Quantity surveying is primarily centered on construction and the management of the costs and budgets of large projects. From the moment a plan is drawn until a large construction project has been completed, a quantity surveyor is likely to be involved in a legal, technical and financial capacity. The functions of a quantity surveyor are broadly concerned with the control of the cost on construction projects, the management and maintenance of the budget, valuations and any legal matters arising through the course of the project. They are required to make sure that the project remains profitable and efficient.
Quantity surveyors need to be highly numerate, commercially aware, professionally trained and great communicators. The job requires a combination of technical, financial and legal knowledge.
Surveyors seek to minimize the costs of a project and enhance value for money, while still achieving the required standards and quality. Many of these are specified by statutory building regulations, which the surveyor needs to understand and adhere to. A quantity surveyor may work for either the client or the contractor, working in an office or on site.
When the project is in progress, quantity surveyors keep track of any variations to the contract that may affect costs and create reports to show profitability.
The title of the job may also be referred to as a construction cost consultant or commercial manager.
Typical work activities
Responsibilities vary depending on the nature and stage of the project being worked on, but can include:
- preparing tender and contract documents, including bills of quantities with the architect and/or the client;
- undertaking cost analysis for repair and maintenance project work;
- assisting in establishing a client’s requirements and undertaking feasibility studies;
- performing risk, value management and cost control;
- advising on procurement strategy;
- identifying, analyzing and developing responses to commercial risks;
- preparing and analyzing costings for tenders;
- allocating work to subcontractors;
- providing advice on contractual claims;
- analyzing outcomes and writing detailed progress reports;
- valuing completed work and arranging payments;
- maintaining awareness of the different building contracts in current use;
- understanding the implications of health and safety regulations.
Areas that may be worked on once the surveyor has experience and specialized knowledge include:
- offering advice on property taxation;
- providing post-occupancy advice, facilities management services and life cycle costing advice;
- assisting clients in locating and accessing additional and alternative sources of funds;
- enabling clients to initiate construction projects;
- advising on the maintenance costs of specific buildings.