What is a Quantity Surveyor?
A Quantity Surveyor, also known as a Cost Engineer, is a construction economist in a team of professional built- environment professional consultants and has the function of co-ordinating the cost of construction projects. He or she scientifically plans, evaluates, and controls expenditure on construction projects of all types. A Quantity Surveyor may be consulted about a proposed project before it is planned, in which case, he determines its commercial viability and prepares a report stating his findings and recommendations. If it is a commercial project, for example, a shopping centre which is influenced by a good return on investment, then the Quantity Surveyor’s report is critical on the decision whether to carry out the project or not. The report does not carry the same weight with non-commercial projects, for example schools, houses and other community-oriented projects.
If a Quantity Surveyor is appointed at the same time as an Architect when a project is envisaged, he acts in an advisory capacity during the planning stages of the project. Not only does he give advice concerning the cost problems during the design stages of the project, but he is also able to prepare cost estimates a various stage of the planning. The project is thus kept within the financial constraints stipulated by the client.
The client may consult a Quantity Surveyor after the Architect has drawn up the sketch plans. The Quantity Surveyor then works out a cost estimate from such sketch plans. Should the cost estimates be too high, then the Architect is required to modify his sketches or draw up new ones until the costs are lowered to fall within the client’s financial budget.
The Quantity Surveyor then produces a document known as the Bills of Quantities, which is compiled by means of scientific surveys encompassing such software tools as WinQS and others, and consists of the documentation of materials, labour and plant required for the construction of the project. These quantities are produced from the detailed drawings drawn by the Architect. Copies of the Bills of Quantities are then distributed to construction companies for bidding or tendering purposes. The accepted tenderer, usually the lowest but not necessarily the one who presents the lowest price, is then required to submit a fully priced Bills of Quantities to the Quantity Surveyor for checking. If the Quantity Surveyor finds the document to be in order, he recommends for the signing of the contract. The successful tenderer, who then becomes the appointed contractor proceeds with the erection of the project. It is the Quantity Surveyor’s duty to assess the monthly payments to the contractor until the final account is drawn at the end of the contract.