19th August, 2020

What Is Pre-Construction Information?

One of the first documents that needs to be produced on a construction project is the pre-construction information. This is a legally required document, required by the CDM regulations for every construction project. But what is the pre-construction information?

What Is Pre-Construction Information? header image

One of the first documents that needs to be produced on a construction project is the pre-construction information. This is a legally required document, required by the CDM regulations for every construction project. But what is the pre-construction information?

The CDM regulations apply to every construction project in Great Britain. And they legally require you to provide pre-construction information for your project. So the pre-construction information is one of the first CDM documents you will become aware of on a project. In fact, you can't start work without it.

Unsure what the CDM regulations are? The Construction (Design & Management) Regulation apply to every construction project in Great Britain. Find out more in what is CDM in construction?

The pre-construction information contains health and safety information that the client has or can obtain, that is necessary for the work to be carried out safely. This could include health and safety information on the site, like ground conditions, hazardous materials, or service locations. Or information about the design, like unusual risks or required sequences for construction.

“pre-construction information” means information in the client’s possession or which is reasonably obtainable by or on behalf of the client, which is relevant to the construction work and is of an appropriate level of detail and proportionate to the risks involved, including—

  1. information about—
    1. the project;
    2. planning and management of the project;
    3. health and safety hazards, including design and construction hazards and how they will be addressed; and
  2. information in any existing health and safety file;
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 Interpretation

Who provides the pre-construction information?

The person who has the ultimate responsibility for providing the pre-construction information is the client. After all, the client will usually own or have control over the site or building, and probably has most of the relevant documents containing information about the site, plans, details or previous work, building surveys, ground information etc. They will also have knowledge of the location of things on the site or in the building, like services and obstructions. They will know about previous work that has taken place, and perhaps the history of the site. Providing the pre-construction information is one of the client duties under CDM.

(4) A client must provide pre-construction information as soon as is practicable to every designer and contractor appointed, or being considered for appointment, to the project.

Clients might not always have a good knowledge of CDM. This could be their first construction project. The good news is, help is at hand from the principal designer. Most projects need a principal designer, appointed by the client under CDM.

(6) The principal designer must—

  1. assist the client in the provision of the pre-construction information required by regulation 4(4); and
  2. so far as it is within the principal designer’s control, provide pre-construction information, promptly and in a convenient form, to every designer and contractor appointed, or being considered for appointment, to the project.

The principal designer must assist the client with the pre-construction. This will include gathering information from the client and helping the client to obtain any additional information required, eg. surveys, investigations etc. The principal designer can also put together the information and distribute it to the project team.

pre-construction planning

The pre-construction information will develop during the pre-construction phase, adding to the initial information from the client, with new health and safety information that becomes available from surveys, investigations and designs while planning the project. By updating and communicating this information, the entire project team shares health and safety information from one source.

Why do we need pre-construction information?

Every construction project is different, and while many hazards and risks stay the same from project to project, each site and project can also bring its own hazards and unique risks that need to be controlled. To be able to plan for this, the contractors and designers working on the project need to know enough information about the site to be able to identify what the risks are.

For example, is the site contaminated? Does the existing building contain hazardous materials, like asbestos? Is there overhead or underground services that need to be isolated, protected or redirected during the works? Is there overhead or underground obstructions? Are there any unusual design elements that need extra consideration?

demolition

Check if your project complies with the free CDM compliance checklist.

Often the client or someone else in the project knows this information, but it didn't necessarily get shared to a designer or a contractor. And then, when they find out about a hazard, maybe later on in the planning phase, or during construction, changes have to be made leading to delays and complications. Or worse, people have been put at risk.

The pre-construction information document is a way of sharing this information as early as possible so that everyone in the project is aware of the health and safety risks. Designers need to know about hazards so that they can plan for them in their design. And contractors need to know so that they can plan for them during construction. The pre-construction information providing details on the health and safety risks and how they should be managed.

What should the pre-construction information contain?

For the pre-construction information to be useful, it needs to be prepared so that it contains information that:

  1. is relevant to the project
  2. has an appropriate level of detail
  3. is proportionate to the risks involved

So the pre-construction shouldn't contain a lot of generic information or information about the site that has no impact on health and safety. It needs to be

Information that should be included in the pre-construction information includes:

  1. information about the project, such as the client brief and key dates of the construction phase
  2. information about the planning and management of the project such as the resources and time being allocated to each stage of the project and the arrangements to ensure there is cooperation between dutyholders and the work is coordinated
  3. information about the health and safety hazards of the site, including design and construction hazards and how they will be addressed
  4. any relevant information from any previous existing health and safety file

Check you have all the information you need with the project information checklist and save time creating your pre-construction information with the pre-construction information template.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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