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Quantity Surveyor Role Description

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Construction
Wordcount: 2946 words Published: 10th Jul 2018

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Quantity surveyor is the person/ firm who manage the cost relating to the construction projects, such as new constructions, maintenance work and renovations. A quantity surveyor monitors the cost of every aspects of a construction project as a cost expert, as well as seeks to minimize the costs of the project and to make more cost savings while ensuring the total cost of project does not exceed the estimated cost.

Historical background of quantity surveying

Origin of Quantity Surveying

According to the AIQS Publication, by article of A Brief History of Quantity Surveying; “It is believed that the ancient Egyptians used a system of quantity surveying but it was not until the 17th century restoration of London after the Great fire that Quantity Surveyors developed as an occupation.”

“In these early days the quantity surveyor acted for the master tradesmen, measuring the work after completion.” (Blackburn, 1998, p3)

Although Quantity Surveyors were probably active in Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Singapore, USA, Some Europe country, and all Asian county since lone ago.

Generally, Historical background of quantity surveying is based on;

  • Functions of bill of quantities,
  • Contract documentation,
  • Processes used in quantity surveying work,
  • Other measurement approaches,
  • Agreed rules of measurement,
  • National standard building elements, etc.

In the seventeenth century the architects were responsible for the erection of buildings, as well as their design, and they employed a number of master craftsmen who performed the work in each trade. (Seeley and Winfield’s Building Quantities Explained)

Up to the middle of the nineteenth century it was the practice to measure and value the building work after it had been completed and bills of quantities were not prepared. (Seeley and Winfield’s Building Quantities Explained)

Key Roles and Responsibilities in Traditional systems

In previous days quantity surveyors duties were limited to measuring quantities for find out the value of proposed work or value of completed work. This traditional role specially involve for small and medium size project based on measure and value system. Also the prepared Bill of Quantities for tendering, interim valuation and final payment process purposes.

Generally, when study significant role and responsibility of traditional Quantity Surveyor can be described as follows (Pre Contract stage and post contract stage);

  • Elemental Cost Estimate.
  • Measurements.
  • Bill of Quantity Preparation.
  • Tender Document Preparation.
  • Analyzing.
  • Estimating and Tendering.
  • Tender Evaluation.
  • Tender Clarification Meetings.
  • Negotiation Meetings.
  • Kick of Meeting.
  • Progress on Site.
  • Variation Order Calculations.
  • Variation Order negotiation.
  • Payment Certifications.
  • Financial Statements.
  • Final Accounts.

Hence, The Contractor or Consultant/ Client’s Quantity Surveyors were involved with these roles and responsible for look after financial interests as they expected in his investment.

Procurement methods

In older days also quantity surveyors had knowledge concerning specific procurement methods involving with quantity surveying role, it can describe simply as follows;

Form of Contracts; JCT form (Joint Contract Tribunal), FIDIC form, NEC form, ICTAD form of contract in Sri Lanka.

Types of Contract are; Traditional Methods such as Cost Reimbursement (Cost plus contract, Cost plus fixed price contract, Cost plus target contract, etc.), Lum-sum Contract, Measure and pay contract,

Measurement and Preparation of BOQ; they were used standards method of measurements for preparation of Bill of Quantities and required quantification process (SMM7, CESSM3, POMI, etc.)

Preparation of Tender/Contract Documents; according to the standards of form of tender (Bid), Form of agreement, instruction to tenders, condition of contract, general conditions, specification, drawings, BOQ, Specimen standard forms (Bonds and Guarantees), Contract documents,

Tendering & Estimating; involved with calling tenders, opening tenders, tender evaluate based on predetermined estimate, preparing final report for tender award.

Cost Control; during the construction period, Quantity surveyor prepared cost report for advice the client by predicting expected final account.

Interim Valuation/ Final statements; prepared by Contractor Quantity surveyor in order to all work done under original scope and engineer / client Quantity surveyor were certified.

Settlement of Contract claims and dispute resolution; Giving notice, contemporary records, disruption claims, EOT clams

Contemporary Background of Quantity surveying

The quantity surveying profession largely developed through the 20th century and up to this century,

According to the PP presentation ‘moss construction cost management inc’ as Contemporary Role;

  • Client advocate and representative
  • Construction design and economics
  • Construction planning & procurement
  • Construction administration and management
  • Project management

Pre-Contract Cost Planning and Cost Control process are also very important process involving use in this level. It is a pre-costing method of a project.

