Stuart Binnie, associate director at Rund, a specialist surveying and construction consultancy, offers some guidance on how quantity surveyors can help ensure that proposed projects are affordable and offer good value for money. With the markets more tumultuous than ever, managing budgets in large-scale construction projects is all the more critical.
What value do quantity surveyors provide?
The role of a quantity surveyor is centred on maintaining real-time cost information on any given project on behalf of our clients and safeguarding and representing our client’s best interests in any cost-related discussion. The role also extends to identifying risks, thinking ahead to anticipate any potential problems in the project lifecycle. Should any issues arise, a quantity surveyor can quickly find the most cost-effective solution, liaising with the client as to where changes can be made to the overall project to minimise the impact on budget and timeline.
Quantity surveyors also ensure projects meet all legal and quality standards during construction and completion. They are experts in minimising risk by undertaking cost analysis for repair and maintenance, identifying responses to commercial liabilities, and assisting other parties in meeting health and safety requirements.
Advances in technology support have helped build teams to benchmark costs and undergo scenario testing, but this information alone isn’t enough to safeguard a project and the interests of all stakeholders. Quantity surveyors are needed to understand how to interpret the figures by providing an experienced oversight of the data. They have the skill to take the data and apply it to differing situations, using their experience and knowledge of the construction industry to ensure the timely completion and success of projects. It’s these contributions that are invaluable to a project.
Who benefits from appointing a quantity surveyor on a project?
Well-trained quantity surveyors improve the construction process for everyone involved in the project. One of the main reasons for hiring a quantity surveyor is to ensure value for money, which benefits the developer and the investors and all other specialist teams. In the short term, this can involve selecting contractors that meet the right requirements for the project, or overseeing costs for materials used. As well as this, quantity surveyors also work closely with architects and design firms to ensure the feasibility of their plans, and finance teams by offering advice on property taxation.
Over longer periods, actions made by a quantity surveyor can benefit the environment and the end user.
Why are quantity surveyors more important than ever?
The current economic uncertainty and global political pressures are having a serious and challenging impact on the construction and built environment sector. There is less capital to invest in the budgets of construction projects, along with the eye-watering rises in the cost of materials. Government data shows that material costs alone have risen by 23% in 2021. Quantity surveyors have the knowledge and skill to ensure the most affordable materials are used – without compromising on quality. They are also best placed to negotiate deals with contractors to consistently provide the best value for money, helping to alleviate additional pressures in these unprecedented times.
Another issue that has become increasingly urgent in construction is sustainability. Many sustainable construction practices are now a benchmark, and developers that do not make an active effort to reduce the carbon impact of their buildings are being left in the dust. Quantity surveyors can play a crucial role in improving the sustainability credentials of a project by advising on sourcing sustainable materials and suppliers.
What type of qualifications do quantity surveyors have?
Quantity surveyors come from an incredibly diverse selection of educational backgrounds. For their undergraduate degree, quantity surveyors have the option to complete a RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) accredited degree in Quantity Surveying or Commercial Management. Other increasingly popular options are to undertake part-time study to qualify as a quantity surveyor while working, or to take an advanced surveying technician apprenticeship.
However, quantity surveyors can also come from educational backgrounds as diverse as civil engineering, geography, economics, urban studies or mathematics. After completing a degree in one of these subjects, those interested in becoming a quantity surveyor can apply for a RICS-accredited postgraduate conversion course, typically lasting a year. Some employers are also now choosing to hire graduates as ‘non-cognates’ to fund them through their postgraduate studies.
What other services can a quantity surveyor provide?
Quantity surveyors, being highly trained and experienced figures within a construction project, are extremely multi-faceted professionals, and can provide a number of additional services to assist in the project’s completion. For example, a Quantity Surveyor can undertake the Employer’s Agent role. Employer’s Agents act on behalf of the client as a contract administrator, meaning they issue instructions to contractors, approve parts of the project on behalf of the client, and agree on the final account once the project is complete. They are an essential contact point between the developer and contractors, maintaining clear communication between both parties and reducing the amount of micromanaging involved for the developer. Quantity surveyors are ideally suited to fulfil this role, as they are already involved across all aspects of the project, and are required to inspect in detail all construction work. Therefore, they are ideally placed to ensure all building work is completed in line with the employer’s vision.
Source: Inside Media