A quantity surveyor (or simply QS) is a professional who forms an integral part of any construction project. This role has traditionally been performed by highly trained individuals with extensive knowledge of construction management. A quantity surveyor usually doubles up as an independent contractor and is normally trusted for professional consultation. The role played by a quantity surveyor is vital to the construction and project life cycle as enumerated below.
Construction Project Life Cycle
The quantity surveyor has vital input at every stage of the project life cycle. The professional is involved right from the initial planning stages to the completion of the project. Budgetary, engineering and legal issues are all managed the QS.
The planning stages are vital to any construction. Errors in the planning stage usually lead to huge costs later in the project life cycle. It is there before important to engage the services of a QS at the planning stage. The quantity surveyor begins by analyzing the liability of the project from an economic perspective. Close coordination with other professionals such as engineers and architects is usually requisite. The QS has knowledge in building codes, by laws and procedures which is critical during the planning stage. An assessment of the liability of the project from an engineering standpoint is also transported out by the QS.
Once the project commences and all teams are on-site, the quantity surveyor plays a key role in ensuring the process moves along smoothly and does not exceed budget limits. Sometimes there may be disputes among the team members such as between engineers and architects. In such an event, the QS usually becomes the tie point to clarify requirements to the team members.
Once the project is completed, the functions and responsibilities of the quantity surveyor change. The focus now turns to monitoring the completed project to ensure that all operational costs are kept within the budget. The QS must also ensure that the project adheres to tax laws. In addition, the quantity surveyor must ensure that adequate insurance arrangements are in place to protect against the risk of loss from various perils. In the event of a claim during this time, the QS must deal with the issue of replacement costs by providing accurate damage estimates.
In addition to the roles laid out above, the QS has other responsibilities as well, these include:
• Providing estimates of cost effective purchase plans
• Organizing tender documentation and putting together purchase reports which are vital in controlling spending during a project
• Carrying out procurement research to determine the best and cheapest sources of building materials
• Deciding on the best balance between cost and quality
• Drafting of safety codes and regulations
Clearly, a quantity surveyor has a vital role to play in any construction project. Engaging the services of a competent professional ensures the project runs smoothly by adhering to legal requirements, economic constitutions and established structural practices.