the best glaze, and is more even for colour, thickness, and length than the others - these last two qualities being very important for glazed brickwork. I received a letter from your clerk, of the 7th inst., requesting me to include in my monthly report my recommendations respecting painting the plastered walls in the lobbies and up the staircase. It would be very unwise, in my opinion, to paint these walls unless the plaster used is Keen's cement trowelled smooth. If Keen's is used a thoroughly satisfactory job can be obtained, but the extra cost will be considerable - approximately £80. It would be necessary, if Keen's is used, to instantly follow the finishing of the plastering with the first coat of paint; so that this matter should be settled at once, or delay may occur.
The section of drains from the Sanitary block has now been completed, and is perfectly satisfactory, having been duly passed by the local sanitary authorities. The section from the main sewer will be commenced next month, and taken up to the M.H. at boundary of the site, and left there until the main building is more advanced. - I am, Gentlemen, your obedient servant,
These are all very well, provided that the Clerk of Works has the gift of literary composition; if not, they fail utterly, and frequently become quite incomprehensible, while they are always open to the risk of unreliability, containing discursive matter of little importance, while vital points are missed. Half the difficulty of report-writing is avoided if a proper diary and letter-books have been kept, as from these there should be little trouble in filling up well-devised report forms independently and accurately, and if the reports be demanded at sufficiently frequent intervals to keep the Clerk of Works up to his work of diary-entering, the risk of anything material being missed by inadvertence is reduced to very small proportions.
While many Clerks of Works have not the necessary literary ability to compose full reports, most of them can ask a definite question or can reply to one concisely and to the point. It is, consequently, the custom in some offices to supply the Clerk of Works with foolscap paper, ruled as follows -
No. Query from Clerk of Works.
If a good number of these are printed, and if some of them be upon blue paper as queries from the Clerk of Works, and some upon white paper as queries from the Architect, correspondence is greatly facilitated, the only essential part being that copies should be kept by both parties, so that both Architect and Clerk of Works may be able to refer to the whole correspondence at any time.