Monday, February 8, 2010

Quantity Surveyor At A Glance

Quantity surveyors calculate the cost of building projects, taking into account labour, materials, taxes and maintenance costs. The work may also include making sure that jobs are completed on time, co-ordinating all the people involved and acting as a link with the client.

Aspects of Work : Central Aspects
Calculating financial and other commercial figurework
Learning about buildings, roads etc and how they are built
Understanding technical drawings and diagrams
Assessing the financial value of goods, buildings or services

Secondary Aspects
Deciding on the efficient use of resources eg materials, finance and people
Planning how work is to be carried out
Making agreements through negotiating and bargaining
Providing information
Learning about the uses of computers

Other Aspects
Working outdoors in any weather
Presenting ideas and information in writing
Being interested in aspects of law (eg business, personal, criminal)
Understanding the scientific uses and properties of materials
Using statistical methods to obtain, interpret and present information
Seeking out and analysing information
Influencing the actions or decisions of others
Travelling around locally from place to place

Work Activities
Quantity surveyors use an architect's or civil engineer's design to work out the cost of constructing a wide variety of buildings. They consider the cost of labour, materials, taxes, and the likely maintenance costs. The quantity surveyor controls the cost by accurate measurement of work combined with their expert knowledge of prices for work, labour, materials and plant required.

Private practice and central and local government quantity surveyors are usually office based and work from a fixed location. They use architect's plans to make an initial estimate of the cost of a project. They then produce a more detailed breakdown of costs and quantities known as the Bill of Quantities. They send this to building contractors so they can work out their bids for the project. Finally, they assess the bids they receive so they and their clients can decide who to give the project to.

Local and central government quantity surveyors also control expenditure on ongoing programmes, making the best use of budgets and balancing maintenance against new construction work. They must make sure that all design decisions are made at the start of the project to ensure good value is obtained for money spent. There are 2 kinds of quantity surveyor - one who carrys out work on behalf of an organisation and one who works for a construction company.

Commercial quantity surveyors are employed by building and civil engineering contractors. They prepare bids for construction work, and make sure that work is completed on time and to the required standard and that the contractor makes a profit. They assess the effect of any changes to the project or disruption in work and discuss it with the client's quantity surveyor.

Commercial quantity surveyors are usually based on construction sites and may need to move around the country for projects.

Personal Qualities and Skills
Although computers are used for complex calculations, you will need a high standard of numeracy. Deskwork includes report writing, which requires a clear, concise style.

Quantity surveyors need to be able to interpret technical drawings and architects' plans. They also need negotiating skills and initiative to make their own decisions. They must have good communication skills and be able to work as part of a team.

They need a wide knowledge of construction law, health and safety issues, building methods and time scales, and the costs of materials.

Pay and Opportunities
Employers include the public and private sectors. For all public sector pay scales please see Further contact details are listed below. In the private sector salaries will vary depending on the employer and specific job description. Entrants should expect starting salaries in the region of EUR25k to EUR30k a year. This will rise with experience.

Entry Routes and Training
Most quantity surveyors qualify as a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors (SCS) by first completing an accredited degree, but there are other professional qualifications that are also acceptable. For those with non-related degrees there are some postgraduate courses. Degrees in quantity surveying are available at a number of institutions throughout the country.

Membership to the SCS can be achieved by training for professional qualifications while working, after completing a relevant degree. 

Quantity surveyors are also expected to up date their knowledge by undertaking continuing professional development (CPD) throughout their career. 

Please visit QualifaX at for more information on relevant courses. (Please note that you will be leaving the Career Directions website. You should save your answers if you wish to return later).

Application for admission to undergraduate courses must be made in accordance with the regulations and procedures and timetable described in the CAO Handbook.

The Handbook is confined to giving information on how to apply for admission to the relevant institutions. Applicants should not attempt to complete the application form without first referring to the information literature on courses, which is available from the institutions to which application is to be made.

Candidates are recommended to check the prospectuses from the individual institutions for course details and specific entry requirements.

Please see for information on course qualifications.

Adult Opportunities

There is no upper age limit for entry to this occupation. Successful entrants over the age of about 30 often have substantial relevant experience at technician level. For example, you can progress as a technical member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. A background in planning or construction is also useful.

You may be able to enter relevant training through universities or colleges that relax normal academic entrance requirements for suitable mature applicants. Most academic institutions define people aged 23 years or over as mature candidates.

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