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The modern quantity surveyor


The services provided by the modern quantity surveyor now cover all aspects of project cost management and procurement. Whilst the importance of this expanded role cannot be emphasised enough, success in carrying it out stems from the traditional ability of the quantity surveyor to measure and value.

Method of analysing cost


By making a schedule setting out the quantity of each type of work in recognised units of measurement, the estimated prices can be built up for the labour and material involved in each unit. This schedule is the bill of quantities, the prices in which can be added up to arrive at a total sum.

Origin of the independent quantity surveyor

Competitive tendering is one of the principles of most classes of business, and if competitors are given comprehensive details of the requirements it should be fair to all concerned. They realised that by getting together and employing one person to make these calculations and measurements for them all, a considerable saving would be made in their overhead charges. Each competing builder was provided with a bill of quantities which could then be priced in a comparatively short space of time. The employer was paying indirectly for the quantity surveyor through the builder, whereas the surveyor could be used as consultant if a direct appointment was made. The quantity surveyor began to get the authority of the employer being trusted by both sides, attained the independent position, which is normally held after the signing of the contract, to value and measure work in progress and to measure and value variations to the original design.

Essentials of a good quantity surveyor

An ability to describe clearly, fully and precisely the requirements of the designers and arrange the bill of quantities so that the contractors estimator can quickly, easily and accurately arrive at the estimated cost of the work is essential. The surveyor must be careful and accurate in making calculations, have a systematic and orderly mind and be able to visualise the drawings and details. Cost advice requires a detailed knowledge of contractors prices, experience of the construction process and an ability to foresee the likely effect of economic trends. Dealing with contracts requires a certain amount of legal knowledge particularly the law of contract.

Quantities as part of the contract


The bill of quantities usually forms one of the contract documents, the contract providing that the quantity of work comprised in the contract shall be that set out in the bill of quantities. The contractor is expected to carry out and the employer to pay for neither more nor less than the quantities given, an arrangement that is fair to both parties. It will be seen how important accuracy is in the preparation of the bill. If the bill of quantities is not part of the contract, when a contractor prepares a tender from drawings and specification, the risk of errors in the quantities is taken by the contractor.

Standard Method of Measurement (SMM)

The SMM is a document that provides not only a uniform basis for measuring building work but also embodies the essentials of good practice. All bills of quantities are prepared in accordance with these rules then all parties concerned are aware of what is included and what is to be assumed. Without the use of such a set of rules the quality of bills of quantities can vary widely. The code of Measurement Practice is a companion volume which clarifies and explains the rules contained in the SMM.