Quantity surveyors play a critical role at the heart of building and construction projects of all sizes and types, be it a simple residential extension or a multi-million-pound project for an international company. Despite their level of importance and high visibility throughout a project, a quantity surveyors’ role is not always well understood. We will answer the question: what do quantity surveyors do?
In this article, we explore what a quantity surveyor is, what their key tasks are, what makes a good surveyor, a day in a life of a JB QS, how you become one and the skills and qualities that clients should look for when choosing a quantity surveyor. We also make some predictions as to how the role of a quantity surveyor is likely to develop in the future.
What Is A Quantity Surveyor?
A quantity surveyor is a construction industry professional with expert knowledge of construction costs and contracts. They are responsible for estimating and controlling costs for construction projects and ensuring that each project adheres to legal, regulatory, and quality standards. The quantity surveyor also reports the financial position of the project to the project team and client at regular intervals.
What Are The Key Tasks That A Quantity Surveyor Completes?
Quantity surveyors are involved in and responsible for multiple tasks throughout the different phases involved in a building/construction project. While there are repetitive tasks and processes that they will engage with, the tasks will vary from day to day. This depends on the challenges faced by each project that they oversee.
Completing Feasibility Studies
There are many key tasks that a quantity surveyor will complete. Firstly, they conduct feasibility studies to estimate materials, time, and labour costs. This is a critical task which assesses whether a project remains viable, value for money and likely to generate a return on investment. A feasibility study will be conducted initially before a project commences. Many smaller studies are completed throughout the life of a project to continually assess feasibility.
Preparing, Negotiating & Analysing Tenders
Secondly, a quantity surveyor is responsible for preparing, negotiating, and analysing costs for tenders and contracts. This key task involves communicating with the various subcontractors and stakeholders that are part of any given project. As part of this, they make recommendations as to their preferred supplier/s and then negotiate the best possible terms with each supplier. This helps them to deliver value for money. Analysing costs is the final part of this key task and helps them and the wider project to understand all the different elements that influence a given cost so they can effectively control it.
Thirdly, the coordination of work effort is within their remit. This involves collaborating and communicating with all of the subcontractors involved in a project and ensuring that they remain on track with their work packages. If a particular stage of the project is within a critical path, the quantity surveyor will liaise with all the affected subcontractors. They will help each one to coordinate their element of the work efficiently and effectively. This will help to ensure that the project remains on-time and on-budget.
Advising On Legal & Contractual Issues
Fourthly, a quantity surveyor will advise the project team on a diverse range of legal and contractual issues. The issues may include contractual disputes between the client and a subcontractor, contract and tender queries, contract vetting, advice and interpretation of contracts and tenders.
Valuing Completed Works
Finally, quantity surveyors complete valuations of completed work and arrange for the relevant subcontractors to be paid. As part of this task, they assess completed work to ensure that it has been completed in accordance with the relevant contract/tender. They also check that the work has been completed to the agreed quality standards. Based on their assessment of completed works, they present information on the cost of different work packages to the client or relevant team and plan for payment.
What Makes A Good Quantity Surveyor?
While every good quantity surveyor is an individual with their own characteristics and ways of working, there are many characteristics and skills that good quantity surveyors share including:
- Strong numerical knowledge and acumen – this is essential for estimating and controlling costs throughout a project
- Excellent attention to detail – drafting, negotiating and analysing contracts and tenders requires a keen eye for detail even when presented with significant amounts of information
- Analytical thinking skills – quantity surveyors are routinely required to review important documents including tenders and legal agreements and make sound judgements on them. They also need to be able to critically review costs and completed works and take important decisions
- Good understanding of engineering, science and technology – Engineering, science and technology are key elements of every building/construction project. A QS needs a good understanding in each area to remain effective throughout all their day-to-day tasks
- Knowledge of building and construction – the building and construction sector is very unique and has specific terminology, characteristics, and ways of working that everyone operating within it need to be aware of
- Self-starter with an ability to use their initiative – making difficult decisions based on numerical evidence and sound analytical judgments is part of a typical day for a professional quantity surveyor
Day In The Life Of A JB Associates Quantity Surveyor
No two days are exactly the same in the day in the life of a JB Associates quantity surveyor. Being a quantity surveyor is a fast paced and challenging role and each day brings its own unique challenges. These depend on the project/s that the quantity surveyor is engaged in.
However, on a typical day our quantity surveyors will be recording and monitoring variations within projects to assess and determine if the cost is suitable. This is an on-going process that must be completed for all of the different stages and phases in a construction project. Following on from variations, they will complete monthly payment applications or certificates for completed works that they have inspected and valued. Whether applications or certificates are used depends on if they are client or contractor based for the project. Once they have valued their work and completed either an application or certificate. The relevant subcontractor/s can be paid for that particular task.
