There are several factors to be considered when deciding on the amount and nature of storage required.
- Physical properties: The size, shape, weight and mode of delivery.
- Organisation: The planning process to ensure unloading is available and storage space has been allocated.
- Control: Processes for checking the quality and quantity of materials on delivery, and monitoring stock holdings.
- Protection: The necessary protection for durable and non-durable materials and components from damage.
- Security: Guarding against theft and vandalism.
- Costs: Costs associated with handling, transporting and stacking requirements, the workforce required, heating and/or lighting that may be required, facilities to be provided for subcontractors, and so on.
- Processing: What needs to be done to materials before they can be used. Is there packaging that needs to be removed or returned?
- Programme: When are items required, what is the risk to the project of them not being available, how long in advance are they ordered and how long they will be on site.
- Ownership: Who is legally responsible for items, who will be using them and who owns them? See Materials on site for more information.
 Site allocation
The location and size of space to be allocated should be planned carefully as part of an overall site layout plan and each site will present its own problems. Failure to adequately plan for storage space can result in congestion, or having more materials on site than storage space allows for.
The most appropriate position on site in terms of handling, storage and convenience should be determined. Unloading deliveries should take place in a clearly marked designated area, away from other site operations, supervised by a competent person.
The distance between storage areas and the area materials are to be used should be reduced as much as possible to keep the time and cost required to transport them from place to place at a minimum. Alternatively, storage areas could be positioned within the reach of a tower crane which can then be used to move materials as required.
Materials and equipment may need protection from theft and vandalism, particularly when left out in the open where they have the potential to be removed late at night by opportunistic thieves. Tradespeople often have heavy duty lockable compartments or vans for storing tools, but where it is more practical to leave equipment and materials on site, security may need to be provided. This can be in the form of a lockable fenced compound on site, perhaps with CCTV, alarms and patrols.
There are certain health and safety issues to consider when storing items on site. Items which are stacked must be stable to ensure they will not fall onto workers. Workers should not climb or walk on top of materials which are stacked as they could shift and cause them to fall.
Stored items should not block or obstruct escape routes.
The type of material being stored also needs to be taken into account. If it is hazardous, it may require specific precautions and control measures such as bunds for toxic substances or it may need to be kept separate from other substances to prevent a reaction.
To reduce the risk of an accident, special containers are required to store hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods. These types of containers may have special provisions for things like natural ventilation, special compartments, electrical earthing, and warning signs.
Different types of material will have different storage requirements, in particular depending on whether they are durable or non-durable.
Bricks may be delivered to site loose or strapped in unit loads and stored on timber pallets to be transported using a forklift. Bricks should be stacked on edge in rows to a maximum height of 2.4 m. It is important that they are stored on level, well-drained ground and covered with a polythene sheet to protect against efflorescence and other issues. When calculating the area required for storage, allowance of around 5 m should be given for the forklift approach.
 Roofing tiles
Tiles may be delivered to site loose, in plastic-wrapped packs or in unit loads on timber pallets. They should be stacked vertically in rows, to a maximum of 6 in height. The tiles at the end of the row should be laid flat and staggered. Ridge tiles should be stored vertically on end.
These are usually supplied loose or strapped together on timber pallets. They should be stacked horizontally with ends reversed in alternate rows. A driven-in timber stack or column of loose bricks can be used to form end restraints.
These should be stored flat on a level surface and covered with a protective polythene sheet.
Timber and other joinery items should be stored horizontally and covered in a scaffold rack, although provision should be made for free air flow, usually by the rack having open ends and sides, while having a top that is covered. It is advisable for different timber sizes to be kept separate.
Since any contact with direct or airborne moisture can cause cement to set, it must be kept dry. In terms of organisation, it is advisable for a rotational system to be used, whereby the first batch of cement delivered is the first to be used.
Small quantities of bagged cement should be stacked to a height no more than 1 m, on a raised dry platform such as a timber pallet. A polythene sheet should be used as cover, with care being made to ensure that it is weighted down around the edges.
It is essential for different aggregate types and sizes to be kept separate. They should be stored on a clean, hard, free-draining surface, surrounded by retaining and separating walls of bulk timbers. Stored aggregates should be regularly monitored for moisture content.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki:
- Advance payment bond.
- Hazardous substances.
- Lead times.
- Lighting of construction sites.
- Materials on site.
- Off site materials.
- Pre construction information.
- Retention of title.
- Site appraisals.
- Site facilities.
- Site layout plan.
- Site office.
- Site Waste Management Plan.
- Types of crane.
- Vesting certificate.
 External references
- ‘Building Construction Handbook’ (6th ed.), CHUDLEY, R., GREENO, R., Butterworth-Heinemann (2007)
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