What is a Quantity Surveyor in the Construction Industry?


So what is a Construction Quantity Surveyor?

A quantity surveyor is a professional working within the construction industry concerned with building costs. The profession is one that provides a qualification gained following formal education, specific training and experience that provide a general set of skills that are then applied to a diverse variety of problems. Predominantly these relate to costs and contracts on construction projects.

The professional institution with which most English-speaking quantity surveyors are affiliated is the UK-based Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). 

The Quantity Surveyor role usually involves reports to a Commercial Manager, Project Manager or Project Director and provides advice in the decision-making process throughout the management of a project from initial inception to final completion

The Quantity Surveyor handles estimating and cost control, the tendering process and, after contract award, the commercial interface. QS's should be able to carry out estimating and measurement of construction works prior to tender, producing the bill of quantities; produce tender documentation and manage the tender process; clarify and evaluate tenders; and manage the resultant contract through monthly valuations, variations control, contract administration and assessment of claims.

Some QS's are trained in techniques of cost control. Those QS's who emphasize the cost discipline often use the term "Cost Consultant". They ensure that projects are designed and constructed in such a manner as to secure value for money, cost certainty and programme dates.

quantity surveying

Others emphasize contracts management. Trained to draft, interpret and administer complex contracts, those QS's who operate in the broader field of project management often adopt other titles such as "Contracts manager" or "Construction surveyor".

Some QS’s specialize in project management and running multi-disciplinary projects, the QS background being a good foundation for understanding the complexities of modern large-scale projects.

As well as in professional quantity surveying practices, the QS finds employment in all parts of industry and government including primary and secondary industry, national and local government bodies and agencies, contractors and subcontractors, developers, and financial and legal companies.

Although all QS’s will have followed a similar course of education and training (for those entering the profession today, this is usually to degree level), there are many areas of specialization in which a QS may concentrate. The main distinction amongst QS’s is between those who carry out work on behalf of a client organisation, often known as a "professional quantity surveyor", and those who work for construction companies, often known as a "main contractor's quantity surveyor".

Quantity Surveying Facts

Did you know that as a profession, Quantity Surveying emerged around the 1820s and one of the earliest QSs was Sir Henry Arthur Hunt who was involved in work on the Houses of Parliament? After the fire that destroyed the old Palace of Westminster in 1834 Henry Hunt came up with an estimate cost of £724,984.

Did you also know that Nick McCabe best known for being the lead guitarist from The Verve began his career as a Quantity Surveyor?

Want to find out more about the role of Quantity Surveyor?

Check out our Quantity Surveyor job description, covering daily duties and activities, key skills, qualifications, average salaries and more!

Looking for quantity surveyor jobs? 

View all our latest Assistant Quantity Surveyor Jobs, Quantity Surveyor Jobs and Senior Quantity Surveyor jobs.



Steve Gore on 26 October 2012 said:

Hi Matt. I’ve sent you some information that should help point you in the right dircetion. Hope it helps.

Matt Dyke on 24 October 2012 said:

I’m completing a Quantity Surveying & Commercial Management course at University. One of the assessments I have chosen is subcontractor management. Can you tell me any good books, articles or textbooks I could refer to and use?

Bill Wynn on 01 August 2012 said:

Cheers.  If we can assist you or any other quantity surveyors you know we’d be happy to help.  Our current quantity surveying and commercial management jobs in the UK can be seen here.  We’ll be in Perth, Australia from 2013.

quantity surveyor brisbane on 01 August 2012 said:

Awesome post…thanks for the info…quantity surveyor’s duties are highly responsible and prestigious towards developing a building..

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