Most engineering and construction projects are large-scale operations, and completing them involves the investment of considerable amounts of money. Naturally, a client or contractor wants the maximum quality for the minimum cost; for this purpose, they hire people called quantity surveyors. A quantity surveyor is, in essence, the financial manager of a large engineering project who is tasked with maximizing the value of the project for his/her client by producing a most favorable balance of cost and quality. They may also be referred to as commercial managers or construction/engineering cost consultants.
A quantity surveyor is engaged in a project from the very beginning by working with clients and their contractors during the contract process and engaging in preliminary cost analysis. When this is complete and work begins, he/she keeps a constant vigil over the process and stays on the lookout for ways to improve the investment by producing regular profitability reports and keeping abreast of the evolution of the contract status; changes and potential changes are analyzed, reported, and implemented when desired. In many cases, quantity surveyors also assist in the acquisition of materials and work directly with (and sometimes hire) the needed subcontractors. They also provide advice and assistance for various tasks following completion of the project if further changes are necessary.
The position of a quantity surveyor typically requires a college degree with an emphasis in engineering and/or finance. Although candidates are advised to pursue official accreditation, those without a background in technical surveying are not ineligible so as long as they have the necessary education and experience.
Quantity Surveyor Tasks
- Prepare and manage material procurement schedules
- Encourage and develop a culture of contractual awareness and ensure that contracts are fulfilled by rigidly maintaining records, contractual notifications, change control, etc.
- Prepare internal cost/value reports for upper management and other departments.
- Assist in the identification of commercial risks and opportunities and carry out value engineering exercises as required.