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As a project stakeholder, you need to be sure your construction project is on time and on the budget, and that you’re getting the best quality for your money – but how do you achieve this?

In a nutshell, you call in a quantity surveyor: a professional, whose job it is to ensure that you receive maximum value for your money. Quantity surveyors will help you acquire premium quality materials and labour at the most cost-effective rates. From years of experience, they know that virtually any project can at any time be subject to unexpected costs, and they are there to keep things running smoothly whatever the situation. Here’s a list of the main things a quantity surveyor would do during any construction project:

  • Quantity take-off
  • Estimation
  • Cost control and management
  • Contract Management
  • Risk management
  • Procurement
  • Project management

Let’s take a look at each one in isolation.

1. Quantity take-off – this is when a quantity surveyor uses drawings and designs to work out the amount of material and work items that need to be performed in order to complete a task. After measuring all the quantities, the quantity surveyor transfers them into a Bill of Quantities (BOQ). This is basically a shopping list. But instead of your groceries, it lists all the items that need to be completed in order to finish a task.

2. Estimation – once your BOQ is ready, an estimator can use it to build the rates in line with the list of quantities. So, for example, if the BOQ shows that there is 10m3 of concrete to be poured into a foundation, the estimator works out the cost of performing that task. This would include working out the cost of the concrete, the labour required to put the concrete in the right place, and the plant required to do the job.

3. Cost control and management – can occur at any stage during the project. As soon as a construction project has been initiated, the challenge of cost control and management starts, and with it comes another key role for our quantity surveyor. Controlling the cost from the very start is vital if the project is to be completed within a particular budget. Having been involved in setting the budget for a project, the quantity surveyor must ensure that the budget remains realistic as the project progresses. Unforeseen hurdles can increase costs. The quantity surveyor’s job is to minimize these costs throughout the project. This can be achieved by allocating risks to other parties.

4. Contract management – The quantity surveyor may also act as a negotiator during the construction. For example, if a certain change in the project is likely to affect costs, the surveyor may negotiate with the party concerned and reach a mutually beneficial solution. Sometimes, if the owner is running short of cash, the quantity surveyor can work with the bank to acquire extra financing for the project.

5. Risk management – another important part of the construction that involves quantity surveyors. The ability to identify risks requires experience and knowledge of the challenges that have faced former projects. Identifying risks is a challenge in itself within an industry notorious for having so many. The quantity surveyor must also understand and take steps to compensate for any impact the risk may have on the project. At the start of a project, the quantity surveyor would generally populate a risk register, which would be managed throughout the construction process. When faced with absolutely unforeseeable risks – such as a key subcontractor going out of business – arising during the project, quantity surveyors have to manage as best they can.

6. Procurement – the purchasing of all the elements required in order for the project to go ahead. The quantity surveyor will generally be tasked with putting together subcontractor packages, scopes, lettings and procurement schedules. This includes preparing the correct project documentation and information to be sent out to other parties for pricing. Once the parties have submitted their tenders, the quantity surveyor reviews the prices and deals with any items that need clarification. After reaching a decision on the best value for money, the quantity surveyornegotiates a contract with the winning bidder. This process cantake from one day to six months depending on the complexity of the items being procured.

7. Project Management – this is where a quantity surveyor can really get a hold of a project and make sure that it runsproperly. Project management makes demands on all the quantity-surveyor skills discussed so far.
A quantity surveyor is truly one of the most valuable members you can have on your team. An experienced quantity surveyor will have all the qualities needed in order to succeed in the fields listed above. Thus making them a valuable asset to any construction team.

A quantity surveyor is truly one of the most valuable members you can have on your team. An experienced quantity surveyor will have all the qualities needed in order to succeed in the fields listed above. Thus making them a valuable asset to any construction team.

Conclusion

As a quantity surveyor on a construction project, you are part estimator and part negotiator. It is therefore important to be an effective team player. Having strong quantitative skills helps candidates to prepare accurate budgets and reports that help stakeholders keep up to speed with project spending. With state-of-the-art construction projects being initiated in the year 2018 a quantity surveyor can play an effective role in the country’s economy.