What is a QS?

NZIQS would like to thank CIQS - Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors for allowing us to share this video

The quantity surveyor is the person responsible for figuring out just what a construction project is going to cost. They have other roles too, especially making sure that construction costs and production are managed as efficiently as possible.

Quantity surveyors have this title because they prepare a ‘schedule of quantities’ — estimates of the material, labour and service costs. The schedule is also called a cost estimate.

Other names for people employed with quantity surveying qualifications include estimator, cost engineer, cost manager, cost analyst, project coordinator, project cost controller and cost planner.

Quantity surveyors’ main roles are:

  • managing the finances for any kind of construction project, whether it’s a house, a high-rise, a bridge, or a tunnel
  • working to keep the project on time
  • working to keep the project within the budget
  • making sure that construction costs and production are managed as efficiently as possible
  • resolving disputes between contracting parties.
  • preparing insurance replacement estimates for all kinds of buildings, including houses. See Insuring your house

Before construction starts

Quantity surveyors can help with feasibility studies for a project. They can roughly estimate what’s involved in the project, based on measurements of the designer’s or client’s sketches.

The quantity surveyor studies the architects’ and engineers’ plans, identifies the costs involved, and then sets an overall estimated budget for the project. They may compare the project with others like it.

The quantity surveyor can then plan costs to help the design team stay within the project budget using practical solutions. This is called value engineering.

The final detailed estimate is prepared by the quantity surveyor, together with a project architect. This is the basis for evaluating tenders.

When construction starts, the quantity surveyor keeps costs on track

Once the building starts, the quantity surveyor can provide cash flow data so the client can arrange the finances needed for each stage of the project.

The quantity surveyor can also assess cost effects when changes to the project occur, such as delays, and agree on ‘variation’ with contractors.

The quantity surveyor can provide a bank with a project report and help a client by preparing draw down certificates for money to be loaned by the bank.

Resolving disputes between clients, designers and building contractors is another role in some projects.

When construction is over, the quantity surveyor adds up the total cost

The quantity surveyor can prepare a statement of final account, which records the actual costs for all sections of the job.