What is a quantity surveyor?

quantity surveyor sydney
The Quantity Surveyor (QS) Report
15 October, 2020

A quantity surveyor is a person who estimates and controls costs for large construction projects, ensuring that all legal and quality standards are also met. Quantity surveyors are involved in all aspects of a construction project, whether it be commercial, industrial or residential.

What does a quantity surveyor do?

Their tasks will differ depending on the stage of the project they’re involved in. For example, a quantity surveyor could be involved during the design or construction phase of a project.

Main roles of a quantity surveyor

The primary duties of a quantity surveyor include:

  • project management in construction
  • construction sites visits
  • reviewing projects’ costs and budgets
  • analysing the client’s finances
  • creating various legal, cost estimation and finance reports
  • examing structural drawings and specifications of a building

Daily tasks of a quantity surveyor

Tasks that a quantity surveyor usually performs on a daily basis include:

  • Forecasting the cost of various materials needed for the construction project
  • Preparing contracts, construction budgets, bills of quantities, tender documents and any other paperwork that may be required.
  • Adjust budget predictions based on any changes that may occur during the various phases of the project
  • Agree to the services that contractors and/or subcontractors working on the project will perform. This includes paying subcontractors.
  • Measure and value the work done on-site
  • Liaise with other stakeholders, including site managers, engineers, project managers and other construction professionals
  • Select and/or source construction materials
  • Write reports including council cost reports

Quantity surveyors can be both, based at their own office or work on-site. Those who work in their own office tend to work typical office hours i.e., 9 to 5, Quantity surveyors who work on-site typically work longer hours and even work night shifts.

Which organisations usually need quantity surveyors?

Organisations that would typically employ a quantity surveyor include:

  • Cost management and QS consultancies
  • Engineering and construction companies
  • Property developers
  • Architectural firms
  • Government organisations

What skills a quantity surveyor needs to have?

To be a successful quantity surveyor, you need a combination of hard and soft skills. here are the most important ones:

  • analytical skills – which are crucial for assessing budgets, costs, contracts and projects. You need to be able to analyse lots of data, be detailed oriented and make logical decisions based on that.
  • mathematical skills – it’s desirable to have a high level of mathematical skills due to estimate with cost and budgets of construction projects.
  • communication skills – whether you’re working as an independent quantity surveyor specialist, or in an in-house role, you’ll need to communicate with team members, clients, and other stakeholders. Therefore, you’ll need to have great negotiation skills, too.
  • time management skills – working as a quantity surveyor often means working with different projects simultaneously, and therefore, time management skills will be crucial here.
  • computer skills – the majority of your day will include working on a computer, therefore you need to be comfortable with different programs and applications needed to calculate budgets, costs, and time frames of projects.

What education do you need to become a quantity surveyor?

Usually, you will need a bachelor’s degree in one of those fields:

  • construction management
  • applied science
  • surveying
  • architecture
  • civil engineering
  • accounting

These fields usually take two to four years to obtain your bachelor’s degree, but this is just the first step toward becoming a quantity surveyor. What you will also need is an internship in quantity surveying if you lack practical experience.

How to become a quantity surveyor?

The road to quantity surveyor role is long but rewarding. The career path can be very lucrative and satisfying. Here are some steps you need to complete before becoming a quantity surveying specialist:

  1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as accounting, architecture, or construction management
  2. Gain some practical experience – during an internship, or in junior quantity surveyor positions
  3. Get licensed – you need to obtain your license to work as a quantity surveyor. Each state in Australia has its own requirements. For NSW, you need to obtain the NSW Government’s Fair Trading Department license.
  4. Become a professional member of AIQS, the Australian primary professional organisation for quantity surveyors.

Quantity surveying governing bodies in Australia

The Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS) is the peak professional standards body for built environment cost professionals. The AIQS has chapters all across Australia, as well as two international branches; one in the UAE and one in Qatar.

The AIQS has 5,000+ members. The job titles for typical members include Cost Consultants, Cost Engineers, Cost Estimators, Cost Managers, Project Controllers, Quantity Surveyors, as well as graduates and students.

Angelo Antidormi
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