The Construction Project Team – the Role of the Quantity Surveyor (Guest Article)

Specialist construction sales and marketing consultancy, Competitive Advantage, takes a look at the role of the quantity surveyor and their influence on product specification.

A Quantity Surveyor manages all costs relating to building and civil engineering projects, from the initial calculations to the final figures. The QS could work for either the Client or the Contractor, in an office or on site. They are involved in the construction project from the start, preparing estimates and costs of the work to be completed. They can also play an important part in managing the contractual relationships of the members of the project team.

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The Quantity Surveyor can be found in many different roles on the construction project:

  • Advising and representing the Client, possibly giving advice on issues such as sustainability
  • Supporting the Architect by writing specifications or giving cost advice
  • Working within the contractor organisations as Project Manager, Contracts Manager or Site Manager

Occasionally the QS makes product recommendations but more often he/she is overseeing choices to ensure the Client gets value.

The QS and Construction Product Specification
The Quantity Surveyor has significant influence on the selection of building products. Early in the construction project they will give advice on costs, helping establish total spend for project completion. Often, they will guide the Architect and/or Client when it comes to product specification, yet it would be wrong to consider that they are only interested in achieving the lowest price. They too will be looking for value, either in Capital Cost or Operational Cost as well as issues like good availability.

In-deed with the advent of CAD the need for someone to take quantities off drawings reduced and the role of the quantity surveyor changed. In addition to specification writing and project management today’s QS will provide advice in areas such as procurement, value engineering, infrastructure and sustainability. This makes them an important influencer in decision making. And now with the introduction of BIM, enabling greater collaboration between the different members of the Decision-Making Unit, the role of the Quantity Surveyor is evolving again, potentially seeing the QS taking more of a central decision in specification.

Some of the challenges facing the Quantity Surveyor are:

  • Quantity / stock monitoring
  • On site efficiencies
  • Product availability
  • Client management

Find out more. Get Understanding the Quantity Surveyor by clicking here.

Influencing Specification
In order to establish an effective specification strategy, it is important first to identify the benefits your building product offers to each of the different members of the project team. It is far better to sell on benefits, demonstrating why your product delivers value and is worth paying a premium for, than be caught in a price war with your competitor.

Consider how using your product may help the Quantity Surveyor in the challenges they face. Can you provide guaranteed delivery, installation efficiencies speeding project completion, UK stock provision?

When marketing to the Quantity Surveyor it is important to sell-in these value benefits early in the design process. The Quantity Surveyor will often be the starting point for a project, undertaking a feasibility study and defining a budget. Between 70% and 80% of a project’s costs are decided at concept stage and if your product has not been included at this point it will be much harder to justify a price premium later, even if you can demonstrate superior value. 

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The idea of value often goes hand in hand with brand and your product image. How do construction Quantity Surveyors perceive your brand?  Are they aware of the benefits that you offer, do these matter to them and can they see the benefit associated with a price premium?

One way to establish your brand with Quantity Surveyors is to offer CPD seminars. All RICS professionals must undertake a minimum of 20 hours of CPD activity each calendar year.

If your product has strong sustainability credentials then this may also be of interest to the QS. When it comes to sustainability we are also seeing a number of professions claiming this as their expertise. The Building Services Engineer probably has the highest profile in this area, but the Quantity Surveyor too, is laying claim to this expertise.

Another way to gain the support of the QS is by providing well written specification documents. The role of a specification is to provide the construction product information which cannot easily be shown on a CAD drawing. Developing standard specification clauses provides a means of saving the specifier time, enabling easy inclusion and ensuring that a construction product is correctly described to the architect’s original intention.

With thought these specification documents can also be written to minimise the opportunity for specifications to be value engineered out of the project by the quantity surveyor or substituted by the contractor’s buying department.

In order to purchase Competitive Advantage's "Developing Construction Personas: The Quantity Surveyor", click here.

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