Temporary works: How to cut costs and improve buildability

Temporary works can represent a significant part of the construction process (Image: Mabey Hire)
Temporary works can impact project costs but a new Technical Information Sheet from the CIOB shows how efficient design, management and installation can radically improve project delivery. Dr Mike Webster explains.

Most construction work requires some form of temporary works (to support excavations or to support tower cranes, for example). These can represent a significant part of the process and can also have a significant impact on cost (sometimes 50% or more), time, quality and safety.

Temporary works need to be properly managed to improve project delivery, and their management is defined in BS 5975:2019.

The CIOB has just published a Technical Information Sheet, Managing Temporary Works ( This provides an overview of the key parties involved, management controls and how the temporary works coordinator manages the works.

Even for simple schemes, efficient design, management and installation will radically improve project delivery. To gain those efficiencies, temporary works need to be considered early in a project.

Dr Mike Webster is director of consulting, forensic engineering and expert witness services company MPW R&R.

Eight ways a client could obtain efficiencies

1. Appoint temporary works design consultants precontract

They can provide early consideration of temporary works issues including whether temporary works are actually required.

2. Appoint a designated individual

BS 5975:2019 states that every organisation that has an involvement with temporary works should appoint a designated individual (DI) to prepare, maintain and implement the organisation’s procedure for the control of temporary works. Having a DI in place early ensures that there will be someone senior in place in each organisation who has a responsibility for temporary works.

3. Include an initial temporary works register in tender documents

By developing an initial temporary works register for inclusion in tender documents the key temporary works items can be planned and priced for.

4. The preconstruction information should consider temporary works designers

Temporary works designers (TWD) need information to carry out efficient designs. By obtaining that information early, TWDs can assess what the best design options are well in advance of construction.

5. Permanent works designers (PWD) should consider the implications of their design on temporary works

PWDs should provide an indicative construction sequence, showing how their design can be built safely. Attention to detail and decisions taken during the permanent works design process can have a significant impact on how easy and safe a structure is to build and the requirements for temporary works. Decisions made about the design of the permanent works have a fundamental impact on the need for and amount of temporary works. PWDs should not be put off by the title, as BS 5975 recognises that temporary works need to be managed within the context of CDM 2015.

6. Early contractor involvement is encouraged

Contractors can input ideas at an earlier stage, enabling more effective communication, improving design and simplifying construction. The Temporary Works Forum has published examples of projects where the benefits of early contractor involvement has been achieved.

7. Carry out formal constructability reviews

If constructability and temporary works are not considered from the outset, the structure may be very difficult and/or impossible to build, as well as too expensive. A quick review very early looking at how a proposal can be built, testing its feasibility for construction and identifying the need to buy land to facilitate construction can have a significant impact.

8. Planning is key

The simplest way to ensure the safety of construction and correct estimating of cost and time is by having a fully planned construction sequence considering all temporary works.

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