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Role of a quantity surveyor in construction projects

Role of a quantity surveyor in construction projects

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At the end of this article, you will have an in-depth knowledge of the role of a quantity surveyor in construction projects.

Hence, I have written some important roles quantity surveyor plays during the construction process and its surprising variations, such as: Changing in the original work (variation order), preparing bills of quantities, construction materials waste, and procurement.

Meanwhile, if you need the services of a professional Quantity Surveyor in your building project, do get in-torch with us. We have in-house personnel with years of experience.

Read: Building Plan Approval Process in Ogun State

Quantity Surveyor

A quantity surveyor prepares schedules of quantities of the various project elements.

In many places in the world, a schedule of quantities is prepared for most types of construction contracts, including lump sum and unit price.

In other places, the quantity surveyor prepares schedules of quantities for unit-price contracts, while the quantity take-off work for lump-sum contracts is left to individual tenders.

The practice differs, however, with the responsibility for generating these quantities through material take-offs often falling on individual contractors and their estimating staff.

The role of a quantity surveyor in construction projects

It is recognized that quantity surveyors are now playing a more important role in the area of contract management and all aspects of the professional work which relate directly or indirectly to construction work of all kinds.

The quantity surveyor is responsible to calculate any variation and extra work on-site as per the requirement of the project.

Customarily Quantity Surveying is concerned with contracts and costs on construction projects, also quantity surveyors control construction costs by accurate measurement of the work required.

These methods, however, cover a range of activities which may include value management, tendering, valuation, change control, claims management, and cost estimation.

Quantity surveyors have a broad agenda in managing all costs relating to building projects and they are specialized in the analysis of data for any material used and reconcile it all.

I have narrowed down the roles of quantity surveyor into four different places. Which are:

  1. Preparation of Bill of Quantities (BOQ).
  2. Procured materials.
  3. Preparation of site waste management plan.
  4. Control and minimize any cost variations.

Read: Requirements for building plan approval

  1. Preparation of Bill of Quantities (BOQ)

What is Bill of Quantity

Bill of quantities (BOQ’s) is a document that lists and itemizes an estimate of how much material is needed, as well as manpower, equipment, profit, and any other work that needs to be done in order to complete the project.

It is typically given out as a quote estimate in the bidding process.

Bills of quantities (BOQ) have been one of the key control documents, in both the building and civil engineering sectors, for over a century.

Bills of quantities are prepared by quantity surveyors. They are prepared by a “taking off” process in which the cost of a building or other structure is estimated from measurements in the architect’s drawings.

These are used to create a cost estimate such as in regard to the square area in meters of walls and roofs, the numbers of doors and windows, and systems as heating, plumbing, and electrics.

Similar types of work are then brought together under one item, a process known as “abstracting”.

Since the architectural drawings are dimensioned in millimeters (mm), therefore it is necessary to convert the plan dimensions to meters(m). That is, to two decimal places when transferring dimensions to quantity surveying paper.

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Effect on the use of BQ system

With respect to the client, the main drawback of the BQ system is that the clients carry the risk of any errors in the stated quantities; clarification, and correction necessitating the issue of a variation order.

But with respect to the contractors, the use of bills of quantities may prevent them from developing effective cost control systems.

The use of a BQ increases the efficiency in obtaining competitive tenders, as well as being the key document when calculating monthly payments and valuing variations.

The disadvantage of Bill of quantity

  • Bills of quantities compound labor and material costs by combining them into a single rate that is then adjusted in regards to material quantities.
  • They also do not consider all the main costs incurred by contractors such as construction plants, temporary works, and payments made on an interim basis in regard to work completed. Thus they do not actually model real costs.
  • Bills of quantities may prevent contractors from developing effective cost control systems.
  • They impair transparency in regard to changes and costs “It has been suggested that the reason why bills of quantity still find favor with contractors “is the opportunity it provides for creating a smokescreen around the contractor’s original intentions. Thus, front end loading may go undetected, and new rates may be negotiated almost from scratch”.

