Contracts for civil engineering are offered by a broad range of organisations. These can include local authorities responsible for maintaining roads and public spaces, government-owned companies such as Highways England and private sector organisations, for example water utilities with ongoing construction projects, maintenance and improvement programmes. They are either looking for a single contractor to undertake the works, or to appoint a number of firms to a multi-supplier framework. Project types also vary, from single, fixed price commissions to ongoing programmes of work.
Civil engineering tenders
The broad scope of activities that can fall under the ‘civil engineering’ banner means that contract values can vary significantly from the tens of thousands of pounds up to £1-billion plus. As such, programmes are often split into lots to reflect this, for example:
- Minor civils and building works – the phrase ‘minor works’ is commonly used for small, relatively straightforward construction projects, both new and repair/renovation, typically less than £500,000 in value. It can include a wide range of activities such as:
- Construction of above and below ground structures (typically below 2m in height or over 1.2m in depth)
- Drainage works
- Flood alleviation and land drainage improvements
- Footpath and cycleway improvements
- Highway improvements
- Hard landscaping – for example construction of retaining walls, steps and ramps, paved areas or playgrounds
- Environmental improvements
- Provision and installation of street furniture
- Vegetation clearance
- Major and complex projects – typically this involves, large one-off projects above £500,000 in value covering new build, renovations and repairs. Works typically encompass public buildings, infrastructure such as drainage, roads, flood defences, bridges, coastal defences and contamination remediation.
Given the wide range in values and complexity of works, the sector is made up of local and regional SMEs and large national construction groups. It is true that negotiated tendering, and overhead and profit, do play a part in civil engineering tenders and project costs can be a huge focus, however there is a lot more to the tender process.