Quantity Surveying Quantity Surveying

What is Quantity Surveying: Cost Estimation Specialists


What is Quantity Surveying

Whether it’s a sports stadium, a tunnel, a bridge, a university, a residential building, a hospital, or a road, Quantity Surveying is in charge of estimating and supervising the expenses connected with its construction and maintenance. In most cases, they will be involved in a construction project all the way from the beginning to the end. Quantity Surveyors are capable of doing things like tax depreciation, insurance estimation, mediation, and arbitration in addition to their primary responsibilities.

Most quantity surveyors work for private enterprises or consulting organizations in an office setting. They could also work for the government, specifically for a state or territory agency. Once work has begun, however, Quantity Surveyors frequently visit the site to examine the financial implications of any adjustments or variations that may arise.

Although they play an essential role in project management, Quantity Surveyors tend to fly under the radar. These workers are unsung heroes in the vast world of building and infrastructure development. In this article, we’ll look into the fascinating profession of the Quantity Surveyor, discussing their roles, duties, and expertise in the building sector.

What is a quantity surveyor?      

The job of a Quantity Surveyor is to estimate how much money will be needed to complete a building or infrastructure project. However, their responsibilities go beyond simple cost estimates and include overseeing the efficient administration of building expenditures and output.

The term “quantity surveyor” comes from the profession’s primary responsibility. The development of a “schedule of quantities,” which includes estimates of material and labor expenses. The bids submitted by contractors are then compared against this timetable to determine their viability. Keep in mind that a low bid isn’t the only factor considered when choosing a contractor. A cost estimate is another name for the schedule of quantities.

Quantity surveyors may also use the terms “estimator,” “cost engineer,” “cost manager,” “cost analyst,” “project coordinator,” “project cost controller,” “project cost planner,” and “cost planner” in their daily work.


The History of Quantity Surveying

The past of Quantity Surveying is not likely to keep many people up at night, but it is nonetheless an intriguing excursion. So, let’s take a quick look at how this position came to be.

Quantity Surveyors have been around since before the United States of America was established in 1776, electricity was invented in 1879, and the first aero plane took to the skies in 1906. Surprisingly, surveying as a profession was first mentioned all the way back in 1750 in Ireland. In what is considered to be the first known instance of quantity surveying, Irish clergyman and architectural writer John Payne compiled a “True Bill of Materials” for the Barrack of Horse in Trim, County Meath.

There was a major turning point in 1802 when a group of Scottish quantity surveyors got together and devised the first system of measuring after the first quantity surveying firm had emerged in Reading, United Kingdom. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) was established on June 15, 1868, as The Institution of Surveyors in London.

Prior to the middle of the nineteenth century, bills of quantities were not typically prepared, and construction projects were measured and valued after they were finished. However, as the size of construction projects grew, so did client discontent with final cost estimates and agreements. This highlighted the importance of employing quantity surveyors. Beginning in the late 19th century, businesses began soliciting bids from numerous contractors before ultimately selecting one to carry out a given project.

Quantity surveying went through several major changes in the last century. In 1922, a standardized technique to measurement was introduced with the publication of The Standard Method of Measurement. In 1957, Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty created the first commercial numerical-control programming system called PRONTO, which was made possible thanks to technological advancements. SKETCHPAD, developed in 1960 by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, demonstrated the viability of computer technical drawing, and the first Computer-Aided Design (CAD) system was produced in 1982 to assist engineers and Quantity Surveyors.

Quantity Surveying has developed further in recent years, what with the prevalence of alternative strategies for acquiring building materials and an increasing interest in green building. The position continues to evolve alongside the needs of the business. You may trust that we will be here each week to guide you through these changes.

Why is a QS so important?

There is a pivotal person in the building industry who is essential to the success of each construction project, no matter how big or little. This knowledgeable expert is known as the “Quantity Surveyor” on construction projects.

