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.
So many things which occur during the course of building affect the eventual price, and so many of the Clerk of Works' decisions are liable to be called in question at a subsequent date, that it is of the very utmost importance for him to keep his records in perfect order. In fact, the orderliness should be such that he is not only able to greatly assist the surveyor in finally settling up the accounts, but he should be able at any moment to place perfect records of what has occurred in the hands of the Architect or his representative. For this three things are requisite. He must keep the letters, both those he writes and those he receives, in such a way that any one of them can be found at any time. He must make careful diary entries of everything that occurs, and he must render weekly accounts according to some recognised form.
With regard to the letters, those which are received ought each day to be endorsed and put in their proper places. Probably the best method of doing this, where the number of letters received is small, as it must be in the case of a Clerk of Works, is to fold each letter lengthwise in two, so that the written matter is inside, and to write at one end of the long folded strip thus obtained the name of the person from whom it is received, putting the surname first and then the initials, and underneath the date which the letters bear. Thus - Abbott, B. C, 3.12.05. The letters when endorsed should be put into their proper places in a large bundle or bundles - usually a single bundle serves at the commencement - all the letters from Abbott, B. C, being placed at the commencement of the bundle and followed by those from Adamson, H. K., and Bishop, T. G., in alphabetical sequence, while those received from Abbott are themselves kept in date order. As the bundle grows it may be separated into smaller bundles, and it may be necessary eventually to have a bundle for each letter of the alphabet, though this is very rare when the letters are so few as are generally necessary for a Clerk of Works to write or receive. The bundles can be kept in a drawer, or preferably in the pigeon-hole of a cupboard, provided that the pigeon-hole be large enough; and, of course, the cupboard in which they are preserved should be under lock and key. Letters which are written by the Clerk of Works must, as a matter of absolute necessity, all be copied, an ordinary letter-book being the best means of doing this. Duplicating books are sometimes provided, and are handy, inasmuch as no copying-press is necessary, and the resulting letters, although not having a sufficiently good appearance for issue from an Architect's office, are quite good enough for most of the purposes for which they are needed by a Clerk of Works. Whatever system is adopted it is, of course, essential that there should be an index to the book, and that this should be kept up from day to day.
This work, as well as the endorsing of the letters received, can be done at the same time that the diary entries are made at the end of the day; but it is not always wise to leave these latter entries even for a few hours. Thus, although the general habit should be acquired of completing all entries and notes at the conclusion of each day's work, and seeing that the records are perfect up to that time, yet everything should be noted immediately that it occurs, if omissions and mistakes are to be avoided. The diary must necessarily be rather large, with ample space for each day's entries, as these are occasionally bulky. The greater part of the space devoted to each day has to be given up to miscellaneous entries, everything being recorded briefly but exactly, including the times of entering the works and of leaving, with particular notes upon inspections made to workshops or to specialists, with brief records of what occurs. In the same way the visits of the Architect or his representatives, or of the owner, or any member of a building committee should be noted, as well as the amount and quality of all materials brought on to the site, and whether they are accepted or rejected, with the reasons for rejection, and any important conferences with the Builder or Foreman. In fact, every little occurrence during the whole progress of the works should find its record in the diary, in many cases as a mere reference to notes made in full in a measuring book or on plans; but still the reference should be there to serve as a guide in the future, and form a perfect history of all that has occurred.
These miscellaneous notes ought, as has just been said, to be made at the earliest possible moment after the occurrences have taken place, in order that there may be no chance of forgetfulness, and each day's entries ought to be signed. But besides these general notes there are certain others which of necessity occur day by day, and these may very well be entered in tabular form at the bottom of the space allocated to each day. These include a report as to the weather, and delay occasioned thereby, if any, and the number of workmen employed, preferably given separately for each trade, if the information can be obtained from the foreman, as it ought to be, and the hours at which the workmen started and left off. It is a very common thing to include among the general entries the results of tests of materials; but where there is some special material which has to be tested frequently, as is the case where Portland cement is largely used, there ought to be a separate test record kept in tabular form, and the columns should be headed somewhat as follows - Number or description of sample; date received; received from; made into briquette, date and hour; removed from mould and put in water, date and hour; removed from water and put into testing-machine, date and hour; result of test; pat made for boiling, date and size; description and result of test. If any other than the tensile and boiling tests are applied they may be similarly tabulated, it being well understood that all cement tests are carried out under uniform conditions.