A Quantity Surveyor is a construction professional. His main expertise is primarily to carry out an estimate, project cost control, and quantity take-off. His duties include commercial, risk, and contract management to ensure that the party he works for receives the best value for money. In addition, it is his duty to allow for a smooth project flow from inception to completion.
Construction cost, construction management, and construction communications are all key problem areas for a client who commissions an important building or engineering project. A quantity surveyor is professionally qualified, trained, and experienced in dealing with these problems. In other words, he is essentially a cost expert. Therefore, his prime task is to ensure that the cost of the project to lie within the agreed budget. Also, he is responsible for obtaining value for money for the employer’s expenditure.
Some of the services he offers are preliminary cost advice and cost planning, preparation of bid documents, advice on the type of contract and method of obtaining bids. In addition, he negotiates with contractors and prepares valuations of work in progress and settlement of the final account.
However, he will at all times need to collaborate very closely with the consultant.
Range of services which Quantity Surveyor can offer:
a) Feasibility studies.
b) Procurement procedure.
c) Budget Estimating.
d) Cost vs. Design comparison.
e) Contractual procedure.
f) Value advise.
g) Preparation of Bill of Quantities.
h) Bid evaluation and reporting.
i) Site re-measurements.
j) Rate negotiation.
k) Checking of monthly payments and final accounts.
l) Financial reporting and cash flow projections.
m) Claims assessment and negotiations.
n) Advice on and participation in arbitration.
The Role of the Quantity Surveyor
As building work increased in volume and complexity, clients became dissatisfied with the methods adopted for settling the cost of the work. As a result, they recognized the advantage of employing an independent quantity surveyor to look into these matters.
In the beginning, the quantity surveyor prepares an accurate bill of quantities. After that, he forwards it to all bidding contractors for pricing. Then he would measure and value all works including any variations that might occur during the progress of the works and settle the final claim.
Another role of the quantity surveyor is to ensure the resources of the construction industry are utilized to the best advantage of society. He does this by providing, the financial management for projects and cost
consultancy services to clients and designers during the whole construction process.
The following describes the Role of the Quantity Surveyor in detail.
Preliminary Cost Advice
From the inception of a new building project, the quantity surveyor has to give practical advice on the likely cost of the scheme. In addition, he may advise on the comparative costs of alternative layouts, materials, components, and methods of construction. He can also assess how long it will take to build and can produce estimates of future maintenance and operating costs. After finishing the client’s brief, the quantity surveyor can prepare a realistic budget and a cost plan. In addition, he can show the distribution of costs over the various elements.
Cost planning aims to help all members of the design team to arrive jointly at practical and efficient designs for the project and to keep within the budget. In other words, effective cost planning will help to ensure that everything follows in accordance with the estimate, from the successful contractor’s tender to the final project cost.
If the client decides to change his plans and introduce variations, the quantity surveyor will assess the cost implication of those variations. For instance, with constant monitoring, the risk of overspending can be seen at an early stage. Then prompt corrective action can be taken to guide the project on to the correct path.
Cooperation between Consultant and Quantity Surveyor – for cost planning
The quantity surveyor acts as a specialist adviser to the consultant on all matters concerned with building cost. He offers considerable assistance to the consultant in advising on the financial effect of the design proposal. Above all, it helps in ensuring that the money available is put to the best possible use and that final costs are kept within the agreed budget.
Where the estimated cost of an element exceeds the cost target, then either the element must be redesigned or other cost targets reduced. Where a number of design elements would have to be adjusted to keep costs within the total cost limit, then this would result in a building of undesirably low quality. If so, the design team should request additional funds from the employer.
The number of contractual procedures has evolved from competitive bids, as the traditional method, to negotiated tenders with a single contractor and “design and build” contracts where contractors accept to design and
construct the whole project. The quantity surveyor can advise on the best form of contract for a specific project.
Competitive bidding, often from a selected list of contractors, remains a common basis for construction contracts. Bills of quantities are fundamental to this process.
Bills of quantities translate the drawings, schedules, and specification notes into a document listing in detail all the component parts required for the project. In addition, this enables each contractor to calculate his bid price on exactly the same basis as his competitors. However, in the absence of such a bill being prepared on behalf of the client, each contractor will have to prepare his own quantities in the limited amount of time allowed for bidding.
Choice of Contractor
The quantity surveyor provides sound and practical advice on contractor selection. The quantity surveyor will take factors such as industrial relation record, past performance, into account in making recommendations to the client on the makeup of the selected list.
Valuation of construction works
In most construction contracts, the contractor can submit claims monthly. The quantity surveyor will value the work carried out during each month on the project and submit a recommendation for certified payment. He will also settle the final account and prepare financial statements for the client.
It is important to ensure that any variations, claims, or extras do not raise the likely final account figure above the cost limit. It is necessary to monitor the financial effect of variations. And these should be costed by the quantity surveyor before they are issued.
The Role of the Quantity Surveyor in the public and private Sectors
In both the public and private sectors, the quantity surveyor is a member of the design team. The quantity surveyor gives advice to the client and the consultant on the probable costs of alternative designs.
This advice enables design and construction at all stages to be controlled within predetermined limits of expenditure.
He prepares bills of quantities and negotiates with contractors, prepares forecast of final costs and valuation for payments to the contractor as work proceeds.
He is responsible for the measurement and valuation of variations in the work during the contract and for the preparation and agreement of the contractor’s final account.
The Role of the Quantity Surveyor in the Contracting Organization
In contracting organizations, the duties of the quantity surveyor will vary according to the size of the firm employing him. The quantity surveyor employed by the contractor will aim to secure maximum payments for
the work done at the earliest possible time to avoid any possible cash flow problems. however, this is to undertake within the provisions of the contract and the contractor cannot receive more than his contractual
The contractor’s quantity surveyor’s activities can include;
- preparing bills of quantities for small projects,
- collecting information about the cost of various operations from which contractor can prepare future estimates,
- preparing details of the material requirements for the contracts in hand,
- compiling target figures for payment of bonuses to workers,
- preparing interim valuations so that the financial position of the contract can be ascertained as the work proceeds and appropriate action is taken when necessary,
- planning contracts and preparing progress charts in conjunction with site management,
- making applications to the consultant for variation orders if drawings or site instructions vary the work,
- agreeing with the value of variations and subcontractors’ accounts, and
- comparing the costs of alternative methods of carrying out various operations such as temporary works, so that the most economical can be adopted.