The Chartered Quantity Surveyor
Unlike other products, designed and manufactured in advance, construction projects do not have a stable market price. They are expensive prototypes, expected to fulfil conflicting requirements within the rigours of a demanding schedule and an exacting budget. As a result of economic and technological developments, procedures available for construction works are increasingly complex, and whatever project is contemplated, it will be advisable to seek the advice of a Chartered Quantity Surveyor.
What is a Chartered Quantity Surveyor?
He is a construction cost expert who, by virtue of his specialist professional training and experience as a Corporate Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, has developed a thorough knowledge of construction economics, management and communications.
Traditionally, projects are designed by an Architect, Designer or Engineer in a multi-disciplinary design team in which the Chartered Quantity Surveyor is concerned with the financial and contractual arrangements.
Such arrangements would include advice upon the financial feasibility of a project in relation to the requirements, (e.g. space, function, quality and time) and to the funds available. When such considerations have been satisfied the Quantity Surveyor prepares tender and contract documents, advises on tenders received and deals with the financial activities during the construction process including calculating monthly interim payments to the contractor and settlement of the accounts on completion.
Time is Money
Time is a vital commodity to the majority of commercial organisations. The demands of business today do not always allow projects to be designed and tendered for prior to commitment. It is therefore essential that a realistic cost forecast is prepared and monitored throughout. Advice on selection of contractors, tendering methods and market conditions is vital.
No two projects are the same. Most major projects - and many smaller ones - are individual challenges and need individual solutions. Therefore, the construction industry has evolved a range of procedures. The most common are summarised below:
- Competitive tendering is the normal method, and can allow either for firm price tenders, or tenders which provide for cost fluctuations.
- Negotiated tenders enable the whole project to be planned from the outset with a single contractor, chosen for a particular expertise or construction system.
- In a package deal (or 'design and build') the contractor undertakes the whole task of design and construction and obtains approvals and executes the works. The contractor will of course have the advice of his own experts and it will be advisable for clients contemplating this approach to employ professional assistance in order to protect their interests as there will be many instances where the contractor will experience divided loyalties in this method. Indeed, most reputable exponents of this commercial approach recommend that their clients retain independent cost advice.
Are the Services of a Quantity Surveyor Limited to New Building Work?
The services of a Quantity Surveyor are equally valuable to the client when an existing building is to be altered or extended. Cost implications of such work are usually more difficult to assess and the finances more difficult to control thin they are for a new building.
In addition, many clients will wish to maintain a limited presence on site and possibly integrate a business operations with some kind of phased construction programme. In these situations a Quantity Surveyor can play a vital part in accommodating conflicting financial and special requirements of client and contractor.