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  1. Procured materials

A construction process can be divided into four main phases: program, design, procurement, and production.

In the procurement phase, the client may choose a contractor and sign a contract with him.

Handling cost estimate of the procured materials

That is why a quantity surveyor is required from the beginning, to produce the feasibility study as well as handled the cost estimates of the procured materials, in conjunction with the rest of the project team.

Some of the problems of procurement in the construction industry are the increase in costs, delays, and faults

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  1. Preparation of site waste management plan

In a construction company, a quantity surveyor plays the role in preparing a site waste management plan from the starting stage of a project and continues to update it as the project progresses.

What is waste?

Waste is any material of no use or value to the owner or in other words, it is that material of no longer part of a chain of utility.

Wastes from construction, demolition, and excavation operations will usually be controlled waste, classified as commercial or industrial waste, and hence subject to waste-related regulation.

A construction project is accompanied by huge tons of construction waste causing a massive impact on the environment.

Hence, the reuse and recycling of waste products are crucial to reduce material waste and thus, reduce pollution.

According to quantity surveying studies, the benefit from identifying the construction materials will definitely lead to the saving of money as long as a useful waste management procedure is carried out.

Recently, it is noticed that effective and detailed analysis of site waste management is a necessity for most construction companies.

What are the site waste management plan?

The site waste management plan includes all types of construction materials expected to be created from the construction site and should be kept at the site as a reference.

The waste management plan also comprises the collection, quantifying of resources, transportation, processing, recycling, or disposal of waste materials.

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The preparation of a good site waste management plan is an important tool for construction companies to:
  • Rearrange and reuse construction materials (suitable soil, demolition materials, pruning, and surplus construction materials). The further use of waste materials in their original form after repairing or modification and thus avoid material waste, save raw material purchase and reduce waste transportation cost.
  • Identify and measure construction waste materials to minimize construction waste. This can be achieved by limiting packaging by weight or volume or by making materials recyclable.
  • Reduce rising costs of waste disposal.
  • Improve environmental performance
The processes that can be done to have good site construction waste management may include the following:
  • Better project planning (the purchasing of exact quantities of required materials, stacking, and storing of site materials).
  • Organizing material waste disposal. This should be started at the initial stages of project planning and continued through all phases of the project. The engineer has the authority to cancel and return delivered materials on-site if they are not as per specifications or they are damaged.
  • Planning to increase the level of recycling of construction waste. Segregation of different types of material wastes as they are generated is of great benefit.
  1. Control and minimize any cost variations

What is variation order

Variation order means the alteration, change, or modification of design, quality, or quantity of work omission, addition, or substitution of the work.

It is also including the alteration of the kind or standard of any of the materials or goods to be used in the work, and the removal from the site of any work, materials, or goods which are not in accordance with the contract.

There are requirements for variation orders in a building contract. Any additions, deletions, or other revisions to project goals and scopes are considered to be variations, whether they increase or decrease the project cost or schedule.

The role of a Quantity Surveyor when it comes to variation is to coordinate with the Project Manager and the Purchase Department to control and minimize any variation cost which might have major impacts on the project performance and achievements.

The management of variation orders of a project is considered successful if the variation orders are resolved in a timely manner to the benefit of all the parties and the successful management of variations demands awareness, preparation, and input from the project owner as well as the project contractors.

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Effect of variation orders in construction

The additional payment for a contractor, increase in overhead expenses, rework and demolition were considered as the most frequent effect of variation orders.

Thus, it gives an impact on the cost of the project, extends the completion period, and brings inconveniences to all the parties involved in the construction project, which are clients, consultants, and contractors.

Causes of project variation

Most commonly, lack of timely and effective communication, lack of integration, uncertainty, a changing environment, and increasing project complexity are the drivers of project variation.

Reason for variation management system

The fundamental idea of any variation management system in a building project is to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, resolve, control, document, and learn from past variations in ways that support the overall viability of the project.

