Monday, July 19, 2010

Quantity Surveying in the 21st Century

By Neo Sekhantso

Quantity Surveying is a very obscure and largely misunderstood profession within the built environment. Many people are not aware of our function and often potential clients and indeed other professionals within the built environment believe that there is little if any need for our services.

Quantity Surveyors (QS’s) are cost engineers or the ‘accountants’ within the industry. We provide services including amongst many Feasibility/Viability Studies; Cost Estimates; Project Financial Planning and Control; Preparing and managing contracts etc.

QSs can work for their own practices, for firms, for construction companies, for banks and other financial institutions’ property divisions, or for property developers etc. Some QSs become consultants specializing in Civil Works (e.g. roads, harbors, airports etc.); for casino or hotel developers or government.

My name is Neo Sekhantso and I work for MLC Quantity Surveyors, Cape Town. I’m also the chairperson of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors Western Cape Chapter Junior Organization (ASAQS WP JO).

An average week in a Quantity Surveyor’s professional life involves different aspects depending on whether you work on the client side or on site (for a contractor). The difference between the two would be business suits and heels for the former or safety shoes and jeans for the latter.

I work on the client side and am currently involved in two hotel projects ; my week typically involves preparing documents for budgeting, cost control and contract purposes on behalf of the client; meetings with the design team (consisting of architects, interior designers, engineers etc); working with subcontractors on my projects and other administrative tasks.

I was also involved, for a brief period, with Cape Town Stadium. In a project such as that a team of QSs, in this case the Cape Town QS Association, would be tasked with Feasibility/Viability Studies to establish if the project was feasible and viable financially. Cost Estimates, to set assist the client in making budgets for the project. Project Financial Planning and Control which entail preparing cash flow projections, cost reports on a regular basis etc.

Cost reports are tools used to ensure that the project stays within budget, by highlighting any variations to the budget established with cost estimates and by making the client aware of any design or contract variations that affect the contract value established during the tenders process. QSs would prepare and assist in the management of contracts. They would do this by drafting tender documents, managing the tender process and advising the principal agent about who should be appointed for the works involved. These are but a few of the services QSs provide.

There is a great need to not only educate ‘outsiders’ about what we do as QSs but also to educate students and young candidate QSs about what the profession entails and the many career opportunities available to them. I am very passionate about this kind of education hence my involvement with ASAQS WP JO. The Junior Organisation (JO) is a relatively new body it was dormant for a few years until last year when I was asked by my former lecturer to help revive it.

The JO aims to cater to the educational and networking needs of young quantity surveyors within the Western Cape Province. We host lectures, networking and socials functions for young QSs. We will also be engaging with other professional bodies or organizations such as SAWomEng to ensure that our members network with other professions as well. This is necessary to bridge the gaps between the different professions that work together in the Built Environment.

Organizations such as SAWomEng are vital in the education of young QSs because Quantity surveying, like many professions within the Built Environment, is a male dominated arena. In any meeting or construction site one is often one of two or three female professionals. However this trend is slowly changing, as more and more females are made aware of professions within the built environment. Many women are entering and excelling in the field. There are more and more Quantity Surveying Practices and construction related companies run and owned by women. There are also a few other organization state or private that are encouraging and supporting women in the built environment. Examples such as South African Women in Construction (SAWIC), Women’s Property Network (WPN), Khuthaza etc. are making efforts to provide role models, networking and education opportunities for women.
As women within the profession, we owe it to ourselves and other young aspiring would-be professionals in the industry to showcase our brilliance, talent and intellect!

Background to the Author

Neo Sekhantso is a 23 year old FEMALE candidate Quantity Surveyor. She graduated from the University of Cape (UCT) with a BSc Construction studies (with Distinction, 2007) and a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying (2008). While at the University she received numerous scholarships from UCT’s Construction Economics and Management Department. She was on the Dean’s Merit List on two occasions ( in 2005 and 2006) and became a Golden Key Society member. She was also the Local Committee President of AIESEC’s UCT Chapter. She currently serves on the South African Quantity Surveyors Western Cape Chapter Junior Organisation (ASQS WP JO).


ainimufirah said...

as salam.. maaf kerana menulis di sini.. boleh saya tahu mengenai apa perbezaan roles of QS dalam JKR, developer, consultant ngan contractor? your great respond is highly appreciated. tq..jazakallah.

ukur bahan : quantity surveying said...

QS yang bekerja dengan agensi kerajaan (JKR, dll)dan consultant - berperanan sama iaitu menjaga kepentingan kewangan klien dan mempastikan kontraktor di bayar yg sewajarnya terhadap kerja pembinaan yg telah disahkan.

QS yg bekerja dgn private developer agak sama dgn QS yg bekerja dgn kontraktor. Yang berbeza ialah peranan iaitu developer sebagai klien bagi sesuatu projek dan kontraktor sebagai pihak yang membina projek.

Kerajaan sebagai pemaju/developer bagi projek awam/public dengan membelanjakan wang rakyat utk kemakmuran negara BUKAN utk kepentingan peribadi.

QS yg bekerja dengan kontraktor seolah2 hanya menjaga kepentingan kewangan kontraktor sahaja tetapi elakkan dari menipu. Perniagaan kontraktor mengizinkan keuntungan, tetapi jangan melalui penipuan.