Willmott Dixon Construction has plans to employ an extra 100 staff in pre-construction work in the next 12 months.

The expansion has been driven partly by plans to make the firm a £500m turnover business in the next three years but also by a growing trend among long-term clients to involve the company earlier.

John Frankiewicz, chief operating officer at Willmott Dixon Construction, said extra pre-construction staff would work in offices rather than on site, and would handle project planning and management, whole-life costing, design management and co-ordination.

Typically, staff will work with clients for up to a year before work starts on site. Willmott Dixon said 70% of projects this year involved a six to 12-month pre-construction phase.

“The nature of work continues to evolve,” said Frankiewicz. “The days are gone when we were just relied upon to build our projects.”

Willmott Dixon has been involved on pre-construction on framework projects for clients including Cheshire, Surrey and Monmouthshire councils and the Prison Service.

The construction division recently poached Elias Dencker from Atkins. He is working as a pre-construction project manager on a Building Schools for the Future bid.