- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 16 Oct 2018
BRE describe external works as: ‘All items outside the building footprint but inside the site boundary, encompassing wastewater and surface water drains, supply of utilities (e.g. gas, electricity and cabled services), footpaths, and access for vehicles including car parks and hard standings to be found in the vicinity of buildings.’ (Ref: BRE building elements: foundations, basements and external works)
- Site preparation works.
- Roads, paths, pavings and surfacings.
- Soft landscaping, planting and irrigation systems.
- Fencing, railings and walls.
- External fixtures.
- External drainage.
- External services.
- Minor building works and ancillary buildings.
- Removal of any vegetation including roots.
- Levelling the site to a roughly even gradient, or modelling the site to create the desired form.
- Setting out and trench lines.
- Establishing site offices, welfare facilities, storage, access routes, and so on.
- Paving, kerbs, and edging.
- Asphalt or block surfacing to driveways, footpaths, car parks and roads.
- Timber decking, handrails and balustrades.
- Patios, platforms and so on.
 Soft landscaping, planting and irrigation systems
Softscape or soft landscape includes all types of plant life, from flowers and trees to shrubs and groundcover. It naturally changes and evolves over time, driven by the climate, time of year and other conditions. Careful consideration should be given to the amount of maintenance that these elements will require to stay in good order. Read more about landscape design here.
Irrigation systems for gardens and external areas can be used to automate the process of watering. The most common forms are a drip irrigation systems that precisely releases water to the roots of plants, and a micro spray system that delivers a fine spray of water over a defined area. The benefit of installing such systems is their efficiency, delivering a water-use reduction of up to 90% compared to a traditional garden hose.
These can be used to stop or cut down any unwanted pedestrian or vehicular access, to provide privacy, to give delineation between areas and so on. They can be low level such as wooden palisade fencing, or high level such as security fencing with concrete or metal posts and wire mesh. Wrought iron fencing can be finished with spikes or pointed designs, and features such as razor wire and anti-climb paints can be used to reduce scalability.
- Bollards: Used as an alternative to fencing to restrict vehicular access and as segregation between pedestrians roads.
- Street furniture: This includes benches, bins, cycle stands, tree guards, lighting, signage, and so on. Within a town or city environment the layout and manufacture of these features may be used to create a period theme; for example, cast iron benches in a Victorian theme. Stainless steel or wood may be used in more contemporary or natural designs.
- Shelters: These may be required to provide protection from the elements. Bespoke shelters are often supplied by manufacturers for a range of purposes, from smoking shelters for office buildings, to cycle shelters, bus shelters, sports shelters, and so on.
This might include:
- Foul drainage: Above-ground pipework is referred to as sanitary pipework, whilst underground pipework is referred to as foul drainage and sewers. Both carry used water from toilets, sinks, basins, baths, showers, bidets, dishwashers and washing machines.
- Surface water drainage: This carries water from rain, condensation and melted snow/ice from structures. The above-ground guttering and rainwater pipes are referred to collectively as roof drainage. The underground pipework is referred to as surface water drains and surface water sewers.
- Sustainable urban drainage systems: SUDS provide an alternative to, or addition to, traditional drainage systems and may include; filter strips and drains, swales, permeable surfaces, basins and ponds, underground storage, wetlands, and so on.
For more information, see Drainage.
External services might include:
- Water mains supply.
- Electricity mains supply and distribution.
- External transformation devices (wind turbines, solar panels, satellite dishes).
- Gas mains supply.
- Telecommunications and other communication system connections.
- Fuel storage and piped distribution systems.
- External security systems.
- Site/street lighting systems.
- Irrigation systems.
- Local/district heating installations.
Ensuring that utilities are supplied to developments is vitally important, not just for the completed development, but also for the construction process itself. Developers will need to ensure that existing site information is obtained, and surveys carried out to determine the position, extent and capacity of existing services. They will need to agree with the provider, the design of any new infrastructure that is required, who will provide it, who will adopt it, and any charges, as well as the appropriate testing, inspection, certification, connection (or disconnection), installation of meters, and so on.
The costs associated with utilities can be significant, both in terms of the initial capital cost of installation (particularly if there is no existing supply or if the existing supply is inadequate) and ongoing bills during operation. It is important to ensure that the best deal is obtained from providers and that alternative quotes are obtained if possible.
 Minor building works and ancillary buildings
There may be a requirement for buildings to serve the site during the course of the construction works that are generally removed upon completion, such as storage facilities, sanitary conveniences, washing facilities, changing rooms and lockers, canteens, site offices, and so on.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- BREEAM Hard landscaping and boundary protection.
- Landscape design.
- Site area.
- Site layout plan for construction.
- Statutory undertakers.
- Sustainable urban drainage systems.
- Temporary works.
- Third party dependencies.
 External references
Featured articles and news
Do you understand the different types of stone and which ones you should use where?
An ECA briefing for members about the commercial implications of leaving the EU.
A crucial moment on any project - and fraught with danger.
The performance gap from a Northern Ireland perspective.
Book review: Buildings of protestant nonconformity.
Design and testing for health and wellbeing - free download from BRE.
Retention in construction contracts.
Campaign for the reform of cash retentions.
The key points for the construction industry and BSRIA's response.
How to make roads safer: the debate continues.
What does the Northern Powerhouse mean for us?
The different types of bond in construction contracts.