The need for skilled Quantity Surveyors has persisted in recent years despite fluctuations in the economy. This is evidence of the sector’s acknowledgment of their significance. Quantity Surveyors are also working to solve problems that are plaguing the property and construction sector at the moment, such as the need for more attention to environmental factors while building new structures.

Quantity Surveyors have access to several chances for travel and employment abroad due to the widespread recognition of their credentials. Their skills are transferable from one country to another and from one project to another.

Quantity surveyors play a crucial role in the building industry by ensuring that projects are properly budgeted and managed. Their field is highly relevant in today’s business climate since it is fluid, versatile, and important.


What does a quantity surveyor do?

Estimating costs, materials, and completion times for projects are just some of the many things that fall within a Quantity Surveyor’s purview. To keep a project on track and within budget, a Quantity Surveyor will work closely with numerous groups and provide input into the project’s general management.

The role of a Quantity Surveyor entails a range of duties, including:

  • Working collaboratively with clients to understand their needs and aspirations.
  • Conducting preliminary estimations for project timeframes, costs, and resource requirements.
  • Developing and drafting proposals and agreements.
  • Evaluating and assessing potential commercial risks in the project.
  • Collaborating with external organizations to achieve project objectives.
  • Evaluating the value of work, managing financial aspects, and overseeing payments.
  • Ensuring compliance with quality standards and regulatory requirements for each project.
  • Prioritizing cost efficiency and maximizing returns to provide value to clients.
  • Providing cost estimates and advice for building maintenance.
  • Working on-site at client locations, in an office setting, or on construction sites.
  • Generating regular budget reports and adhering to building codes and health and safety regulations.        

Role of a Quantity Surveyor (QS) at Work

Prior to construction, a building’s plans and specifications are reviewed by a quantity surveyor. They calculate the time and materials required to complete the task. Accurate cost estimates can be obtained through the use of technological measurement devices in quantity surveying. This includes things like comparing your budget to industry norms, creating a lifecycle plan, and digging into historical building cost data. To ensure the structural integrity of their projects, quantity surveyors must have an in-depth understanding of relevant building codes.

The job of the quantity surveyor is to monitor costs closely at every stage of construction. Because of the critical role they play in modern economies, these experts have come into the spotlight in recent years. They provide precise cost estimates based on client requirements for each stage of construction.


How to Become a Quantity Surveyor

Here is a step-by-step guide to entering the field of quantity surveying: How to Become a Quantity Surveyor: The Ultimate Guide

Obtain an Education

Pursue a degree in construction management or a closely related field. Many employers prefer candidates with an academic background in this discipline. Consider enrolling in a four-year bachelor’s degree program in Construction Project Management offered by institutions like the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). It is important to choose a program that is approved by the Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (CIQS). Alternatively, if you have completed a recognized continuing education program, you can submit your transcript for review by CIQS.


Gain Work Experience

Acquire relevant work experience in the field to become a licensed quantity surveyor. Some educational programs incorporate internships as part of their curriculum. CIQS requires prospective members to maintain work diaries to document their progress and practical experience.

Complete the Practice Problem

Successfully complete a practice problem specifically designed for quantity surveying. This step involves an assessment of your understanding of the CIQS Code of Ethics and CIQS bylaws. You can only proceed to this stage after completing the first two steps.


Pass the Interview

Once you have completed the practice problem, you can schedule an interview with CIQS. They will provide you with a designated date, time, and location for the interview. Be prepared for a professional interview that typically lasts around one hour.

By following these steps, you can pave the way for a career in quantity surveying and increase your chances of success in the field.

