Nearly every sort of construction project requires groundworks to be undertaken. From house extensions to the grandest of civil engineering projects, groundworks are an essential part of any building work. Like other industrial construction services, groundworks are usually outsourced to a specialist sub-contractor by the main contractor – the building firm undertaking the work for the client. This is because groundworks often require expertise and know-how to be conducted on schedule. General construction firms seldom have the necessary skills.

There are a number of elements that go into modern groundworks. Nearly all of them need to be completed – or close to completion – before other building works, such as installing steel framework, can begin. Let's examine the key ones.

Excavation Works

Earthmoving is a big part of groundworks. Many industrial sites that are being cleared for buildings need to be levelled in order for the design to work properly. Factories and other industrial units frequently require a single level to operate and, as a consequence, excavation of gradients in the topography of the site might be needed. If a previous building has been levelled in order to accommodate the new construction project, then similar excavating equipment is used to clear the site of rubble. Backhoe loaders and bulldozers are the main two tools for clearing earth and providing excavation works.

Drainage Installation

With a flattened site, standing water can be an issue unless sufficient run-off is provided for. On industrial sites, this often means digging channels which will then be made into open drains and culverts. If the site is for a residential area, then other drainage channels will need to be dug, for example for sewers and the mains water supply pipework.


Many groundworks firms offer the ability to dig out foundations for a new construction project. This is highly precise work which, if done badly, can compromise the rest of the construction phase. Foundations tend to be dug in long channels and match the walls of a building that will be constructed above them. However, many industrial buildings rely on footings instead. These operate more like anchor points for steel girders and are made from concrete. The rest of the building is usually then suspended from the frame which sits on top of the footings.

Hard Landscaping

Hard landscaping can follow the construction phase of a project or run alongside it depending on the level of access that is required. Essentially, hard landscaping involves the construction of block paving for pathways and pouring asphalt or concrete to make roadways. Kerbs and items of street furniture are sometimes installed by groundworks contractors, as well.