Quantity Surveying

Who actually needs a Quantity Surveyor?


This post is taken from William Lloyd’s LinkedIn post here.

What is a QS?

A Quantity Surveyor(now often referred to as a Cost Consultant) is generally seen as an “add on” to a construction project. You need planning drawings, you need structural drawings, you might need party wall services but you don’t “need” a Quantity Surveyor.

Though this is factually correct, projects over a certain size and complexity (for arguments sake lets say £200k) can and should benefit from the services of a Quantity Surveyor.

This post is a very brief overview which will be filled out in the coming weeks.

How can they help me?

A Quantity Surveyor will guide the design team towards a design that is affordable before selecting the most suitable method of appointing a contractor. During the project they will negotiate with the contractor and assess when and how much money is due.

A QS will ensure that you are never unnecessarily exposed to financial risk through the project and have the financial conversations with both the designer and contractor on your behalf.

QS’s often make excellent project managers as there is a lot of overlap between the two roles.

When would I need one?

A Quantity Surveyor can be employed from the outset of the project and works with the designer in producing a layout and specification which will be within the financial means of the client.

A QS will advise on the most suitable procurement process (how a builder is selected) and what contract would best protect the client. A QS is a partner to the designer, helping steer the project in a direction that is feasible.

How can they save me money?

One of the overriding purposes of a Quantity Surveyor is ensure that the client gets Value for Money. This could be saving money or making sure that none is unnecessarily spent.

Before the Project Starts

This is achieved by using their knowledge and experience to ensure that the client doesn’t overpay for their construction project. There are various ways of doing this which will be described in a later post but might include writing a schedule of works (a list of tasks required to build the project with quantities for pricing), negotiating a cost plan with a contractor or using a pro-active approach to assess a Design and Build proposition.

During the Project

Quantity Surveyors carry out a variety of tasks through the build stage of a project, the most important of which are: Valuations (assessments of what payment the builder is due), Cost Reports (an assessment of what the project will cost at completion at monthly intervals) and the Final Account Negotiations (negotiating costs for variations to the original project to come to a final agreed figure).

When the Quantity Surveyor has been included from the outset, all negotiations are based on the competitive rates used at the Tender Stage which ensured that the “suck air through the teeth” method of costing variations is avoided entirely. There should be no nasty surprises! It is this part of the process in which the Quantity Surveyor really earns their money.

So.. Who actually needs one?

The short answer is anyone who would like to ensure that they get value for money in their project and who would not like to concern themselves with the nitty-gritty of financial conversations during their project. The overall benefit of having this weight off of your shoulders is worth the cost of the service.

What would I expect to pay for this service?

This very much depends on the type of project, but fees are generally in the 1.8% to 3.5% range depending on the type, complexity and value of the project. Often using your QS as a Project Manager will be much more affordable than using a separate person for each role.

Where can I find one?

Well (shameless plug)…. here White & Lloyd or on the RICS list of registered firms.