Structures, water, computers, languages and people (not necessarily in this order)

Engineering commercial frameworks

One of the keys to understand the main differences between the British and Spanish civil engineering markets is to compare the award procedures of public works:

I – Separate design award and execution award.
Spain 75%
UK 10%
EU 60%

II – Joint design and execution award.
UK 70%
Spain 12% (nearly all for concessions of highways and airports).
EU 35%

III – Negotiated procedure and direct award.
UK 20%
Spain 13%
EU 5%

All these numbers were obtained, aggregated and rounded from the vast work of Daniel Raccah at the University of Rome La Sapienza.

Integrated contract – or Design & Build – is the formula that has recently seen the greatest rise in the United Kingdom and other northern countries, where it is now decidedly the most prevalent form of award. On the other hand, the traditional formula of prior award of the design (meaning the design adjusted to the tendering of the work) separate from its execution is still the method most utilised in Spain. But something is changing: in recent years I have seen that the direction of civil works, the technical assistance and the project management are usually joint-awarded to the same consultant company. Based on my own experience, between 30% and 50% of the fees go for the project and 50% to 70% go for the direction of works.

Finally, it must be said that the Spanish engineering consultancy market is highly competitive and provides a favourable investment climate for foreign groups. In fact, some engineering companies from the U.K. (Arup), France (Eyser) and U.S. (CH2M Hill, Fluor Daniel, Foster Wheeler and URS) are present in the Spanish market with great success.

Related: A brief history of engineering consultancy.


  1. Hola Xosé,

    Great article. Like u, i´m a spanish civil engineer (caminero),and surfing found your web by chance. It´s very interesting, and weird that you do all in english, but chapeau!

    As well,i have an english girlfriend and it´s being useful to make her understand better the proffesion and differences between Spain and UK.


  2. It´s very interesting, and weird that you do all in english.

    Thanks a lot for your visit, Juan Caminero. The dominance of English as the language of civil engineeering is clearly proved. For instance, it is nearly impossible to read a book about the nonlinear calculation of concrete water tanks in Spanish.

    Furthermore, English, Japanese and Chinese and not Spanish, Portugues or Italian are the dominant languages in the blogosphere. Look at this: posts written in Spanish are less than 4% of the total posts and Portuguese post represent less than 3% of the pie. Provided that, unfortunately, I do not speak or write those Asian languages, I have chosen English as the tool to spread the word in an American&Asian dominated engineering blogosphere.