Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quantity surveyor : Job Description, Employers, Career Development & Case Study

A quantity surveyor manages all costs relating to building and civil engineering projects, from the initial calculations to the final figures. Surveyors seek to minimise the costs of a project and enhance value for money, while still achieving the required standards and quality. Many of these are specified by statutory building regulations, which the surveyor needs to understand and adhere to.

A quantity surveyor may work for either the client or the contractor, working in an office or on-site. They are involved in a project from the start, preparing estimates and costs of the work. When the project is in progress, quantity surveyors??

The title of the job may also be referred to as a construction cost consultant or commercial manager.

Typical work activities

Typical tasks may include:
preparing tender and contract documents, including bills of quantities with the architect and/or the client;
undertaking costs analysis for repair and maintenance project work;
assisting in establishing a client’s requirements and undertaking feasibility studies;
performing risk and value management and cost control;
advising on procurement strategy;
identifying, analysing and developing responses to commercial risks;
preparing and analysing costings for tenders;
allocating work to subcontractors;
providing advice on contractual claims;
analysing outcomes and writing detailed progress reports;
valuing completed work and arranging payments;
maintaining awareness of the different building contracts in current use;
understanding the implications of health and safety regulations.

Areas requiring more specialised knowledge include:
offering advice on property taxation;
providing post-occupancy advice, facilities management services and life cycle costing advice;
assisting clients in locating and accessing additional and alternative sources of funds;
enabling clients to initiate construction projects;
advising on the maintenance costs of specific buildings.

Quantity surveyors : Employers

The three major employers of quantity surveyors are the offices of private practice quantity surveyors (PQS), the surveying sections of building and civil engineering contractors, and local authorities and government agencies.

Many of these employers operate as multidisciplinary teams or departments, so quantity surveyors are likely to be working alongside other surveying professionals, such as civil engineers and architects. Quantity surveyors who work for contractors are often likely to be based on-site, working with site agents or contract managers.

Other types of organisations likely to employ quantity surveyors include large engineering consultancies and housing associations. Specialist house builders seek the expertise of quantity surveyors, as do some commercial companies, or indeed any public body with a large property portfolio.

Large international mechanical contractors and petroleum engineering companies often recruit quantity surveyors under the alternative title of cost engineer.

Quantity surveyor : Career development

Experienced quantity surveyors may undertake project management, effectively controlling the whole of a project on behalf of the client from initial design stage through to completion. This development is largely due to the growth of expertise in cost predictions and control. It has led surveyors to use their skills in wider spheres of activity, e.g. cost engineering in the petro-chemical and engineering industries. With experience, some take on more strategic roles in value engineering and risk assessment, while others may specialise in contractual disputes.

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has many members who work as quantity surveyors. Students seeking work in the civil engineering, petro-chemical and general engineering construction industries may consider joining the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES) , approximately half of whose members are qualified quantity surveyors. Similarly, it may be worth joining the The Association of Cost Engineers (ACostE) .

There are opportunities for working abroad. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) advertises vacancies with international employers through the jobs section of their website, RICS Recruit.

Case studies : Chartered quantity surveyor: Simon Kempthorne

Simon studied for a construction management and surveying degree at the University of Reading. He is currently a chartered quantity surveyor at EC Harris.

I attended a careers fair at my university during my second year and was welcomed by EC Harris who gave me the opportunity to conduct a summer placement. This proved to be invaluable during my final year at university as I was able to utilise the skills I had learnt. I was also offered a full-time graduate role once I had completed my degree.

My subject of study was hugely relevant to my current position as it is an accredited degree by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This enabled me to qualify for chartered status and I was able to complete the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) whilst working. This involved two years practical experience and passing an interview with a panel of assessors. The RICS professional qualification is highly regarded worldwide and I believe that it will prove to be a springboard to future career progression.

On a typical day I divide my time amongst the projects I am working on. I really enjoy this way of working as I am always facing new and exciting challenges across all phases of the built. I am able to frequently visit construction sites, which is great as you can physically see the fruits of your hard work. This ensures the work is consistently varied and interesting.

My role has developed from assisting in the commercial management of high-rise commercial and residential towers in the City of London to commercially managing the creation and operation of a large portfolio of built assets across Greater London for a leading public sector client. My career ambitions are to take an active role in developing the business through building excellent relationships with new and existing clients.

I enjoy working as part of a team in order to reach a common goal by sharing ideas, decision making and responsibilities. I especially enjoy the energy and innovative thinking that a high performing team provides. I also enjoy the variety of work which the profession provides and the opportunities for international mobility that EC Harris offers.

I find the most challenging parts of my job are managing team members and the expectations of clients. This will often involve challenging opinions and ideas of others in order to innovate and develop further ideas to tackle a problem.

The public sector presents many challenges. The best thing about working for the public sector is being able to provide tangible benefits to the public and being able witness the essential function and enjoyment the built asset provides.

I believe the construction industry presents many exciting opportunities. For those interested in a career in the industry I would recommend undertaking an accredited degree by the RICS. If this is not possible then seeking out an employer who can provide you with the training needed to enjoy a hugely rewarding career.

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