A quantity surveyor may work for either the client or the contractor, working in an office or on-site. They are involved in a project from the start, preparing estimates and costs of the work. When the project is in progress, quantity surveyors
The title of the job may also be referred to as a construction cost consultant or commercial manager.
Typical work activitiesTypical tasks may include:
- preparing tender and contract documents, including bills of quantities with the architect and/or the client;
- undertaking costs analysis for repair and maintenance project work;
- assisting in establishing a client’s requirements and undertaking feasibility studies;
- performing risk and value management and cost control;
- advising on procurement strategy;
- identifying, analysing and developing responses to commercial risks;
- preparing and analysing costings for tenders;
- allocating work to subcontractors;
- providing advice on contractual claims;
- analysing outcomes and writing detailed progress reports;
- valuing completed work and arranging payments;
- maintaining awareness of the different building contracts in current use;
- understanding the implications of health and safety regulations.
- offering advice on property taxation;
- providing post-occupancy advice, facilities management services and life cycle costing advice;
- assisting clients in locating and accessing additional and alternative sources of funds;
- enabling clients to initiate construction projects;
- advising on the maintenance costs of specific buildings.
- Range of typical starting salaries: £17,000 - £25,000. Obtaining chartered status increases both your job and salary options.
- Range of typical salaries at senior level may be £35,000 - £50,000+. Principal partners in private practice may earn substantially more.
- Shift and site allowances are often paid on top of the basic salary. Company packages may include a car, pension and healthcare.
- Salary increases reflect the gaining of qualifications and responsibilities undertaken.
- Local government salaries are comparable and may include final salary pension schemes. A company car is not usually offered but car mileage for site visits may be available.
- Working hours vary. A contractor on site may work 7.30am - 6:00pm, while in private practice (PQS) or in a local government department, hours are usually 8.30am - 5.30pm. Occasional weekend work may be required.
- The work is generally office-based, although offices can be on construction sites, If not, day-long site visits may involve early starts and late finishes or an overnight stay. Secondment to sites for longer periods of time is also possible.
- Quantity surveying is a male-dominated profession, but the number of female recruits is significant and growing in both private practice and the public sector.
- Self-employment/freelance work is frequently possible. Companies are increasingly making use of freelance or agency workers to compete for contracts and offer faster turn-around times for completion.
- Opportunities for overseas posts and for occasional overseas work or travel are available. This varies according to the type of employer and the location of the site and the client.
It is also possible to gain a relevant postgraduate conversion degree after studying another subject. Useful first degree subjects include:
- urban and land studies;
- building or construction;
- civil or structural engineering.
Entry without a degree or HND is sometimes possible by working your way up through the industry. Some employers may be willing to fund part-time degree top-up courses, while others may prefer graduates. Those with non-relevant degrees need to take an RICS-recognised postgraduate conversion course.
Further study is essential in order to gain professional qualifications and membership of RICS. Relevant work experience, either on site or within an office, gives you a valuable start.
Candidates also need to show evidence of the following:
- practical and logical qualities and a methodical way of thinking;
- a creative and innovative approach to problem-solving;
- strong numeracy and financial management skills and the ability to learn sophisticated design and costing IT packages;
- the ability to write clear and precise reports and to relate complex information simply to a diverse range of people;
- negotiating and team-working skills and the ability to motivate and lead those on site;
- detailed knowledge of past and current building and construction technology, business and legal matters.
Many large, private practice firms have an annual intake of graduates and may have closing dates in December or January. Others, including smaller employers, may accept speculative applications