The Quantity Surveyor &
The Development Business

About Quantity Surveyore:

Those of you who are new to the real estate development business, need to understand what each Design professional contributes to the development team.

You need to know and understand the specific services they are capable of delivering for you.

Knowing what they do for you
... what you are paying for is vital.

This is part of a series of articles I am writing for you to explain what each profession does in some detail.

So far I have covered:

. The Architect and Real Estate Development
. The Structural Engineer and Real Estate Development
. The Hydraulic Engineer and Real Estate Development

and now we'll tackle the generally mis-understood profession of the Quantity Surveyor.

The Quantity Surveyor (QS), can also be known in the development and construction industries as a Construction Economist, or even a Cost Manager.

At feasibility stage quantity surveyors use their knowledge of construction methods and costs to advise the developer on the most economical way of achieving project requirements.

Quantity Surveyors do not usually work on small developments, such as six or tenresidential units/condos/apartments. But when such projects get into the highermultiples, I have always engaged them as part of my development team.

It might be timely to remind you of my description of what a developer or development manager does - a developer is a Manager of human - physical and financial resources. S/he is not an Expert - s/he engages Experts to carry out their specialist work so that the DM can achieve the development's goal.

The DM is not an expert - a DM is a "Generalist" and happens to know a lot about what goes into putting a successful development together.

That does not mean that a DM may not have had a specific building/construction expertise, it is just that s/he engages other to do that work and takes on the General's Work of getting the entire development off the ground and then completed successfully.

So a QS is one of those specialist professions that a DM engages to advise on construction costs.

At the start of a project you may have used, what we refer to as, a 'broad brush'price for the construction figure or an estimate prepared by a builder or indeed a QS.

However you arrived at the figure, it becomes your Construction Budget upon whichyour projects financial viability has been established.

Well, once you start the detailed development of your Projects Design, youneed ensure that every alteration, or I should say, expansion of the design, is still within the original Budget. That's another aspect of what your QS does for you.

A QS estimates and monitors construction costs, from the feasibility stage of a project through to the completion of the construction period andbeyond if you require the services.

The QS forms part of the Design Consultant Team and work closely with developers, architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, accountants, insurance underwriters, solicitors and Courts and with financiers.

A QS controls design construction costs, and compared them to the Budget Cost, by breaking down the building into major elements of the total cost structure - referred to as "elemental costs."

For instance, if most residential buildings, of the type and size you are proposing shows that foundations are usually $X per square foot or per square metre, and your plan design shows $X + per foot/metre, you would want to know why, at a stage of your project, when you have a chance to take corrective action.

Now within the major "elemental cost," the QS has a further break down of costs.

Staying with the example of our foundations, you would have such items as Steel Reinforcing, Concrete. So if the foundation costs are high, you can see that the cost of steel has increased in the past 3 months by 12% due to whatever reasons.

At lease you know the reason for the increase and if you are stuck with it, you know you have to look for 'cost saving elsewhere' so that you don't break your Budget.

Quantity surveyors can use techniques referred to as Cost Planning, Estimating, Cost Analysis, Cost-in-use Studies and Value Management to establish and control a project budget.

See how important these guys are?

Quantity surveyors get their name from the Bill of Quantities, a document which itemises the quantities of materials and labour in a construction project.

Bill of Quantities are measured from design drawings, to be used by the contractors for tendering or negotiating with the client a building cost and for progress payments, for variations and changes to the contract and ultimately for statistics, taxation and valuation.

During the design phase, the quantity surveyor ensures that the design remains on budget through Cost Management.

The building contractor also employs quantity surveyors/estimators, who prepare tenders, and may also prepare a price based on alternatives (ideas or other approached to the construction) for consideration.

Once tenders are submitted by contractors, the quantity surveyor is usually involved in assessing tenders and may also have been asked to advise on the type of contract or special clauses in it.

During construction a quantity surveyor is called on to fairly value "Progress Payments" at regular intervals.

They will also value changes to design or quantities which may arise by reference to appropriate Bill of Quantities rates. The contractor’s quantity surveyor/contract administrator will have prepared claims for progress payments and additional work.

When construction is complete the quantity surveyor can produce depreciation schedules of the various project components and advise on realistic insurance replacement costs.

In the case of construction disputes the quantity surveyor is often called on as an expert witness, and some quantity surveyors act as arbitrators. Both the contractor’s and owner’s quantity surveyors will be involved in this.

Quantity Surveyors have usually completed an appropriate tertiary degree course and undertaken work experience which qualifies them for membership of the their country's Institute of Quantity Surveyors.

Quantity Surveyors work on projects ranging from office blocks, schools, hospitals, factories to bridges, railways, oil and mining development, shipbuilding and large process engineering works such as oil refineries. Anywhere, indeed, that major construction work is carried out.

How do you select a Quantity Surveyor:

. Make sure they are a member of your country's Institute of Quantity Surveyors.

. Meet and discuss your project.

. Discuss the range of services you require and if you don't understand the service, ask for an explanation.

. Ask about the likely fees you will have to pay. At this stage you will not get a firm fee as the project parameters have not been determined.

. Make sure you feel comfortable and get the responses you want.

. Ask to look at examples of projects they have done and talk to former clients.

To get in touch with a Quantity Surveyor in your area of operation, contact the Institute of Quantity Surveyors in your country, who can then direct you to the Local Chapter of the Institute.

Here are the links to some of the major Institutes:

I do not believe the Profession of Quantity Surveying exists in the United States.

. The Australian Institution of Quantity Surveyors

. The Association of South African Quantity Surveyors

. The Quantity Surveyors Society of British Columbia

. The New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors

The Society Of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

. The Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors

If your country's Institute of Quantity Surveyors is not listed above just go to : Google Search and type in the Search Box; "Institute of Quantity Surveyors "

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