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In all of surveying, construction and quantity surveyors (QSs) are some of the first to fully appreciate the planned project and amongst the few who will decide whether a project is feasible, fundable and functional. In all cases, construction and quantity surveyors may work commercially: shops; offices; warehouses; residential; agricultural; or leisure, or in infrastructure: roads; railways; airports; and waterways.
Involvement will commence early on in a project and will continue until a building is completed, on the market for sale, to let if commercial, or in use if it is infrastructure.
The primary role of a construction surveyor is to measure the land of current buildings in place and make recommendations to engineers, architects and contractors depending on findings. Some of this work will have already been done by land surveyors but construction surveyors must check this, along with a detailed history of the site or buildings. The developers will have a scheme in mind, however, surveyors must ensure that it can be fitted into the site, being both safe and economical so to avoid wastage of space.
From surveyors’ maps and drawings, architects will design a scheme, funders will invest the money, and contractors and engineers will build the finished product.
The ability to understand the entire process and to visualise what will be in place once the buildings are complete is essential. A strong mathematical brain, as well as the ability to draw accurate maps on computers, is fundamental.
For more information on the actual building processes and how to become involved please see construction.
Once the construction surveyor has spoken to architects and they have come up with a proposed scheme to place on the land, it is the job of a quantity surveyor to work out how much this will cost.
Remember, this is not only for a newly constructed building; costing could be used on refurbishment projects or buildings that need to be demolished.
QSs will undertake feasibility studies to see if the plans can be put into place and if the project will work.
Understanding that buildings are designed and built to last a long time, one must view it over its whole life span, ensuring it is durable but modern enough to not become outdated quickly.
QSs will amass all costs involved with clearance of the current site, materials needed to build the scheme and payment of those involved in the construction and reports all of these to the developer or client to ensure their profit margins make the scheme worth doing.
Ensuring buildings are compliant with all government and a local regulations is also a major responsibility. They must be energy efficient and be in line with legal caveats that may affect proposed developments.
Quantity surveyors draw up contracts with suppliers and contractors.
They may be hired by different businesses and there may be contradicting opinions. If a surveyor is working for the client who wants the building constructed, the contractors themselves will also have a QS in place to check and discuss costs to make them fair.
Through working knowledge of a project combined with due diligence, a quantity surveyor will often be seen as a voice of fairness in the boardroom. There may be heated debates and it is a central role to keep the project moving using dispute resolution. In some cases, a QS may have to represent the client if disputes need to be resolved in a court of law.
They will need to report frequently to the investors and clients to ensure all are running to the budget that has been proposed.
The role is not complete until the building is finished, the QS has carried out a final check of the scheme and the costing budget has been reviewed and agreed to by all parties involved.