Thursday, October 23, 2008

Learning From Other QS 2

Marcus Rathbone is a chartered quantity surveyor working for a firm of construction consultants, Rex Procter and Partners in Bradford. He left school after A levels to take up an employer sponsored college course for five years. He worked on his own projects during his training, gaining valuable experience. 

How would you outline your role? 
I am part of a team of surveyors working for a principle client. Clients range from smaller private developers to multi-national corporations with projects carried out nationwide. My work depends on the nature and size of the project. It may involve a number of roles from the traditional quantity surveyor through to project manager.

What are your main responsibilities? 
They include the preparation of 'bills of quantities' (estimates of amounts of materials needed to complete a job) to obtain a price for building works as part of a tender process. I prepare and agree valuations with contractors to determine what the client should pay and advise on contract documents drawn up between the client and contractor. I also undertake project management of building works and prepare cost reports as the work is proceeding. Arranging and chairing site meetings to monitor progress of the works on site is also part of my job. 

What hours do you work? 
My contracted hours are 37.5 hours per week. My working day starts at 9.00am and finishes at 5.30pm. I usually have an hour for lunch and am free to take reasonable breaks during the day. Occasionally I work additional hours either to meet deadlines or if traveling to and from meetings or building sites. 

What is your working environment like? 
My work is largely office based using a computer during the day with additional desk space to review drawings and other information.

Who do you work with? 
I work with a team of surveyors supported by administrative staff. My colleagues represent a range of ages and experience from trainees to experienced senior members of staff. We are managed by a Practice Associate who is responsible for overseeing and managing day-to-day workloads. Each Associate is in turn overseen by a Partner of the practice who is responsible for the running of the company.

What skills or qualities do you need? 
Skills necessary to carry out this line of work include being good with numbers, computer literate and a good communicator. A reasonable standard of grammar will also help when preparing written documents. 

Why did you choose this type of work? 
I knew it would offer a varied workload and that the work would be largely desk based, but would offer the opportunity to leave the office for meetings and site visits. It is challenging but also rewarding with the opportunity to meet different people and travel.

What training have you done? 
After qualification it is necessary to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to keep up to date on construction matters such as law, contracts and government policy together with new construction techniques and materials. 

Do you use any special tools or equipment? 
The two essential pieces of equipment necessary are a calculator and scale ruler. Other than that the principle equipment used is a desktop PC on which estimates, valuations, cost reports and bills of quantities are prepared.

What do you like/dislike about your job? 
I like the variety of the workload and the fact that it is not a static mundane job. Responsibilities and tasks change with each job depending on the role being undertaken. The additional benefits of healthcare, company car and pension are also attractive. I am not as keen on some of the travel aspects of the job, which can sometimes mean early starts or late finishes. 

What are the main challenges? 
One of the more challenging aspects includes negotiating with contractors to resolve disputes or agree final accounts at the end of jobs. Managing the construction process can also be extremely challenging, but at the same time the most rewarding.

How do you see your future? 
It is my intention to remain in quantity surveying for the remainder of my career, however I may elect to specialise in a particular field of the profession at some time in the future. 

Marcus' route 
GCSEs..A levels..ONC Building Studies at college..Degree in Quantity Surveying… 
Member Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS).

Marcus' tips
Try and get the right qualifications as this will save time in gaining access to the degree course.
Take the part-time route to qualification, learning in both the workplace and the academic environment.
Try and get some experience beforehand. Ask local practices or the local authority for placement experience.


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