River Constructors and Contractors

Type of work/when to contact:

Projects that will require construction work in the stream. Projects that require construction methods in line with permits. Projects that will require construction beyond what you are comfortable doing yourself.


Although not required, many river constructors come from an engineering background and hold PE licenses, as well as a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in engineering.

Where to find a river constructor:

Speak to local watershed coalitions, local agencies you will need permits for or neighbors who have had engineered projects completed.


Can vary greatly depending on type of work and size of project. The fee can be determined by lump sum or by time and materials. You should receive a detailed summary/breakdown of the proposed construction costs prior to work beginning.

What to ask:

Experience with similar projects, experience with required permits, client/ landowner references, references of designers the constructor has worked with, timeframe for work.

Following the design and permitting of your project, you may need to hire a river constructor to actually build the project. Depending on the company and the project, they may be able to help you design and permit the project as well. The river constructor will be responsible for following the construction document plans properly and clearly communicating with both you and the designer(s) if they are still involved. This communication will typically involve accurate cost estimates and schedules, as well as updates on any delays from weather, equipment problems, etc. Both the cost estimates and schedule should be detailed to show the steps involved with each step. If a river constructor provides you with a very simplified cost estimate or schedule, it is very reasonable to ask for a more detailed version.

Professional river constructors at work.

River constructors re-shaped this entire reach of Clear Creek to form natural floodplain benches and in-stream fish habitat.

Similar to the other professions, you will want to look for someone with extensive experience installing similar types of projects. When talking to river constructors about the project, they should be familiar with the terminology used on the construction document plans and they should be able to tell you exactly how they will construct the project. They should also be able to show you pictures from other completed projects and provide references if requested. The contractor should have general liability insurance, specific licenses may be needed depending on the municipality of the work.

Watch videos on how to safely interact with heavy equipment operators at the LWOG YouTube Channel!