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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:

See Construction works for more information.

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.

See What approvals are needed before construction begins for more information.

The construction industry in the UK accounts for approximately 3 million jobs, 10% of total UK employment and includes both manufacturing and services.

There are three main sectors:

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:

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:

See: Work stages for more information.


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