As well as Quantity surveyor monitors the cost of every phases of a construction project as a cost manager to minimize the costs of the project and make more cost savings for the project success.

What is background of modern Quantity Surveyor practice?

The Modern quantity surveyors provide services that cover all aspects of procurement, contractual and project cost management. They can either work as consultants or they can be employed by a contractor or sub-contractor. As well as newly developing areas of project management and value management (Definition of Quantity Surveyors – Surveyors.com).

“Quantity Surveyors will become outmoded unless they find a new role.” (Egan, 1999, p1)

The role of the Quantity Surveyor has changed thus considerably in recent years, so then in several project employ themselves as ‘cost consultants’ and ‘project managers, mostly due to the recession. As well as engage to advice on the cost implications of construction.

However, QS’s are moving away from their traditional role and are now offering services such as Value Engineering, Business Risk Management, Management Consultancy, Facilities Management and Project Management.

What are the significant key roles which have been changed as modern practice?

There are some specific roles that identified has being changed into modern quantity surveyor role since in resent period.

Those are as follows;

Investment appraisal

Investment appraisal is an essential part of capital budgeting, hence within modern Quantity surveyor practice would worry final returns of the investment.

Advice on cost limits and budgets

When entering to construction investment need well defined budget, it is imperative that you know your construction budget limits. Hence clear advice on cost limits and budget need to be changed.

Whole life costing

Whole-life appraisal or life-cycle costing, also known as “cost-in-use”, describes the modeling technique aimed at coping with the mixture of capital and running costs of buildings and the effect on ownership of a building.(Ferry and Brandon, 1991: 43-44).

Value Management

Value Management is a systematic approach and process earlier referred to as value engineering, to ensure delivery of a function or product at the lowest cost without detriment to quality, performance or reliability (Ashworth, 2004: 409- 421; Green, 1992).

Hence under modern practice of QS Value management/ engineering is vital process respectively find out unnecessary cost on each activity.

Risk analysis

Identification of possible risks in advance is an important and major responsibility. The Quantity Surveyor is able to take necessary actions to avoid or minimize the risks by identifying them early. Safety of work, Economic matters, Weather conditions, political matters, etc; also includes in risk management under modern practice.

Insolvency Services

The quantity surveyor is cost expert, hence in modern practice, he should support to perform the insolvency services, such as, bankruptcies and liquidations.

Cost engineering Services

The quantity surveyor should ensure that continuous, accurate cost information, analysis, Cost reporting, and Cost planning, Cost control, Cost Checking and cost influences are reported to the client & design team. The quantity surveyor should include all costs in the cost plan or estimate of final cost. The cost planner should have a clear understanding of cost and budget targets to enable him to advise the developer about possible future over-runs and pro-actively to provide alternative solutions (Ferry and Brandon, 1991: 9).

Sub contract administration

Quantity Surveyor should have ability to select, control and mange them review the progress of subcontracts and keeps senior management up to date.

Technical management

Apply all techniques for check the final bill with contract bills, examine the records available, discuses aspects with relevant staff, and examine the procedure used.

Project management

Presently quantity surveyor significantly involve with project management service since cost factor is vital important facts for quality, Time and Cost manage.

Facilities management

This is the new field for quantity surveyor, involves for all building management services.

Advice on contractual disputes

Quantity surveyor should give advice always to the client to minimize contract dispute according his special knowledge of contract conditions.

Employers’ agent

Quantity surveyor should act as client agent according to the RICS professional regulation and consumer protection guide 2000.

Contract Procurement methods and process

Since reason days construction industry use managing contract, Design build contract, Construction management and Build operate and transfer contract procurement methods for the contract process. Hence as modern practice of Quantity surveyors role has to change their traditional role with thorough knowledge of this methods and process.

What are the important influence factors that changed role?

The future development of quantity surveying services is likely to be influenced by the following important factors: (Source: Powell 1998)

Client focus;

Construction cost is very important component for client to build his project within allocated budget, including whole life costs, hence Quantity surveyor role would be changed based on project cost to archive the client aspire.

