What it Really Entails to be a Quantity Surveyor

Whether a construction company is building new homes, a shopping mall, restoring monumental buildings, or carrying out routine buildings maintenance, a quantity surveyor is the key person to ensure the project runs smoothly.

The role extends beyond the financial management of buildings projects. The quantity surveyor also has the knowledge of legal standards, and the buildings control legislations. This ensures that not only are building projects fulfilled legally, and to full health and safety standards, but also in a cost efficient way, to the benefit of construction firms.

What it Really Entails to be a Quantity Surveyor

Cost control is only part of the quantity surveyors job responsibilities.

The legal side of the job

There’s a reason for chartered status in the surveying industry and that’s relating to the legal aspect of the job. With work experience and ongoing training, quantity surveyors eventually become chartered. At this stage in the career, the employment prospects widen. This is because there’s a higher amount of responsibility.

Working alongside structural and civil engineers, the chartered quantity surveyor is responsible for overseeing any contractual agreements, the health and safety of workers on site, as well as ensuring that the health and safety regulations for buildings control are met.

It’s a high degree of responsibility, which is why a chartered QS job will carry a much higher salary.

Of course, with such a highly responsible job role, there’s certain skills a quantity surveyor must have to work in this field of excellence.

The skills a quantity surveyor must possess

  • Ability to think methodically
  • An excellent working knowledge of the construction industry
  • Excel at problem solving
  • Be great with numbers for the financial side of the job
  • Possess managerial skills and work with leadership
  • Communication and negotiation
  • Be computer literatel
  • Have a comprehensive knowledge of HSE building regulations and the legal guidelines surrounding them

There’s no QS going to walk into this profession with all the skills required. The job has far too much of a diverse range of duties and responsibilities, which is why for anyone to become a quantity surveyor, they must commit to striving for excellence.

You don’t qualify and get to work in this profession. When you first become a quantity surveyor, you are making a decision for life. You’ll have to commit to ongoing career development. That will see you first study to a degree level, then onto sitting different RICS courses, which let you learn and broaden your skills.

The more time you spend in the profession, the more skills you gain. As you gain those skills, your job roles will begin to get more diverse. Eventually, you’d expand into dealing with contractual agreements, and employing sub-contractors. You’ll also be sourcing and managing the supply chain, and perhaps even advising on property taxation issues.

In a way, you could consider a chartered quantity surveyor to play the role of an accountant who specialises in the construction industry.

Of course, where there’s so many aspects of the job needing done, the opportunity to narrow your career presents itself. In this profession, it is possible to narrow the range of responsibilities you have and specialise in some of the more specialist fields.

That could see you move into consulting with others, project management, carrying out risk assessments to minimise costings, or you could expand into becoming the tax expert to construction firms. Consulting on their capital gains tax, and allowances.

There’s also the opportunity to work as a funding specialist, assisting firms with landing the finance for large projects, as well as constructing winning bids for major contracts.  

None of this is possible without the quantity surveyor. When you become a chartered quantity surveyor, you can find yourself working in any number of the fields mentioned, or you could be tasked with many of them on the one contract.

As a quantity surveyor, you’re tasked with some of the most challenging responsibilities facing construction. Building regulations, HSE, and all the management involved throughout the project development.

If you fancy yourself as a quantity surveyor, you’ll need to be ready to commit to continual learning through the RICS courses, seminars, events, and perhaps slot in some time for distance learning too.

One single degree will not take you the top of this profession. Hard work, dedication, and commitment to professional development will be how you make it to the top, and earn the most, for the skills you gain throughout your career.