Quantity Surveyor (QS) is a very resourceful and high skilled construction professional who works in the construction sector due to having his vast range of capability in working in many roles related to a construction project. He also can play as a Contract Administrator, Contract Manager, Commercial Manager, Project Manager, and Arbitrator. Many authors have written in different ways about the role of Quantity Surveyor.
Main Categories in Role of Quantity Surveyor
As I have found, Quantity Surveyor’s role in the literature survey can be divided into two main categories.
- 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 prepare bills of quantities, interim payments, and final accounts. The process was mostly reactive but necessary and important.
According to the traditional role, the role of quantity surveyor just limited to the Construction and Consultant organizations and practices. The traditional role of quantity surveyor as identified by some authors as follows,
- Preparation of single rate approximate estimate
- Prepare Cost planning
- Procurement advice
- Measurements and quantifications
- Document preparation, especially bills of quantities
- Cost control during construction
- Prepare Interim valuations and payments
- Prepare financial statements
- Final account preparation and agreement
- Settlement of contractual claims
Single Rate Approximate Estimate
In the initial stage of the project, the Role of Quantity Surveyor is to prepare a Single Rate Approximate Estimate/preliminary estimate according to primary details provided by the client and designer. This preliminary estimate is very important for project planning within the client budget. There are two preliminary estimating techniques such as,
- Single rate approximate estimate
- Multiple-rate approximate estimate
Cost planning is a specialist task in the role of Quantity Surveyor. Aim of cost planning is 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 ensures that after agreeing on a realistic estimate, everything that follows is consistent, from the successful contractor’s bid to the final cost of the project. If the client’s mind is to change his plans and introduce variations, then the quantity surveyor has to calculate the cost commitments of those variations.
The objective of cost planning is to give good value for money with improved economy standards. At the initial stage of the project, Constant monitoring of the cost planning will help us to reduce the risk of overspending. 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. Therefore, advising to select a procurement method is a very essential task in the role of Quantity Surveyor.
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 SMM – Standard Method of Measurement 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 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 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 in the role of Quantity Surveyor. For the preparation of tender documents 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 fall 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 among the role of Quantity Surveyor.
Interim Valuations and Payments
Interim valuations and payments are the essential tasks in the role of Quantity Surveyor.
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. There are many financial statements that could be made by a Quantity Surveyor such as, Statement of expenditure, variation accounts, day work accounts, etc.
Final Account Preparation and Agreement
It is a vital role of Quantity Surveyor (Contractor’s QS) to prepare the final account for the project & 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 has not included:
- Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LAD)
- The VAT – It is a separate matter between the contractor and the Employer outside of the Contract.
Settlement of Contractual Claims
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 managing is a vital role of Quantity Surveyor in the construction.
In the next article, we are going to discuss the evolved role of Quantity Surveyor.