Therefore, all parties involved should cooperate to assure that the efficiency of construction and thus will minimize the variation orders in the construction industry.

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Reasons why variations occur.

It may be due to extra work caused by subsurface conditions, additional quantities of works or materials, reduction of work, errors in contract documents.

Some variations can occur because of:
  • Change in design.
  • Errors and omissions in design.
  • Conflicts between contract documents.
  • Technology change.
  • Inadequate scope of work for the contractor.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Design complexity.
  • Inadequate working drawing details.
  • Consultant’s lack of judgment and experience.
  • Lack of consultant’s knowledge of available materials and equipment.

The contractor may suggest variations to the project, or the variations may be required because the contractor fails to fulfill certain requirements for carrying out the project.

Some of the variations can be:
  • Contractor’s financial difficulties.
  • Contractor’s desired profitability.
  • Lack of contractor’s involvement in design.
  • Unavailability of equipment.
  • Shortage of skilled manpower.
  • Differing site conditions.
  • Unfamiliarity with local conditions.
  • Contractor’s lack of judgment and experience

There are other variations, for example, safety considerations, changes in government regulations, weather conditions, and unforeseen problems.

Read: How to build a house on a small budget in Nigeria

About Construction Project

All construction projects of any size, type or complexity, follow a procedure, beginning with the preliminary planning and feasibility study and leading on through schematic design, design development, and contract document preparation.

A construction project is also a complex net of contracts with some legal obligations which must be carefully considered.

The contract is usually a written agreement.

 Why construction projects suffer from different problems

Construction contracts usually have a time or date by which the contractor must complete the work, but many construction projects suffer from delays, financial complications, and unsatisfactory outcomes because of the inadequate attention given to the evaluation of the variation orders.

Variations are common in all types of construction projects and play an important role in determining the closing cost and time of the projects.

Read: What to know before buying land in Nigeria: Don’t Be A Victim!

Tips to note about Engineers

It is well known that experienced engineers have good knowledge about quantity surveying and are aware of its importance in their daily construction work, while the newly graduated engineers might lack the essential information that they are in need of.

Quantity surveyor in construction Project


Important of a quantity surveyor in the construction Industry

A quantity surveyor is important in the construction industry, because:

  • He helps to explain the measurement process in variation order.
  • He helps improve waste management.
  • He helps in preparing the bills of quantities.
  • He provides instruction in developing skills and a logical approach in measuring simple building works.
  • He provides a platform for further studies in the measurement and pricing of building works.

Advantage of a quantity surveyor in construction Project

Some of the advantage of working with a quantity surveyor:

  • Is to give you an understanding of the technical aspects of construction throughout the period of a building or construction.
  • It also helps to accommodate the building requirements to suit the particular conditions of a project.
  • To realize the best quality and value within the client’s specifications
  • To understand contracts, budgets, quantities, and measurements.

Three major responsibilities of a Quantity Surveyor are:

  • To produce cost estimates, enabling budgetary and finance control.
  • To provide advice concerning contract strategy and taxation.
  • To prepare contract documents for the procurement of consultants and contractors. In other words, the negotiation of contracts, prices, change orders, and interim payments are being the responsibility of the Quantity Surveyor.

Read: How to Get Your Building Plan Approval in Lagos

Role of a quantity surveyor in the design stage

A quantity surveyor facilitates the design process by the systematic application of cost criteria so as to maintain a sensible and economic relationship between cost, quality, utility, and appearance which thus helps in achieving the client’s requirements within the agreed budget.

Understanding the important role of Quantity Surveyor and Project Management which is the art of directing and coordinating human and material resources in the construction process, will improve the construction quality in general, minimize the costs, forecast the possible consequences, gives suitable solutions and better circumstances to develop the construction industry.


I hope you find the article helpful if you have any questions, corrections, feedback, or intellectual knowledge you want to share. Please feel free to comment on the comment box below.

Source: Nijabuilding

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