So far, all their tasks have been about working on present projects. A JB Associates quantity surveyors’ day also involves an element of forward-thinking. Our quantity surveyors will also measure and collect information on material quantities in order to produce cost plans. These costs plans are then used to assess the feasibility of future projects. This is important as it helps clients to be prepared not just for the present but also the future.
The final element of a typical day involves attending progress and commercial meetings with clients. During these meetings, they discuss project updates and any relevant issues that have occurred. This is one of the most important parts of a typical day as everything that we do is focused on delivering for our clients. Meeting are an important way of keeping them informed and involved throughout every phase of their project.
How Do You Become A Quantity Surveyor?
There are multiple pathways that can be followed to become a quantity surveyor with each pathway suiting different individuals. Many aspiring quantity surveyors will follow the academic route by studying for GCSE’s and A-Levels, which include English and Maths. After this, completing a degree in quantity surveying or a relevant subject such as construction or civil engineering is popular. Other students that have completed a degree in a different subject can complete a RICS-accredited postgraduate conversion course. After completing either a relevant degree or a different degree and an accredited conversion course. You can apply for a role in industry.
The academic pathway is by no means the only way to become a quantity surveyor. Many quantity surveyors follow the apprenticeship route by completing a degree apprenticeship in quantity surveying and project management. This combines work with part-time study. For people that do not have a degree or apprenticeship, you may decide to start working in the sector as a technical surveyor or surveying technician. While do this, you can complete part-time study to become a full quantity surveyor.
Many quantity surveyors start working in the construction industry as a tradesman and later progress into a QS role. This can provide you with valuable experience and a good understanding of the different viewpoints held by different members of a construction project team.
What Skills And Qualities Should A Client Look For When Choosing A Quantity Surveyor?
Choosing a quantity surveyor is an important and sometimes difficult decision. You will want to choose someone that works in your best interest and has the necessary skills and qualities to deliver a successful project outcome.
There are many skills and qualities that you should be looking for when you choose a quantity surveyor. Firstly, they should have relevant experience and long-standing relationships within the construction industry. A quantity surveyor with long-standing relationships and great industry contacts will be a truly invaluable member of your project team. The connections that they have will help to make your project a success.
Secondly, every good quantity surveyor has the ability to deliver successful project outcomes based on years of experience and expertise. They should have relevant case studies and references to confirm their ability to deliver.
Thirdly, a proactive attitude is an absolute must in the fast-paced and challenging construction industry. You will want a surveyor that anticipates and prepares for construction challenges. While also and managing key risks throughout the lifecycle of the project. Proactivity on the part of your quantity surveyor will help keep your project on-time, on-budget and to the agreed quality standards.
Fourthly, every client needs a quantity surveyor that remains very calm under pressure. Each construction/building project is going to have a series of challenges and difficult situations to overcome at each stage. A calm and collected QS will be able to guide your project forward. They will be best placed to effectively respond to challenges and difficult situations as they arise. Decisions that are based on logical and analytical reasoning rather than emotions deliver exceptional project outcomes.
How Is The Role Of A Quantity Surveyor Likely To Develop In The Future?
The role of a quantity surveyor is ever-changing as the construction industry adapts to meet new challenges. This is part of the process required to deliver successful outcomes for clients. Technology in particular already has and will continue to play a significant role in the development of the QS. It has already reduced the need to travel by enabling remote working and improved onsite communication. Intelligent tools that foster collaboration are a key part of this.
Further to this, advancements in Building Information Modelling (BIM) and measurement software have already altered the services and roles undertaken by the traditional QS. While no specific direction can be accurately predicted for the future as it is ever-changing along with the industry as a whole. Technology is set to play a greater and more significant role in the day-to-day work of a quantity surveyor. This will empower them to work smarter and increase their effectiveness through making the most of technological advancements. Despite this, the title of ‘quantity surveyor’ remains reflective of the duties that they carry out. Although the traditional role is set to change beyond recognition. As long as the construction industry exists, there is still a need for a dedicated person to quantify, measure and value works. As a result of this, the QS role has a bright future ahead.
Quantity Surveying Services In Hampshire & London
The qualified and chartered quantity surveyors at JB Associates are ready to help with your construction/building project. JB Associates provide quantity surveying services as a RICS registered firm for commercial and domestic projects. Our team has the right quantity surveyors to help you deliver a successful project. Each of our proactive surveyors ensure that the contractual and financial aspects of your project are taken care of. At JB Associates, you can expect to work with professionals that you can trust. Our client base includes WeWork, IBM, Telefonica, Kier, Balfour Beatty, Interserve, CBRE, Ramboll and Jersey Airport.
Why not contact JB Associates for a no-obligation discussion about your quantity surveying requirements? We look forward to advising you how our RICS quantity surveying services can be the perfect fit for your construction project. Email us at [email protected] or call: 01590 688 928.