Quantity Surveyor (QS) is a very versatile professional who works in the construction industry due to his ability to perform many roles related to a construction project. From construction measurement to contract administration or arbitration, there are many roles there can be played by a Quantity Surveyor. Many writers have described in many ways about the role of Quantity Surveyor. They have done several categorizations on listing the role of Quantity Surveyor.
Main Categories in Role of Quantity Surveyor
Through the literature survey as I found the role of the Quantity Surveyor can be mainly categorized into two as,
- Traditional Role
- Evolved Role
The traditional role of Quantity Surveyor is primarily based on the practices related to measurements and valuations (estimations). This traditional role of the Quantity Surveyor again can be classified Consultant – Contractor and Pre-contract – Post-contract likewise. Subsequently, the quantity surveyor would produce bills of quantities for tendering purposes, and the work would be measured for progress payments and a final account prepared on the basis of the tender documentation. The process was mostly reactive but necessary and important. According to the traditional role, the role of the Quantity Surveyor just limited to the Construction and Consultant organizations and practices. The traditional role of Quantity Surveyor as identified by Ashworth & Hogg as follows,
- Single rate approximate estimate
- Cost planning
- Procurement advice
- Measurements and quantifications
- Document preparation, especially bills of quantities
- Cost control during construction
- Interim valuations and payments
- Financial statements
- Final account preparation and agreement
- Settlement of contractual claims
Single Rate Approximate Estimate
In the initial stage of the project, the quantity surveyor has to prepare a preliminary estimate based on the Client’s brief. The preliminary estimate is more important to design the project within the available budget in a controlled manner. There are two preliminary estimating techniques such as,
- Single rate approximate estimate
- Multiple-rate approximate estimate
Cost planning is a specialist task of the quantity surveyor. It needs to help all the members of the design team to achieve practical and efficient designs for the project and to be them within the client’s budget.
Effective cost planning will guarantee that, once a realistic estimate is agreed, everything that follows is in accordance with it, from the successful contractor’s bid (tender) to the final project cost. If the client decides to change his plans and introduce variations, then the quantity surveyor has to calculate the cost commitments of those variations. Cost planning grabs improved economy standards and better value for money. Constant monitoring of the cost planning will reduce the risk of overspending at an initial stage. Therefore, the client or management can take corrective actions early. In conclusion, Cost planning at the design stage to ensure that the client gets the best value for his money.
Procurement is defined as the process from the completion of design to the successful handover of the building. It is also the contractual and financial arrangements between the parties. There are many procurement methods in the construction industry. For example, the traditional method – design by employer, Design & build, management contracts, construction management, design and manage, etc.
The quantity surveyor in the design team has to advise the client on the most appropriate procurement path based on the main project parameters.
- Time (Speed of construction)
- Cost (Financial aspects, Apportionment of risk and price certainty)
- Quality (Quality of building, Type of project, Design, Alternative materials)
Measurements and Quantifications
as previously discussed, The traditional role of Quantity Surveyor is taking off the quantities according to the standard method of measurement (SMM) and preparing measurement sheets or TDS sheets.
The most commonly used standard methods of measurement for building works are NRM2 (New Rules of Measurement – consists of three volumes), SMM7, POMI, SLS573 (in Sri Lanka). CESMM4 (The Civil Engineering Standard Method of Measurement) is widely used for civil engineering works.
Document Preparation, Especially Bills of Quantities
Within the Quantity Surveying practice, a Quantity Surveyor supposes to prepare several documents to regard to a contract. The main document out of them needed for a contract is the BOQ. A BOQ, which has been prepared professionally and into the standards, will be a valuable tool in cost control and management aspects. The preparation of a tender document is also a major task of a Quantity Surveyor. For the preparation of tender document there, he has to do many other documentation works including BOQ, Conditions of contract, Preambles to schedules of prices, etc.
Cost Control During Construction
Post-contract cost control is the “Real-time” cost controlling during the construction stage. It helps to ensure the final accounts also falls within the budget.
In modern practice, Quantity Surveyors are seeking to take a more PM-active role in the management of costs rather than simply reporting on the costs of design proposals. Indeed, the more strict time and cost-constrained clients are appointing quantity surveyors as lead consultants, thereby allowing cost planning to drive design and enabling good cost management principles to be implemented. However, Quantity surveyors are still experiencing difficulty in being appointed early enough so as to play a decisive role during the early stages of a project. Cost control and advice services are also seen as the leading QS service with the potential for growth.
Interim Valuations and Payments
The contractor’s Quantity surveyor will prepare the Interim Payment Application (IPA) / monthly statements, and the consultant Quantity surveyor (Client’s QS) is responsible for checking the IPA and issuing the interim payment certificate (IPC) within the allocated time in the agreed Contract. If there is no issue, the Employer (Client) should realize the payments to the Contractor as soon as possible.
Within the scope of the work of a Quantity Surveyor, he has to prepare several financial statements related to the project. As Seeley (1997) mentioned, there are many financial statements that could be made by a Quantity Surveyor as follows, Statement of expenditure, variation accounts, day work accounts, etc.
Final Account Preparation and Agreement
It is a vital role of the contractor Quantity Surveyor to prepare the final account of the project and to be getting agreed with the consultant. In the process of preparation of final accounts there he should be smart enough to incorporate all the day works, variation in the bills if not included in interim statements.
Final accounts may contain the following :
- Contract Sum
- Omission of Contingencies
- Adjustment of Engineer’s Instructions to vary the work
- Adjustment of Prime Cost Sums and Provisional Sums
- Re-measured work
- Direct Loss and Expense
- Adjustment of Insurance Premiums
- Correction of Bill Errors
- Adjustment of Profit
- Percentage adjustment
- Adjustment for Direct Payments.
- Main Summary
Final Accounts will not include :
- Liquidated and Ascertained Damages which are at the discretion of the Client.
- The VAT – It is a separate matter between the Contractor and the Employer outside of the Contract.
Settlement of Contractual Claims
“The term ‘claim’ as used in the context is a request by the contractor for recompense for some loss or expense that he has suffered, or an attempt to avoid the requirement to pay liquidated and ascertained damages.” (Seeley 1984 cited Niza et al 2006, p.55).
With in the construction process, the process will be interrupted due to many reasons like weather and climate conditions, technical problems, economic and political issues, etc. nobody wants to question how the construction gets interrupted. When there is an interruption, it gives rise to a claim. To be in success, a claim should be prepared according to the contractual clauses, records, and proper evidence. Therefore the claims management has become an important role of the Quantity Surveyor in the construction industry.