Quantity Survey & Structural Design



So You Want to Be a Quantity Surveyor

So, what exactly does a Quantity Surveyor (QS) do?In layman’s terms, quantity surveying is about estimating the cost of buildings. Basically, a QS forecasts how much a building will cost based on the architect’s and structural engineer’s designs.Normally what happens in a construction project is the architect prepares drawings in conjunction with the structural engineer, mechanical and electrical engineers. These drawings are forwarded to the quantity surveyor who then prepares a cost breakdown of the project. To do this, the QS has to break down the building into elements that can be quantified and later priced. This process is called taking off.Once the estimates are ready, they are presented to the client who is able to determine whether their budget can cover the forecast cost. If the estimate is higher than the budget, the client may have to downsize. It is strongly recommended that this process of downsizing should be done under the guidance of the consultants in the design team. For this reason, architects have been killed dreamers – while the quantity surveyors are the dream-killers… I digress.If the client is comfortable with the budget, tenderers – in this case contractors – are invited to bid for the job based on three main things: the bills of quantities prepared by the project QS, the architect’s and engineer’s drawings. After the tender documents are returned, the project QS will then analyse them and prepare a tender evaluation reportadvising the client on the most suitable tenderer. This then paves way for signing of the contract between the successful contractor and the client and, eventually, the onset of actual construction.During the course of the project, the QS is normally responsible for carrying out the valuation of work done. These valuations form the basis of payments to be made to the contractor periodically against the actual work done. At the end of the project, the QS will prepare a final account which is a summary of all the work done and how much it actually cost. This is compared with the estimate to determine whether any savings or losses were made.

Other roles of the QS include contract administration, giving financial advice to the client and advising the client on construction costs. There are also other emerging roles of the QS in the construction industry. So, in a nutshell, that’s what I do.


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