What is a Quantity Surveyor and why do you need one?

Posted by Robert Norman on Feb 17 - 2015

When taking on a building project – however big or small – it helps to have someone on hand to oversee your budget and best interests.

But all too often at Robert Norman Construction we are approached by prospective clients who have not even considered taking on their own quantity surveyor.

Here we explain why spending a little more for an expert could save you much more in the long run.

An architect can design you a beautiful home.

A construction company can make the vision a reality.

But a quantity surveyor – or QS - holds all the cards on key issues like costings and value for money.  

Consult early

Securing the services of a QS tends not to be the most urgent thing on your to do list when you set about a building project.

But trust us, it’s one of the best investments you will make.

Our advice is to consult a QS as soon as you have a scheme in mind – whether it’s a commercial project, a brand new home, an extension or a renovation.

Their first task will be to cost the construction job.

Reduce the risk

Without a QS, the design goes to planning and tender without an extra layer of cost checking, and therefore has more chance of going over budget.

With a QS, client aspiration is matched to budget early on.

It is all about safeguarding.

You see, the QS challenges both architect and the builder, making sure you’re never paying for more than what is done.

What else does a QS do?

As part of the pre-construction process a QS will advise on the most cost-effective and efficient procurement options.

You may want to choose a particular builder and negotiate a price. You may prefer to obtain competitive tenders from a series of recognised construction companies who have extensive experience in the sector.

Your QS can also advise you on the need for, and effective selection of, consultants, such as architects, engineers, interior designers, landscapers and suppliers of specialist materials.

Your QS will give you regular cost reports throughout the construction process.

They will also prepare interim valuations of works completed on a regular (usually monthly) basis, ensuring that payments are only made for work completed.

On top of this they will liaise directly with your chosen construction company and/or architect.

This means you will never feel out of your depth in discussions and will be able to track and understand the building process.

Is it worth the money?

Taking on a QS will cost money of course.

Usually this is around two to four per cent of the whole contract if used for the entire time.

But if you ask us, it is cash well spent.

After all, a QS can help a self-builder through the fiscal swamp, hopefully saving money en route.

And accurately estimating the cost of your project, and staying within budget is never simple.

The potential for minor changes to bring about major cost movement is great.

This means that the simpler and more efficient the process, the fewer demands there will be on your time and the more likely you are to avoid costly disputes.

But doesn’t Robert Norman Construction have their own QS? Why can’t I use them?

Indeed we do. But they oversee our costings and advise us.

A client should also employ their own QS who is independent of both architect and contractor.

That way our QS can liaise directly with the clients QS to make sure everyone is working from the same page and in the most professional manner.

On top of this, the client can feel safe in the knowledge that best interests are being seen to every step of the way.

If you would like some advice about finding a QS or want to talk to us about a project, drop us a line today.

Get in touch to find out how we can help

If you have an upcoming project we may be able to help with or any questions, please get in touch.

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