Also, Read How to Become an Architect

Typical Employers

Quantity surveying graduates can find employment opportunities in various sectors and organizations, including:

  1. Quantity Surveying Consultancies
  2. Construction Companies, Contractors, and Consultancies
  3. Architects
  4. Project Management Consultancies
  5. Civil Engineering Contractors and Consultancies
  6. Property Firms
  7. House Builders and Housing Associations
  8. Local Authorities
  9. Specialist Surveying Practices
  10. Specialist Tax Consultants

Career Opportunities for Quantity Surveyors

If you are interested in pursuing a career in quantity surveying, here are the steps you can take:

  • Gain experience: Work in the field of quantity surveying to build your expertise and knowledge.
  • Move into contracting: With sufficient experience, you can transition into a contractor role, taking on independent projects and managing your own teams.
  • Explore consultancy-based employment: Many quantity surveyors are attracted to consultancy roles due to the higher salaries and the opportunity to work on a broader range of projects.
  • Consider working abroad: Quantity surveyors have opportunities to work in various locations, particularly in cities like Dubai that are undergoing significant building expansions.
  • Explore project management: Some quantity surveyors choose to become project managers, utilizing their budgeting and control skills to direct and coordinate construction projects.
  • Explore related fields: Quantity surveyors, with their expertise in cost estimation, can explore other career paths within the building and real estate industries.
  • Seek career advancement: Continuously seek opportunities to take on more responsibilities and expand your reach within the construction business.

By following these steps, quantity surveyors can advance their careers and broaden their professional horizons.


What educational background and training are required for a quantity surveyor?

To excel as a quantity surveyor, a solid understanding of cost prediction, output estimation, and project timelines is essential. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are necessary to coordinate with various stakeholders involved in a project. Knowledge of construction practices, materials, and regulations is crucial for accurately estimating costs and effectively managing construction projects.

What are the primary responsibilities of a quantity surveyor?

The key duties of a quantity surveyor include:
1. Conduct feasibility studies to determine potential resource requirements, timeframes, and costs.
2. Preparing, negotiating, and analyzing bids, contracts, and associated expenses.
3. Ensuring project adherence to financial and time-related plans.

What are the main areas of responsibility for quantity surveyors?

Quantity surveyors, also known as Construction Cost Consultants or Commercial Managers, have a wide range of responsibilities, including but not limited to:
1. Monitoring project finances and legal obligations.
2. Maintaining accurate financial records and documenting cash flows.
3. Managing project budgets effectively.
4. Conducting cost assessments and analyses.
5. Providing expertise in contract management, risk assessment, procurement, and conflict resolution.

Why should someone consider a career as a quantity surveyor?

Choosing a career as a quantity surveyor offers several advantages, such as:
1. Acquiring skills in financial management, contract administration, and procurement.
2. Opportunities for career advancement and skill development.
3. Involvement in diverse construction projects, fostering professional growth.
4. Competitive salaries and potential for progression with experience.
5. Contributing to the success of building projects through effective financial management and cost control.

How can one select a suitable quantity surveyor?

When selecting a quantity surveying company, consider the following six guidelines:
1. Clearly define your objectives and expectations when seeking a quantity surveyor.
2. Look for a company with proven expertise in cost control and efficient budget management.
3. Evaluate the company’s conflict resolution processes and methods.
4. Learn more about the quantity surveying team by arranging a face-to-face meeting.
5. Seek references, testimonials, and case studies to assess the company’s track record.
6. Ensure the selected company aligns with your project requirements and criteria.

Are there different types of quantity surveyors?

Quantity surveyors can be classified into two main categories:
1. Client-appointed quantity surveyors are hired by clients to handle project finances.
2. In-house quantity surveyors work for construction firms and are responsible for internal cost estimates, contracts, and accounting.

How can quantity surveyors progress in their careers?

A quantity surveyor typically progresses through three key stages in their career:
1. Graduate/Junior Quantity Surveyor: Focused on learning and gaining experience in quantity surveying.
2. Quantity Surveyor/Senior Quantity Surveyor: Assumes middle management responsibilities, including cost forecasting, contract administration, and project management.
3. Managing Quantity Surveyor/Commercial Manager: A senior-level position involving strategic decision-making, leading a team of quantity surveyors, and overseeing multiple projects.

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