The RAW cutlery; basis in civil engineering

In Civil, Road and Hydraulic Construction, the RAW system is almost exclusively used to draw up specifications. This contains all the work to be carried out, types of materials, conditions and everything else that a contractor needs to know for the execution of a civil project. You can read what RAW specifications entail in this article.

What is cutlery?

A specification is a form of contract in construction and civil engineering that contains all provisions regarding a project. These may be legal aspects, the materials to be used, the quantity of materials, the conditions that the work must meet or any other conceivable aspect of a project.

The RAW system

The RAW system is almost exclusively used in civil engineering. More than 80% of projects in the Netherlands are made with the RAW system. This is a standardized way of writing specifications that was developed by the CROW Foundation in Ede. The first complete edition of the RAW system dates from 1979 and has been updated several times since then. For example, the most recent version was from 2005 and a new version will be released in 2010. The RAW system makes drawing up specifications and reading them a kind of automation and the codes it uses make it easier for contractors, for example, to draw up a good price. A RAW Standard Specification uses the Standard 2005, which contains provisions that in principle apply to every RAW specification. Deviations from this must be indicated in the specifications.

Contents of a RAW cutlery

The Standard RAW Provisions include many legal, administrative and technical aspects. These have been drawn up by CROW and in principle apply to every project. They are therefore not mentioned in the specifications and any deviations must be incorporated into the specifications. Specifications also include specification drawings and any external documentation that is important for the implementation of the project. For a project created with the RAW system, 0.15% of the contract price must be transferred to CROW for the further development and maintenance of the RAW system.

Part 1; general

Part 1 of a RAW specification contains general information that is important for the implementation, the six paragraphs into which this chapter is divided are; client, management, location, general description, timing and maintenance period. This includes the client’s address, location of execution and a brief summary of what work needs to be done.

Part 2; description

Part two of the specifications is a description and includes the description of the project. Part 2.1 contains drawings, data such as gauges and dimensions, appendices, quality assurance and other important matters. Part 2.2 contains a further description and this is the largest part of the specifications. This precisely describes every activity that the contractor has to do. For example, a specific street paving may be prescribed, including the number of square meters, the average width of the section, the materials to be used, the underlay on which it must be applied and other details. Most of these details can be processed with codes and can therefore easily be calculated by a contractor. An item must be included in the specifications for all matters that a contractor has to do or that have to be done via a subcontractor. The use of a management hut, the installation and maintenance of well drainage, the use of road barriers or whatever may also be included in the specifications. There is also room under the provisional items for items for which the quantity or costs are still unclear.


The CROW is a Dutch knowledge institute in the field of traffic and transport. Experiences and opinions are exchanged from experts from all fields of the civil engineering sector. Guidelines are drawn up on this basis. These guidelines are used, for example, by municipalities when designing neighborhoods and roads, although they have no legal basis. CROW can provide a definitive answer in the event of disputes between the contractor and the client.