Guidance > Piling Specification > Introduction to the ICE Piling Specification

Introduction of the ICE Piling Specification

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Welcome to the latest edition of the ICE Specification for Piling and Embedded Retaining Walls – the third in a highly successful series, some ten years after the second edition and almost twenty years after the first edition. This specification has been one of the most popular of the ICE's standard specifications and has been influential in raising piling standards in the UK and in other places where it has been used. Most UK piling contracts now refer to it (or to derivatives via the National Building Specification or the Specification for Highway Works), and its requirements are well known to most specialist consultants and contractors. The existence of a standard agreed way of executing piling works helps to reduce conflict on site and enables consultants to design more economically by having confidence in how site works will be carried out.

For those interested in the history of the evolution of the document, it is based on the following documents:

  • ICE Specification for Piling (1988)
  • Draft Specification for Embedded Retaining Walls - unpublished
  • Highways Agency Specification for Piling and Embedded Retaining Walls (1994)
  • ICE Specification for Piling and Embedded Retaining Walls (1996)
  • FPS Essential Guide to the ICE Specification for Piling and Embedded Retaining Walls (1999).

The document has a new look to make it more usable. Part A is an introduction to the essential concepts necessary to procure a piling contract. Part B is the specification and is the only part of this document intended for incorporation in contracts. Part C provides guidance for use of the specification and essential background information for specifiers and contractors alike. This is an advance on earlier editions where the guidance was dispersed. This new edition also incorporates the helpful commentary produced by the Federation of Piling Specialists ("the essential guide" from 1999) so contained in one authoritative document are all the guidance documents needed to prepare and work to this piling specification.

In terms of national standards, much has happened since the publication of the second edition. The Eurocodes have been written and are now in widespread usage. Many European standards have now been issued as British Standards. This new edition has striven to keep pace with these fast-moving changes. Likewise, safety standards continue to improve and the piling industry has responded positively to each new initiative.

This specification has been written by practising engineers for practising engineers. It is the product of wide consultation and rigorous review to ensure that it takes account of latest developments and updates to standards. The review panel has been drawn from consultants, specialist foundation contractors and client organisations. Comments have been widely sought and the penultimate draft was reviewed by specialists to ensure consistency and clarity. Accordingly, this edition represents a major advance and should facilitate even more rapid development of the piling and embedded walling industry. It is therefore commended to the UK construction industry.

Finally, the ICE would like to gratefully acknowledge those individuals who have contributed so much to the development of the specification. Consultants and contractors have collaborated to produce a compromise between a desire for exacting standards and an economical approach that balances risk and cost. It is this long collaboration between many highly-skilled people that makes this specification so valuable. I would like to add my thanks to the contributors for this excellent new edition of the specification.

ICE Specification for piling and embedded retaining walls,
Second Edition Thomas Telford, 2007


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Documents Available

Errata 2007

Introduction of the ICE Piling Specification

Performance Specification

Tender Documents and Method of Invitation

WordModel Bill of Quantities

Measurement of Piling and Embedded Retaining Walls

Cutting Down and Breaking Down Piles

Support Fluids in Bored Piles

ExcelFPS Electronic Bearing Pile Schedule

ExcelFPS Electronic Bearing Pile Schedule for use with Eurocodes


See also guidance on this site under:

Guidance > Working Platforms

Guidance > Safety



Ground Forum Electronic Tendering Protocol for Geotechnical Works