Are you looking to install a machine sump as part of your next project?

When time is of the essence, you may be concerned about how long it’s going to take to install a below-ground machine sump and whether the process is ultimately going to hold your construction team up.

This is particularly the case if you’re using a more traditional method of below-ground construction, such as in situ concrete or even precast concrete.

However, you may not be aware there’s another, much faster and reliable option – in the form of prefabricated steel. It could save you a significant amount of time on-site.

As a subcontractor who specialises exclusively in prefabricated steel substructures, I’m going to explain more below with regards to how long it should take to install a prefabricated steel machine sump – and some of the factors that can affect this.

How long does it take to install a machine sump?

Unfortunately, I can’t give you a straightforward answer, just because all machine sumps are completely bespoke. However, what I do is give you some examples. I can also tell you that prefabricated steel is without a doubt the fastest method of below-ground construction.

To give you a bit of a rough idea of the time you could save, if you were quoted the works initially for in situ concrete, changing the programme to implement prefabricated steel could save you up to 70 – 80% of time spent on-site.

Sadly, I can’t really be more specific than this without knowing the specifications and requirements for your individual project – as well as the ground conditions on the site in question.

However, here are two real-world examples.of bespoke machine sumps we’ve installed:

The first one was Wide Lane, Southampton. Our client was Winvic Construction, who needed to install multiple prefabricated steel substructures. They required:

  • Three 1m (w) x 4m (l) x 2.5m (d) substructures used to store machinery
  • One 2m (w) x 4m (l) x 4m (d) substructure to be used as an interceptor tank
  • One 1.5m (w) x 1.5m (l) x 1.5m (d) to be used as storage

The entire project took us just 10 days to install, at a cost of £70,000.

My next example is The London Taxi Company, who were constructing a new factory and required three substructures to allow employees to work on the cars.

They required:

  • One substructure that was 75m (L) x 4m (W) x 1.3m (D)
  • Two substructures measuring in at 8m (L) x 4m (W) x 2m (D)

The work was completed in 15 days, for a cost of £270,000 – resulting in a very happy client, and a closer opening date for the factory itself.

What are the factors that can affect timescale?

Of course, there are a couple of big time factors to consider when considering timescales for a prefabricated steel machine sump.

The biggest factor is the shape and size of the machine sump (or sumps) you require. This can either increase or decrease the installation time; for example, a more complex, or bigger machine sump can take longer to install than a more simpler, smaller sump.

Another significant factor is how much of the sump we can transport to the site already prefabricated. Typically, the more we can bring to the site already prefabricated, the more this shaves off the overall installation time.

As a rule of thumb, if we give you a timescale of – say – five days, 99% of the time this will be reliable. The only risk is the ground conditions – for instance if we were to run into some rocks or some loose soil – in which case extra time for temporary works may be required.

TIP: For more general factors that may affect the installation time for your machine sump, check out our recent blog on timescales for installing prefabricated steel substructures.

Advice from a specialist subcontractor

Prefabricated steel, as a below-ground construction method, is a great way to de-risk both short and long-term; not to mention protecting your ROI by being 100% watertight (no leaks) and being installed to very tight tolerances (think +-3mm).

If you think prefabricated steel could be the best move for constructing your machine sump, we’d recommend getting in touch with us to talk you through your options. We can also offer you some free, impartial advice about whether prefabricated steel might be a good option for you.

Just remember to get in touch at least six weeks before your machine sump needs to be installed. The earlier you can approach us as part of the programme, the better.

Finally, take a look at the case studies I’ve linked above to get a better idea of roughly what to expect and get in touch with us directly for a more accurate quote.


Hopefully you’ve found this blog a helpful read, and you may now be feeling curious to learn a bit more about prefabricated steel and how it works. In which case, we’ve got plenty blogs on the subject!

If you’d like to learn more, or see if we’re a good fit for your project, I’d recommend getting in touch with me directly to discuss your project and see what might be possible with a prefabricated steel machine sump.

Alternatively, if you have any more general questions for me that I’ve failed to answer above, just leave me a comment below.