Last edited 28 Feb 2018

Preliminaries in construction

Preliminaries (or 'prelims') may appear in tender documents, providing a description of a project that allows the contractor to assess costs which, whilst they do not form a part of any of the package of works required by the contract, are required by the method and circumstances of the works.

NBS suggest that 'the purpose of preliminaries is to describe the works as a whole, and to specify general conditions and requirements for their execution, including such things as subcontracting, approvals, testing and completion.' Preliminaries and work sections together describe what is required to complete the works required by the contract.

The costs attached to preliminaries may also be referred to as 'preliminaries' or 'prelims', or as 'site overheads', or general cost items or expenses. The Code of Estimating Practice published by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) describes preliminaries as:

'...the cost of administering a project and providing general plant, site staff, facilities, and site based services and other items not included in the rates.'

Preliminaries in tender documents may include:

NB: Preliminaries should not be confused with 'preambles' which set out things such as tendering procedures, that will not affect the contractor's price. For more information, see Difference between preliminaries and preambles.

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This can look like a different language to lots of the people who are not in the construction field. I think the only preliminary should be to get the right contractor. If you find the right one, and can trust them, all of this stuff will be taken care of correctly.