A quantity surveyor manages all costs relating to building and civil engineering projects, from the initial calculations to the final figures. Surveyors seek to minimise 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. They are involved in a project from the start, preparing estimates and costs of the work. When the project is in progress, quantity surveyors
The title of the job may also be referred to as a construction cost consultant or commercial manager.
Typical tasks may include:
Areas requiring more specialised knowledge include:
A Quantity Surveyor can identify and collate the costs involved in order to develop an overall budget for any project. They can then undertake cost planning which aims to help all members of the design team arrive at practical solutions and stay within the project budget. It is the final detailed estimate prepared by the Quantity Surveyors, in consultation with a project architect, which forms a basis on which subsequent tenders can be evaluated. Schedules of quantities translate the drawing, plans and specifications produced by the design team to enable each contractor to calculate tender prices fairly, on exactly the same basis as the competitors.
Once tenders have been accepted, the Quantity Surveyor can provide cash flow data to enable a client to programme his resources adequately to meet contract commitments. In other words, the Quantity Surveyor decides how much of a job should be paid for at any one time. With interest rates the way they are, no one wants to hand over money before it is due.
In most construction contracts, the contractor is paid monthly and the Quantity Surveyor can value the work carried out each month submitting a recommendation for certified payment.
The Quantity Surveyor can also be called on to assess cost effects when changes occur and agree on variation with contractors.
Following completion of a contract, the Quantity Surveyor prepares a statement of final account, summarising the cost charges that have occurred and arriving at a final contract sum.
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Quantity surveyors are employed predominantly on major building and construction projects asconsultants to the owner, in both the public and private sectors. They may also work as academics in the building and construction disciplines and in financial institutions, with developers and as project managers.
Quantity Surveyors work closely with architects, financiers, engineers, contractors, suppliers, project owners, accountants, insurance underwriters, solicitors and Courts and with all levels of government authorities.
Quantity surveyors get their name from the Bill of Quantities, a document which itemises thequantities of materials and labour in a construction project. This is measured from design drawings, to be used by the contractors for tendering and for progress payments, for variations and changes and ultimately for statistics, taxation and valuation.
At feasibility stage quantity surveyors use their knowledge of construction methods and coststo advise the owner on the most economical way of achieving his requirements. Quantity surveyors may use techniques such as Cost Planning, Estimating, Cost Analysis, Cost-in-use Studies and Value Management to establish a project budget.
During design the quantity surveyor ensures that the design remains on budget through Cost Management. Essential additions are offset by identified other savings.
On completion of design and drawings, the quantity surveyor may prepare a Bill of Quantities, which is issued with the specification, for use by contractors in submitting tenders. The contractor�s quantity surveyors/estimators generally prepare tenders, and may price alternatives for consideration.
The quantity surveyor is usually involved in assessing tenders and may also have been asked to advise on the type of contract or special clauses in it.
During construction the quantity surveyors are called on to fairly value progress payments at regular intervals. They will also value changes to design or quantities which may arise by reference to appropriate Bill of Quantities rates. The contractor�s quantity surveyor/contract administrator will have prepared claims for progress payments and additional work.
When construction is complete the quantity surveyor can produce depreciation schedules of the various project components and advise on realistic insurance replacement costs. In the case of construction disputes the quantity surveyor is often called on as an expert witness, and somequantity surveyors act as arbitrators. Both the contractor�s and owner�s quantity surveyorswill be involved in this.
In addition to new projects, quantity surveyors also use their skills in refurbishment of old buildings, alterations to existing buildings and insurance replacement estimates. In public authorities they maintain cost statistics on a state or nation-wide basis, and there are opportunities for academic careers in the building disciplines.
Quantity surveyors must have orderly and analytical minds and be prepared to work to veryrigid time schedules. As decisions involving large sums of money are often made using information produced by them they must be accurate in all aspects of their work.
Quantity surveyors work in the private sector with consulting firms, in the public sector mainly with the State Government Departments/Authorities and the Australian Construction Service, and increasingly with building contractors, financiers, property developers, project managers and universities.