What are the duties of a quantity surveyor … well, a quantity surveyor can wear many different hats during the construction of a project. The term “quantity surveyor” is like an umbrella phrase that covers many different duties that they may conduct over the course of the job.
If you want to know a little more about what a quantity surveyor is then please go back and read my last blog post explaining this question.
Let’s start by looking at one of the first duties a quantity surveyor (QS) in construction will perform which is a quantity or material take off. These duties require the QS to use the design drawings to measure the number of quantities that will be required for the project.
As an example, how many bricks, concrete, and steel might be needed.
The duty of the quantity surveyor during the measurement process is to produce a bill of quantities in a methodical way. Skill and accuracy during the measurement phase are crucial to the correct budgets being allocated in the next stage.
Quantity take-off is essential to the second duty a quantity surveyor will be required to do which is estimating. Estimating use takes the quantities to build up the pricing for the project.
For instance, if we need 10 cubic meters of concrete and the cost is $ 100 per cubic meter of concrete then the cost of the concrete will be $ 1,000 for the job.
During estimating the duty of the quantity surveyor is to make sure they have covered all the materials, plant and labour within the estimated rates for the project. This step is essential for business and project profitability.
Finding the correct market rates for the quantities is called procurement which is another very important duty of a quantity surveyor. This duty is the sourcing of pricing for the materials or packages of works from the market in order to put the total cost of a project together.
What this may entail is dissecting the project work packages as mentioned above. So, as an example, sending the plumbing works to the plumbing companies or maybe the carpentry package to a carpentry company. These companies will then return their price or quote to complete the work on the job.
During the estimating stage is again crucial to the profitability of the project to capture all costs for plant, labour, materials, overheads, insurances, and bonds. This cost can really amount to a lot of money. The skill of doing really lies in the experience of the estimators and the quantity surveyors.
In procurement writing, detailed scopes of works that clearly outline and identify the boundaries of the work packages are critical to the success of the project. This will help reduce the number of disputes and delays within the project.
These scopes of works, which is usually a quantity surveyors’ duty, are used in putting together the contracts for a project which is our next duty to look at.
Contracts are what bind the client and the company or person providing the product or service.
As an example, a contract may be with the homeowner and the builder for which the builder is going to provide the product and services required by the owner for a fee. It may also be between the builder and supply for the supply of the concrete as mentioned above.
The duty of the quantity surveyor when it comes to the project contracts is to make sure the right contract is selected for its intended use. So, in terms of the material supply, a materials supply contract might be required.
Other contracts might be a major works contract for the works to be completed by the builder.
The negotiation of these contracts can be simple or sometimes very complexed depending on the scope of the works we discussed above. The quantity surveyor’s duty would be to go through the terms and conditions of the contracts and make sure both parties are happy prior to signing.
During this process, it is the QS’s duty to make sure their employers’ best interests are kept in mind during the negotiations.
Certain terms and conditions in contracts may be set up to protect one party but not the other which would mean they are seemingly unfair to the smaller party. These clauses are generally the ones that take the must negotiations between the parties.
If an agreement cannot be made, then one party may walk away from the project. The duty would be to prevent that but sometimes it can not be presented to the party’s business interests.
Poorly negotiated contracts can cause various disputes, delays, and disruption to the project which is not good for anyone. So due time and care must be taken during this stage as once the contracts are signed, they become legally binding on all parties.
Once the contracts have been signed and executed the project can begin which leads us to the duties during the project.
During the project, the duty of a quantity surveyor maybe called a contract administrator. Once the contracts are signed and the work in underway, the contract will have certain deadlines that must be met.
The administration is again an important duty as it will help the project flow with minimal disputes between the parties. The QS’s duty is to make sure the contract is administered to the full effect for their employers’ benefits.
Once the project is completed the QS will have to finalise the contract, settle the outstanding monies, known as the final account and make sure the project is finished from a paperwork point of view. Generally, after the contract is finished the parties move onto the next project.
During the project and if disputes arise between the parties to the contract the duty of the quantity surveyor may be to assist with resolving these disputes. They would have a detailed and sometimes complexed understanding of the project. This means they would be able to offer advice and reasoning during the disputes.
Sometimes disputes cannot resolve by the QS. This would then lead the parties to use legal teams to argue the disputes which may end up in legal battles taking years to resolve. As a quantity surveyor, you may be called upon to give information or potential be an expert witness during these cases.
In order to minimise disputes, delays, disruption and cost escalation on projects it would the quantity surveyor’s duty to identify risks before, during and after construction to manage these risks throughout the life cycle of the project.
The duty of the QS would be to maintain a project risks register. The risk register would identify potential problems that may occur on the job, things like bad weather or a delay in a major supply item like a steel frame.
The register would focus on the risk and likelihood of the problem happening. There would then be a strategy to minimise the risk impact on the project.
Another and final duty of a quantity surveyor would be the help their client’s value manages the project. This means that the quantity surveyor would be tasked with finding alternative methods, products, supplier or builders for the project that are cheaper but retain the quality.
As an example, certain brands of paint may be cheaper than the top well know the brand, but the quality is the same overall.
The duty would be to advise their employer of this so that they can decide whether to use the product in the project at all. This important duty means that the client may have a high-quality project but at a reduced cost over.
So, let us take a refresh on the main duties of the quantity surveyor in the construction industry:
With the above bullet points, it is the main duty to be accurate in the information, reports, and advice that a quantity surveyor provides to their clients. In the next blog, we will look at the roles of a quantity surveyor in the various companies they can work for.
Companies such a client-side or practice quantity surveyor, a builders or contractors quantity surveyor, a subcontractor’s quantity surveyor or a few other types of roles they can play.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog on the duties of a quantity surveyor and we hope it has given you an informative insight into those duties throughout the life cycle of a project. If you like the blog, please feel free to share it on your favorite social media platform and leave a comment below!