Who is a QS?
A Quantity Surveyor is a professional who is connected to the field of construction, and whose main task is to manage the costs of a construction project by ensuring that the construction project is completed within its projected budget. Apart from that, they have the responsibility of handling of the contractual matters of the project. “Cost consultant”, “Commercial manager”, “Construction Economists”, “Cost manager” and “Cost Engineer”, are similar other job titles for quantity surveyors.
The origin of this profession is considered to be happened in 1785 in England as a profession in the construction industry and it arrived Sri Lanka in early 1930’s through Colonialism.
A Quantity Surveyor plays an important role in the construction industry to manage and control costs on civil and infrastructure construction projects from the feasibility stage of a project through to the completion of the construction period.
Further, even after the completion of the construction projects they may be involved with tax depreciation schedules, replacement cost estimation for insurance purposes and, if necessary, mediation and arbitration which unfold the wide scope of their job role.
scope of work
The arena of Quantity surveying is wide. They work on diverse projects ranging from office blocks, public buildings like schools, hospitals, factories, bridges, highways, shipbuilding and large process engineering works such as oil refineries. Basically, anywhere a major construction work is carried out.
As a member of Professional cost consultant team of the project, Quantity Surveyors work on behalf of the Owners or Contractors and also closely work with all the other stakeholders in the construction industry such as Architects, Financiers, Engineers, Suppliers, Accountants, Insurance Companies, Lawyers and Courts and with all levels of Government authorities.
In addition to new projects, Quantity Surveyors also use their skills in refurbishment or reconstruction of old buildings, alterations to existing buildings and insurance replacement estimates.
Duties and Responsibilities of a QS:
When looking over on the duties and responsibilities of a Quantity Surveyor, they can be put in to different categories based on their responsibilities. One category is Pre- contract QS where he is only responsible in the tender process while the other is Post- Contract QS who is responsible for controlling the project costs.
However, the utmost responsibility of Quantity Surveyors is to manage all the contractual and financial sides of construction projects.
Quantity Surveyors who work for consultancies are office based and work in office hours, in temporary offices at construction sites and go in and out of sites.Their tasks depend on the stage of the project they are employed.
Some of the main duties and responsibilities of a QS are:
- Analyzing terms and conditions in the contract.
- Predicting potential risks in the project and taking precautions to mitigate such.
- Forecasting the costs of different materials needed for the project.
- Prepare tender documents, contracts, budgets and other documentation.
- Track changes and adjusting budget accordingly.
- Paying and dealing with subcontractors.
- Measure and value work done on site.
- At feasibility stage, advising the owners on most economical ways of achieving the goals.
- During design, the Quantity Surveyor should ensures that the design remains on budget through cost management.
- During construction, fairly valuing progress payments at regular intervals.
- When construction is completed, producing depreciation schedules of the various project components and advise on realistic insurance replacement costs.
- In the case of construction disputes the quantity surveyor is often called on as an expert witness, and some Quantity Surveyors act as Arbitrators.
Skills required by a QS
Quantity Surveyors have to use a wide range of management procedures. Therefore they should possess a good analytical mind set to take crucial and orderly decisions. Also, some decisions involving large sums of money are often made using information produced by them. Thus, they must be accurate in all aspects of their work. Further, they should be enthusiastic and prepared to work in very rigid time schedules.
Some of the Key Skills of a QS are:
- excellent numeracy skills
- computer literacy, specially in MS Excel and some specialized software.
- Analytical and logical thinking skills.
- Relationship building and interpersonal skills.
- Ability to negotiate.
- Attentive and methodical approach to work.
Wide- ranging opportunities for Quantity Surveyors can be find around the world in both private and public sectors. Job opportunities starting in the private sector with consulting firms, construction companies to the public sector involves mainly with the State Government Departments / Authorities, and increasingly with Building Contractors, Financiers, Property Developers, Project Managers and Universities. Conclusively, if you have practical industry experience with your diploma/ degree, there are good employment opportunities for skilled Quantity Surveyor graduates, across the construction sector.