Roles of a Quantity Surveyor

Modified: 2nd Aug 2018
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A Quantity Surveyor is an individual whom works on projects ranging from office blocks, schools, hospitals, factories to bridges, railways, oil and mining development, ship building and large process engineering works such as oil refineries, and anywhere that major construction work is carried out. Traditionally this role has been performed by a highly trained person with extensive knowledge in the operational procedures involved with construction or project management. This position often acts as an independent contractor and is a trusted and respected source for professional consultation. The roles of the Quantity Surveyor are diverse and vital to the project life cycle (Internet).

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Every Quantity Surveyor has the standard basic skill which is to draw up a bill of quantities which is a type of tender document that contains information regarding to the construction project. The measurements are taken from the drawings which must be in accordance with the standard measurement method which is agreed or accepted and will be priced by the contractors. The documents will be used throughout the whole construction project and are for valuation and cost control purposes. The Quantity Surveyor estimate and monitor construction costs, from the feasibility stage of a project through to the completion of the construction period as part of an advisor’s role. After the completion of construction, the Quantity Surveyor may have to be involved with tax depreciation schedules, arbitration and mediation if necessary, and cost estimation for insurance purposes. They are employed on most construction projects as consultants to the owner, in both private and public sectors. They would have to work hand in hand with architects, financiers, engineers, contractors, suppliers, project owners, accountants, insurance underwriters, solicitors and Courts and even with all levels of government authorities.

The roles of Quantity Surveyor come in handy when at times of:

Cost planning is a advance technique used by the QS team and it is mainly to help all the construction team members to arrive accordingly at practical designs for a project and make sure the projects are within budgets. The Qs will have to make sure that everything has to follow in accord to the estimates which have been agreed, from the beginning of successful contractor’s tender to the final project cost. In planning construction cost, it is very important that maintenance and running cost cannot be neglected in order to attain a project that is cost effective throughout its life. The QS will have to rapidly deal with the cost implication when the client decided that there is a change of plans and when variations are introduced. Cost planning can improve economy standards and also better value for money. Constant monitoring can avoid the risk of overspending if they are spotted early and proper corrective actions are taken, thus help the client to save money.

Value management

Value management is an act which aims to eliminate waste from the design or client’s brief, thus at the same time the safety and main functions of the projects are retained. The objective of this value management is to deliver the project function to the expected quality so that the best value for the money can be expended. In this case, it does not necessary mean to be at lowest initial cost, but all factors impacting upon the projects which are considered as a whole are proven of the highest value (anonymous, internet).A QS is a well qualified person to direct the value management studies on a project. From this value management, the project team can obtain a clearer understanding of the involved project objectives and functions thus reducing any unnecessary costs are being made able. In this value management, it also labels the whole life implications in terms of both cost and also the client’s business objectives of the building design.

The Life Cycle Costing

The cost of a project cannot be evaluated base on the initial cost alone. It is long been proven that although a constructed facility is cheap but may appears to be in long term, can be a lot more expensive than one with much higher initial cost. The life cycle costing is about a procurement evaluation technique which determines the total cost of acquisition, operation, maintaining and disposal of the items acquired; the lowest ownership cost during the time the item is in use (anonymous, internet). The life cycle costing assessment should not only considering the characteristics of the constructed facility, the sustainability, the maintainability, the reusability and obsolescence, but they must also not neglect the initial capital cost, the maintenance cost, the operational cost, the residual and disposal costs. Both economic and non-economic performance of constructed facility can be checked in this way.

The QS will be the one who monitor all the life cycle costing analysis. The impact of all costs are considered rather than only the initial capital cost to ensure that different constructed facilities can be more efficiently evaluated and to help the effective management of a completed facility are the main objectives of life cycle costing. The building clients can obtain the best value for their money this way.

Preliminary Cost Advice

A QS is the person whom will be giving practical advices on stuffs which has to do with the cost of the project. The QS will also prepare the cost studies and advice on the structural forms, the choice of materials, the alternative design solutions, the construction sequence and the maintenance cost .From that, a detailed cost plan can be prepared for budgetary control.

Facilities Management

Facilities management is an extremely wide and all embracing activity involving many types of functions such as assets management, office management and housekeeping, building and engineering maintenance.

