Complete Guide to Civil Construction Companies

Civil construction is all around us. It is what creates many of the roads, buildings, and other projects of our communities. But who builds those projects? What does civil construction actually mean? What exactly do civil construction companies do? Here is everything you need to know.


What Is Civil Construction?

Civil construction is part of civil engineering and involves designing and constructing buildings and facilities that impact the entire community. Private construction involves designing and building private buildings like homes and businesses, but civil construction plays a part in civil works to create projects that benefit the entire community. In most cases, civil construction projects are funded by taxes, grants, or private funds dedicated to the community. These projects are owned and maintained by governments or non-profit organizations instead of being owned by individuals or businesses.


What Is Heavy Civil Construction?

A separate arm of civil construction is heavy civil construction, which involves designing and constructing more than just buildings. Heavy civil construction includes building roads, bridges, airports, and other projects for the community, as well as maintaining them. Similar to traditional civil construction, these projects aren’t owned by individuals or businesses but are for the good of the community and are typically paid for with grants or taxpayer money.


Heavy civil construction has many components and is more than just constructing a building. Large construction projects involve testing the land to make sure it can hold the new construction, coordinating with local leaders for funding, and ensuring that the designs are sturdy and can last for decades to come.

civil construction equipment in northern colorado

These large-scale projects impact the daily lives of people across the community, so there are many considerations that influence the design and construction process. For example, when building a bridge, a heavy civil construction company has to not only make sure it is constructed correctly, but also work with civic leaders and engineers to ensure that the construction work doesn’t impede with daily life for the residents and businesses in the area. The easiest way to build the bridge could be to shut down all traffic in the area, but that could be detrimental to the neighbors, so heavy civil construction companies must find other ways to work.


Heavy civil construction covers many of the same areas as traditional civil construction, but it is typically done on a larger scale and with a bigger variety of projects.


What Are Heavy Civil Construction Projects?

If you’ve driven on a bridge, flown into an airport, or used water from a man-made reservoir, you’ve experienced heavy civil construction in person. Heavy civil construction projects are all around us, and many people don’t realize just how many they see and use every day. Heavy construction projects get their name because they tend to be heavier than average projects, both in size and weight. Heavy civil construction includes a variety of types of projects, including:

  • Bridges
  • Dams
  • Roads and highways
  • Ports and airports
  • Canals and reservoirs
  • Subways and other public transportation
  • Sewers and wastewater treatment plants
  • Tunnels


What Does a Civil Construction Company Do?

Simply put, civil construction companies are in the business of building and maintaining buildings, road, and other infrastructure for the community. But the work goes beyond just constructing buildings. There are many steps to a successful civil construction project, and a civil construction company has to work carefully through the steps and coordinate with other groups and leaders to ensure the project is completed safely, on time, and under budget.

senior living construction project

Civil construction companies cover a variety of tasks, including:

  • Site remediation
  • Site demolition and cleaning
  • Slope protection and erosion control
  • Soil stabilization
  • Stormwater runoff
  • Street and land grading
  • Environmental impact studies
  • Building design
  • Construction
  • Maintenance and upgrades


Unlike many other types of construction companies, civil construction companies work heavily with civil engineers to ensure the projects are sustainable and built well. Civil construction companies must be experienced in handling natural environments and working with existing climates, ecosystems, and land structures. Because their projects are so large, they tend to have a bigger impact on the surrounding areas. If civil construction companies don’t have a strong understanding of how to best use and protect the surrounding land, the project could fail and the land could be damaged.


Because civil projects are often funded by taxpayer money, civil construction companies also need to deliver projects on time and within the budget. Construction companies must learn to be resourceful and provide long-lasting, quality projects while respecting the taxpayer money they are using. The goal of civil construction projects is to improve the community and create an infrastructure that will stand the test of time. In order to do so, civil construction companies must understand how to build sturdy buildings and other projects that will experience heavy usage.


Who Maintains Civil Construction Projects?

Civil construction companies are most often responsible for maintaining projects once they are complete. Maintenance for heavy civil construction tends to be more involved than traditional maintenance and can include things like reinforcing walls, improving roads and fixing potholes, updating bridges, and ensuring that the projects are functional and safe.


Civil construction companies often work with engineers to perform regular checks of their projects after they are completed, especially if the construction is in a heavy usage area or near land that could become unstable with time or weather. Although the goal of all heavy civil construction projects is to build durable infrastructure, even the strongest projects still need updates and maintenance. Preventative maintenance and regular check-ins with projects can help find issues before they become larger problems and emergencies. It’s much easier and less expensive to fix a small crack in a bridge than waiting for it to lead to damage and missing pieces that are much harder to repair and can have major impact on traffic and public transportation.


Maintaining projects is often even more important than the initial construction because civil infrastructure in disrepair can be expensive and frustrating for businesses and citizens. Things like potholes and closed roads cost the average taxpayer around $3,400 a year in lost disposable income. Damaged roads can lead to expensive repairs for motorists. Faulty canals, bridges, dams, and other structures can be not only inefficient and expensive but also dangerous and potentially lead to accidents and long-term damage if they aren’t properly maintained.


How Do Civil Construction Companies Operate?

Each civil construction company has a different organizational structure, but they tend to follow the same basic format. The general manager oversees multiple projects at a time with a big-picture perspective. Working under that person are project managers, who lead the on-the-ground team. The project manager is on the construction site and coordinates the many moving pieces to ensure the project stays on schedule and budget. In many cases, the project manager is also the person who works with city officials to ensure the project is completed properly according to the funding plans.


To earn projects, many civil construction companies submit civil works bids to local governments and non-profit organizations. If a city needs a new port built, they will likely field bids from multiple civil construction companies and choose the bid that best fits their vision and budget. If their plan and design is selected, the civil construction company takes on the project. As part of the contract, they will likely provide regular updates to local officials to keep them up to date on the project’s status, especially if any setbacks arise.

NG Companies professional grading land

Depending on the type of project, there will be different civil construction teams at the worksite. Some companies bring in specialists for each aspect of the project, while others employ a team of generalists that can complete the entire project. The first step is typically bringing in engineers to survey the land and make sure it is able to handle the load of the project. If it isn’t, the land may need to be strengthened or have added drainage.


Once the land is prepared, teams get to work building the project. Employees are skilled in various areas of construction and engineering, including pouring concrete, welding, and other aspects of construction. Some employees are tasked with crowd management, such as coordinating any changes to traffic patterns that need to happen while the crew works on a road or tunnel, for example. Throughout the entire process, the team works with local officials and has a team of safety engineers to ensure the project is completed safely for the community.


Civil construction companies play a vital role in keeping societies running and moving forward. The many components of designing, building, and maintaining large infrastructure will keep heavy civil construction companies busy for years to come.


Learn more about NG Companies and our civil construction services.