What is a quantity surveyor?

Quantity surveyors work within the land management, property and construction industries.

They are the men and women responsible for calculating and managing the costs relating to projects, from helping create initial estimates to finalising the complete budget requirements.

Quantity Surveyors are always involved at the start of a project, being brought in to look at the feasibility of planned construction or repair efforts, they then remain as overseers during the capital expenditure phases of development.

This means they are involved, often on the site, through to the completion of construction, keeping a constant eye on the forecast and actual costs, as well as being required to react quickly to problems and changes in specifications with updated costings and feasibility reviews.

quantity surveyor must haves: financial mindset and attention

It is the role of the Quantity Surveyor to ensure that costs are kept within budget without sacrificing value for money or final standards. They also need to understand all the relevant building regulations for a project and ensure that costings allow these to be properly adhered to.

Quantity Surveyors might be working on building control, looking at the costing and design of all types of buildings, or building surveying, where they would be supervising the construction of anything from a home extension to a multi-million pound tower block. Over time and with growing experience they often move towards project management, where they would be responsible for looking after the end-to-end process of a construction development.

Working for either client or contractor, Quantity Surveyors are likely to spend time both in offices and out on site, keeping a close eye on construction as it progresses to track any changes that could affect costing’s and ultimately, profitability.

Occasionally surveyors might get involved to help parties settle disputes that arise because of construction work, as well as advising on legal and contractual issues to do with ongoing projects.

quantity surveyors jobs: variety, onsite and offsite

Typical day-to-day duties might involve advising on a procurement strategy for an upcoming project; analysing costing for a planned build; analysing tenders and allocating work to the selected contractors, and preparing budget documents for senior management and accountants.

The role requires a high level of attention to detail as well as excellent mathematics skills, alongside strong logical thinking and the ability to create insightful reports for all levels of construction employee.

There are a number of career routes open to become a Quantity Surveyor, though the most common is to take a degree or professional qualification that is accredited by RICS, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, membership of which allows surveyors to describe themselves as Chartered (usually after two years work experience post degree).

Membership can be gained by studying an accredited degree, through professional experience, or through membership of other relevant professional bodies. Those already working in construction or engineering can qualify by taking a part-time distance learning degree if they so wish, allowing them to continue working (and earning!) whilst qualifying.

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