Information and communication technologies;

The Quantity Surveyor should continuously touch in field of IT developing and applying them day to day works. Upgrading knowledge such as; cad application, spreadsheet application, management application, valuation, drawings, financial application, etc. as well, Information technology applies not only to using computers for their work but also in terms of communicating with the outside world through the internet and the electronic exchange of information amongst the team and the different professions involved.

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Somerville and Craig (2003) have clearly shown that cost savings are achieved when moving from a paper-based system to an electronic document management system. However under communication, Quantity surveyor should improve communication skill based on the personal qualities included, as example: Independency, Adaptability, Initiative taking, A willingness to learn An ability to reflect on what has and what has not been achieved.

Research and its distribution;

A research on past work in the field will help to establish or confirm facts, repeat the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support premise, or develop new theories.

Graduate capability;

According to the RICS publication, it examined the needs of quantity surveyors education, training and continuing professional development are an important component on all undergraduate and postgraduate courses. It is essential facts to continue to develop if it wished to maintain its role within the construction industry.

Special they identified requirement of to be developed areas such as; Construction technology, Measurement rules and conventions, Construction economics, Financial management, Business administration, Management, Documentation, Analysis, Appraisal, Quantification, Communication. (‘The Future Role of the Quantity Surveyor, RICS 1971’)

Practice size;

Quantity surveyors have work experience in multi-disciplinary practice for many years. Davies, writing in RICS Business (2006), refers to quantity surveyors now being the key advisers on construction and development strategies, but that they must continue to reinvent themselves to remain in this position. The QS practices that survived then looked overseas, especially to the boom in the Middle East and at the same time began extending their services.

Complete understanding of the procurement process;

The Quantity Surveyor should have very clear understood concerning selected procurement methods to avoid dispute during the implementing stage arise from stakeholders due to discrepancies in procurement systems.

Wide-ranging on mechanical and electrical installations;

Generally in the world, daily meet new technology into MEP field of construction industry, hence it directly influences to change the traditional role of quantity surveying practice.

Effective change management;

Change management involves integrating and transforming behaviors, attitudes and actions to support organizational sustainability. The most effective change management techniques involve proactive communication with all stakeholders.

Why required to change as Modern Quantity Surveyor

The quantity surveyor should understand the challenges and opportunities presented by the needs of clients in relation to cost, contracts, communication and claims and perhaps focus their development on the important links between these functions. As well as, the future direction of quantity surveying will be influenced by industrialization, structural transformation of economies, information technology breakthroughs and increased globalization of construction markets.

Requirement of a deliver a new range of added value services to clients, based upon increased client focus and a greater understanding of the function of built assets including, why new buildings are commissioned. Also many clients who operate in highly competitive global markets, base their procurement strategies on the degree of added value that can be demonstrated by a particular strategy.

In order to meet these criteria quantity surveyors must ‘get inside the head’ of their clients, fully appreciate their business objectives and find new ways to deliver value and thereby conversely remove waste from the procurement and construction process.

Cost Management:

The quantity surveyor should be able to utilize all the methods, tools and techniques to best effect and to the advantage of the project as a whole.


Quantity surveyors should be able to analyze the client’s needs as well as the designer’s approach and the environmental influence when suggesting alternative procurement methods. Quality contract documentation remains a non-negotiable part of future services. Although many new methods may be used in the future, the quantity surveyor should continuously ensure that contractual expertise remains part of the service provided.


This is an area where the quantity surveyor may need development, but effective communication with all role players will be a major part of future day-to- day activities. One has to note the importance of communication aimed at achieving results as one negotiates for client – and also contractor-satisfaction in an industry which is known for its claims, disputes and conflict.

Claims and disputes:

The quantity surveyor must know, understand and be able to advise, use and apply claims-adjudication and dispute-resolution methods. This is an area of growth because an effective dispute-resolution process will enable the parties and all role players to spend more time, money and energy on the project.

Ethic & Value of a Quantity Surveyor

RICS has introduce significant ethics for all quantity surveyors and professionals Such as; Act with integrity, Always be honest, Be open and transparent, Be accountable, Act within your limitations, Be objective at all times, Always treat others with respect, Have the courage to make a stand.


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