29 Jul 2020

R&D Tax Relief in Civil Engineering

Sam Stephens

Research and Development in Civil Engineering can often by overlooked and seen as day-to-day business activity – but the sector is full of innovation, often making the work performed eligible for R&D Tax Credits.

We look at the world around us and we see the incredible results of Civil Engineering. Civil Engineers not only design beautiful structures – they’re also responsible for the essential infrastructure we rely on daily such as:

  • Roads
  • Railways
  • Bridges
  • Buildings
  • Energy, waste and water systems

Innovation in Civil Engineering can be inspired by the existing surroundings and infrastructure in place – new procedures and processes can be designed to allow a bridge to be built in a challenging environment or a structure to be built in an existing cityscape. In addition, Civil Engineers are innovating as they adapt and implement new systems to tackle current global challenges such as the increasing population and climate change.

Eligible Activities

To better understand what Civil Engineering activities can be included in an R&D Tax Credit claim, here’s a non-exhaustive list of eligible R&D in the sector:

  • Innovative construction/delivery methodologies (new or unique approach).
  • The application or development of new technologies (tools, machinery, materials etc.)
  • The development of a bespoke engineering solution to a real-world problem that wasn’t ‘off the shelf’.
  • The development of bespoke software/data analytics/monitoring systems.
  • The adaption of technologies from other industries.

If your staff do something significantly differently to how it was done before and there are technical uncertainties as to whether it will be successful which are mitigated by your work, there is a good likelihood you are doing eligible R&D. In the case of SME claims, R&D work carried out by subcontractors under your instruction can also be claimed.

We’ve made some notable claims for companies that perform innovative Civil Engineering activities in a variety of industries, a few examples are:

  • A large PLC claimed over £2 million in R&D Tax Relief via the RDEC Scheme for their work in design, construction, monitoring, and maintenance of key UK transport infrastructure.
  • A SME housebuilder designing and building high energy efficient ‘eco’ homes claimed over £80,000 using both the SME and RDEC Scheme.
  • A SME specialising in designing and building the latest in fall-protection equipment as well as bespoke solutions claimed over £1 million in R&D Tax Credits via the SME Scheme.
  • A SME company, creating innovative remote monitoring devices for the rail industry claimed £60,000 in R&D Tax Relief.

Making a Claim

R&D Tax specialists such as TBAT will work with you to ensure that you submit a well-evidenced and maximised claim to HMRC. We have a team of expert consultants from a variety of different scientific, engineering, and technical backgrounds with high levels of industry experience.

Their knowledge and experience allow our consultants to immerse themselves in your projects to fully understand your technology and identify all of your eligible R&D expenditure.

We also have a deep understanding of the R&D Tax legislation and where your business and the work you do fit in, and we’ll do the leg-work so that you don’t have to!

Get in Touch

The team would love to hear from you if you’d like to discuss making an R&D Tax Credits claim for your work in Civil Engineering.

Our online R&D Tax Credit Calculator is a great place to start, if you’d like to work out how much your claim could be worth. If you’d prefer to speak to a human being, you can either get in touch, or book a consultation with one of the team.

Related Articles

28 Nov 2023

What defines guidelines for R&D tax purposes?

Within R&D tax credit frameworks, there exist varying degrees of guidance, each with distinct purposes. These are ‘Meaning of Research & Development for Tax Purposes: guidelines’, 'CIRD Manual (Corporate Intangibles Research and Development)' and ‘Guidelines for Compliance’

R&D Tax Credits
24 Nov 2023


There were some important announcements made regarding the future of the R&D tax credits schemes both in structure, operation and who can benefit as well as wider investment in R&D in specific sectors.

R&D Tax Credits

An independent consultancy, highly skilled and experienced

Assists organisations in accessing research and development grant funding across a range of UK and EU schemes and industry sectors.

Get In Touch