Setting-out procedures for the modern built environment

This practical pocket book provides concise guidance on the procedures for setting out most forms of building and civil engineering works.

Modern built environment, Canary Wharf
Modern built environment, Canary Wharf

Who wrote this?

B. M. Sadgrove MA CEng MICE originally and Ed Danson of Swan Consultants for this revision and update.


This was first published in 1988, with a second edition out in 1997. This revised and updated version was first published in September 2007.


To share best practice in setting out to improve site safety and efficiency.

Who should read this?

Anyone who is involved in setting out building works, especially those in management and responsible for safety.


Based on years of practical experience, these procedures apply to the majority of construction sites.

This 147-page book gives aims to reduce the risk of errors in setting out by giving easy-to-follow steps, hints and tips. Topics are divided into techniques for setting out and specific applications. Text is presented as bullet points accompanied by explicit diagrams.The second edition is updated to cover the use of electronic instruments and aspects of quality control and safety.

It includes:

  • Surveying instruments
  • Setting-out techniques
  • Accuracy
  • Checks
  • Recording and informing
  • Initial actions
  • Instructing the site assistant
  • Grid coordinates
  • Horizontal angles
  • Benchmarks
  • Levelling instruments
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Establishing the vertical
  • Obstructions and slopes
  • Lasers
  • Sewers and drains: initial checks, line and level, junctions, manholes, common and deep trenches, location, piling, excavations, slabs and floors, columns and walls, tall structures, circular structures, and curved walls
  • Roads: earthworks and drainage, embankments, cuttings, crossfalls, general procedures, footways and kerbs
  • River works and
  • Tunnelling

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