Among the definitions of facilities management, but it could be borne in mind that there exist some common themes, or characteristics, as follows:

it will be needing integrated multi-disciplinary professional services;

it have reference to built asset – the workplace;

it will have to help the organization in achieving its objectives.

However there’s no one individual, nor profession, who would be able to fulfill all the required technical functions included in the concept of facilities management. Still and all, if there is any specifically trained or experienced QS is in charge, he will be able to understand and define theobjectives of the client’s organization, thus be able to coordinate and provide the most appropriate facilities management services.

Procurement Methods

The QS are known for their expertise, knowledge and tools which are useful in the selection of the “right” suppliers or contractors for any given projects. There are no two projects which are exactly the same. Most of the projects (and many smaller ones) have their own challenges and needs their own solution. Procurement through competitive tendering based on different types of forms of contract and options is the most common method option. The QS are the person who prepares the bills of quantities which are used for the tendering. The bills containing documents of an itemized breakdown of the works to be carried out in a unit price contract, indicating a quantity for each item and the corresponding unit price. The bills of quantities are the crucial element in both effective cost control and also the basis of valuation of variations during construction. On different occasions, different tendering method and contractual arrangement may be used depending on the client’s requirement. It may include tendering method such as the traditional method, the design and build, the construction management, the guaranteed maximum price, the prime cost contract and cost plus, and many more. The QS role is to provide advice to the client on the best choice of contractual arrangement depending on the circumstances that the client’s required.


Competitive tendering of the same kind or differing type remains the usual basis for construction contracts, while the bills of quantities are the fundamental to this process. The designers produced drawings and specifications which are translated by the bill of quantities into documents which would allows a contractor to calculate his tender price accordingly and on the exact same basis as his competitors. In the process of constructions, the QS are also an important element in effective cost control. If there are other tendering procedures which are appropriate, the QS will recommend alternatives.

Contractual Advice

The QS have to be are able to provide both commercial and contractual advice to all corporations such as the developers, the government bodies, the contractors and subcontractors, for all types of civil engineering, building and structural projects.  

The type of service for contractual advice covers:

Contract administration: site set-up, valuations of work in progress, subcontract procurement, measurements, assessment of rates, cost reporting and variations.

Contract documents: warranties, bonds and guarantees, selection of appropriate standard forms of contract, the interpretation, drafting of special conditions and forms of contract.

The Valuation of construction work

The contractor is paid every month in most of the construction contracts unless otherwise specified. The QS role is to value the works carried out each month by the contractor on the project involved and submit a recommendation for payment.

Insurance Advice

The QS may help the employers to choose the most appropriate construction insurance. Construction sites are inherently dangerous places. This is why construction insurance is an important policy to have if they are going to run or manage a construction site. It is also known as Builders Risk Insurance, construction insurance provides safeguards for employers against construction workers being injured on site. Construction insurance does not exempt the employer from maintain a safe workplace. Usually, construction insurance policies only pay out if a strict set of health and safety guidelines are followed (anonymous, internet). It also protects the developing structure and the materials purchased for the construction for the loss due to damage or theft. The advantages of obtaining advices from the QS are:

Well aware in the manner of cost, all round advice on contractual matters, and with full of efficiency in construction activities;

Better communication with the involved parties such as insurers/employers/contractors/loss adjusters, which might be less efficient if it was handled general insurance practitioners.

Cost Control & Financial Management

Cost control might be one of the most important aspects which have to be monitored closely in any capital project. It is important because the client wants a good value for money from the project. The QS have to make sure that the required balance of expenditure between different elements of the project is achieved and also to keep the final expenditure of the project within the client’s required budged.

In general, cost control consists of three basic steps:

  • Build an overall cost target
  • Taking remedial action where necessary
  • Analyzing any deviations

In practice, the process of cost control shows an extent of professional activities such as cost analyses of previous projects, cost studies of different types of constructional options, cost planning/estimating, cost monitoring in time of the construction stage and cost reconciliation in time of the tendering stage. Regularly, the QS produce the cost estimates and financial which creates an important phrase of the financial management of capital projects. With these periodic financial reports, the clients are able to foresee the project’s progress and control their future financial commitments.


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