- Project plans
- Project activities
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Last edited 15 Oct 2021
The term ‘construction’ refers to the process of building something such as a house, bridge, tunnel, and so on.
The CDM regulations suggest that 'construction works' means '...the carrying out of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work…’ More specifically, Civil engineering procedure, 7th edition, published by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), defines construction works as: ‘What a contractor has undertaken to provide or do for a promoter (client) - consisting of the work to be carried out, goods, materials and services to be supplied, and the liabilities, obligations and risks to be taken by that contractor. It may not be all of the project, depending on what is specified in a contract.’
Construction may also be considered to include:
- Alterations of or additions to buildings.
- Others normally undertaken by a person carrying on business as a builder or contractor.
See Construction works for more information.
 Builders, contractors and subcontractors
In very broad terms, contractors are the organisations appointed by clients to carry out construction works. However, this apparently simple relationship is complicated by the fact that contractors tend not to have all the trades required to construct a building in their direct employment. And so construction works themselves tend to be subcontracted to specialist trades.
The word ‘builder’ is typically used to refer to an organisation that employs workers that undertake all of the roles necessary to undertake construction works, they do not have to contract trades. Typically ‘builders’ are associated with domestic construction, as housebuilding is a relatively repetitive process, for which the workforce required is predictable and so direct employment of the workforce does not limit the builders capability.
See Builder vs contractor for more information.
The carrying out of construction works in the UK may require planning permission and Building Regulations approval, as well as other approvals depending on the nature of the works.
- Planning permission is the legal process of determining whether proposed developments should be permitted. Responsibility for planning lies with local planning authorities (usually the planning department of the district or borough council). The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) decides national planning policy for England and this is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.
- The Building Regulations set out requirements for specific aspects of building design and construction, such as accessibility, energy use, drainage and so on.
See What approvals are needed before construction begins for more information.
 The UK construction industry
The construction industry in the UK accounts for approximately 3 million jobs, 10% of total UK employment and includes both manufacturing and services.
- Commercial and social (approximately 45%)
- Residential (approximately 40%).
- Infrastructure (approximately 15%)
Approximately 60% of construction output is new build, whilst 40% is refurbishment and maintenance.
See UK construction industry for more information.
Typically, a construction project will involve a funder, a client, consultants, a contractor, sub-contractors and suppliers. They will generally be procured following one of the five main procurement routes:
- Traditional contract.
- Design and build.
- Construction management.
- Management contract.
- Public procurement.
For more possibilities see: Procurement routes
Generally, the client will work with consultants to define what they require, then a tender process will be undertaken to identify a contractor to construct the works.
See Tender process for more information.
A typical project might follow stages such as:
- Stage 1: Business justification.
- Stage 2: Feasibility studies.
- Stage 3: Project brief.
- Stage 4: Concept design.
- Stage 5: Detailed design.
- Stage 6: Production information.
- Stage 7: Tender.
- Stage 8: Mobilisation.
- Stage 9: Construction.
- Stage 10: Occupation and defects liability period.
- Stage 11: Post occupancy evaluation.
See: Work stages for more information.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building regulations.
- Comparison of work stages.
- Construction contract.
- Construction industry institutes and associations.
- Construction industry organisation.
- Construction industry.
- Construction strategy.
- Global construction market projections from 2020 to 2030.
- Government construction strategy.
- Planning permission.
- Procurement route.
- Types of construction.
- UK construction industry.
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