QUANTITY SURVEYING/COST CONTROL

What is Quantity surveying?

The Quantity Surveyor is a specialist professional whose training and experience
are directed towards the planning and control of expenditure on construction of
all kinds.

The Quantity Surveyor together with the Project Manager is a key member of
the development and construction team - the essential link between the client
who commissions the building, the specialists who design it, and the contractor
who builds it. He is the expert on construction costs and communications, and
his services are used from the inception of a project to its completion.


A Service to Clients

The services which a Quantity Surveyor would normally provide to a client are:

· Preliminary cost advice and cost planning
· Advice on procurement route and type of contract
· Advice on obtaining tenders
· Preparation of tendering documents
· Negotiation with contractors
· Cost control and preparation of financial statements
· Valuation of work in progress
· Settlement of the final costs with the contractor and sub-contractors.

A brief description of these stages follow:


Cost Advice

Preliminary cost advice is given by the Quantity Surveyor at the very outset of
a scheme, even before the designers drawings are prepared. He indicates the
probable region of cost of a proposed project or he may assess the type and size
of structure that can be erected for any given expenditure. Armed with this
information and with estimates of maintenance and the running costs, the
Quantity Surveyor assists his client in the preparation of the budget for the project.
Once the preliminary drawings have been prepared, he prepares a more detailed
approximate estimate and this cost advice enables design decisions to be made
with full knowledge of their financial implications to the client.

Cost Planning

The Quantity Surveyor has evolved a technique known as cost planning which
enables his cost advice to be used objectively during the design process of every
aspect or element of the structure. After initial feasibility studies and
preliminary estimates have been prepared, the Quantity Surveyor prepares the
cost plan from the designers preliminary drawings. The cost plan divides a
building into its various functional elements and allocates costs to these
elements. In this way it is possible to ensure a proper apportionment of
expenditure over the various elements and the establishment of a cost
framework at an early stage of the Project. Proposals of alternative materials and
designs are costed as the design progressed and the cost implications are
presented to the client and other consultations are made with a knowledge of the
overall cost involved.

Tendering Documents

The most usual forms of contract in construction works are based on the use of
Bills of Quantities as Contracts documents.
Bills of Quantities are the translation of the designer's drawings and
specification into words and quantities. They enable each contractor tendering
to estimate his price on exactly the same basis as his competitors.
The bills are later used during the construction of a project to provide a basis
for the financial management of the contract and in particular to control the cost of
changes.

Obtaining Tenders

Tenders for constructional work may be obtained either in competition or by
negotiation. Choice of the most suitable procedure is one of the most important
decisions to be taken at an early stage and one of the matters on which the
Quantity Surveyors advice is most valuable. He can advise on the selection of
suitable firms to be invited to tender, according to the type and size of a job and
the general standard of workmanship and skill that may be required. When
tenders have been obtained the Quantity Surveyor checks them to see that no
substantial errors have been made, ensuring that no contract is entered into on
the basis of a seriously incorrect quotation. He then submits a detailed report on
the tenders to the client.

Cost Control

Where a full cost plan has been prepared in the design stages the Quantity
Surveyor will use it as basis for cost control during the design process.
During construction, changes in the work are often necessary; sometimes to take
account of the client's changing needs, sometimes to overcome site conditions
which could not be foreseen. The Quantity Surveyor estimates the cost of
proposed changes and reports their impact on the probable final cost, so that
corrective steps may be taken elsewhere in the work, if the client requires, to
keep the cost within the budget.

As part of systematic control of the cost during the progress of the work, the
Quantity Surveyor will prepare, at monthly intervals, financial reports which
keep client and designers fully informed of up-to-date financial position and the
anticipated final cost of the work.

Valuation of the Work in Progress

Under most forms of building or civil engineering contract, the contractor is
paid each month for the work he has done during the preceding month. It is the
Quantity Surveyor's duty to measure and value the work carried out during the
period in question, together with the value of any changes which may have been
authorised, and to submit to the Project Manager a recommendation regarding a
payment on account. If the Project Manager is satisfied that he work involved
has been carried out in accordance with the terms of the contract, he will certify
the amount due to the contractor in accordance with the Quantity Surveyor's valuation.


The Final Account

The Quantity Surveyor's duties end with the calculation of the final cost. This is
achieved by preparing a final account for the work in which the contract sum is
adjusted to take account of any changes, and of any other matters for which the contract
allows.The final account is agreed with the contractor and provides a fair and equitable settlement
in accordance with the contract conditions.The Quantity Surveyor will also prepare analysis oft
the final account whichthe client may require.

Back to top