Site Works: Clearance & Setting Out

Site works, clearance and setting out
Site works, clearance and setting out

Site Works: Clearance & Setting Out

Site works, clearance and setting out


The site layout plan and the detail drawings required for the contractor to build the building(s) will have been supplied to him when the building contractor is given possession of the building site. It is the builder’s obligation under the majority of building contracts to ensure that the setting out is accurate.

After taking control of the site, work on getting the building ready and laid out can begin. Three headings can be used to organize these operations:

  • Site clearance
  • Building set out, and
  • Fixing or establishing a datum level


Clearing The Site For Set Out

This could entail tearing down already-existing structures, clearing trees and shrubs, and removing dirt to lower levels. Only a trained demolition contractor should attempt demolition work as it is a skilled occupation.

Both human and mechanical methods can be used to remove trees.

Large tree removal is best left to the experienced specialists to undertake.

According to building regulation C1, “the ground to be covered by the building shall be reasonably free from vegetable matter,”

Because there will be plant life and decomposing vegetation in the upper 300 mm or so, this effectively sterilizes the earth.

This indicates that the topsoil would not be appropriate for foundations because it is easily compressed.

When the site is landscaped, topsoil will be kept for restoration because it is useful as a garden dressing.

Taking into account the size of the development and any nearby buildings, the site clearing method selected will be decided.

The topsoil will be kept for restoration when the site is landscaped because it is valuable as a garden dressing. The site clearance method selected will depend on the extent of construction and the consideration of any nearby buildings.

Setting Out The Building On Site

Setting up a baseline from which the entire building can be laid out is the first duty. To enable its reestablishment at any moment, this line’s location needs to be prominently indicated on the job site. A steel tape (30 m would be a reasonable length) should be used for on-site measurements. Tapes covered in plastic and linen are also available.

A builder's square
A builder’s square used for setting out a building on site

The drawback of linen tapes is their propensity to stretch.

The building’s major lines can be laid out and each corner marked with a sturdy peg once the baseline has been laid out, marked, and verified. The setting-out lines for right angles and proper lengths should now be checked.

There are a few ways to determine if a right angle has been made, and one of these ways would have actually been used during the setting out process.

Sitesquare and the pythagoras method
Squaring the site using the Pythagoras 3-4-5 method and telescopic means

It is still necessary to perform a check, and it is best to do so using a different approach than the one used for the setting out.

Typical example of building set out and checks
Typical example of building set out and checks

Following the completion and verification of the main building line layout, profile boards are arranged. To locate the trench, foundations, and walls, these are positioned apart from the foundation trench places.

A typical example of a profile board
A typical example of a profile board


Every intersection between a trench and a wall needs a profile board.




Sunday Adoga

Sunday Adoga is a civil engineer, musician, producer, blogger, content creator and many more. He wants to use his God given talents for the transformation of the world in his own little way. For sponsorship, partnership, donations, structural & architectural designs, constructions and other business related information, feel free to reach out to him through the contact page.

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