What is a Quantity Surveyor?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A quantity surveyor is a construction professional who controls the costs on a construction project, using a variety of professional skills acquired through training and practice. Quantity surveyors originated in the United Kingdom, where they may be known as Chartered Quantity Surveyors if they belong to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and they can also be found in Canada and many other regions of the world. This profession emerged in the 19th century, when construction projects first began employing professionals to estimate, control, and handle costs.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

Quantity surveyors can be involved with a project from the day the idea of a project is developed to the final walk through once the project is complete. They are involved in the cost estimation process, using their knowledge about the industry and similar projects to determine how much a project should cost. A quantity surveyor may work for the owner contracting the project, showing him or her typical costs, or for a contractor, helping a contractor prepare a bid for tender. The quantity surveyor helps to keep costs reasonable and fair because he or she is familiar with the industry standard.

Once a project is underway, a quantity surveyor monitors costs, keeping the project on track, and helps keep the project organized financially. Quantity surveyors can work for contractors and owners, providing services which are designed to minimize costs while ensuring that the project is of high quality. They are also concerned with the enforcement of standards, ranging from the basic building code to specific recommendations from professional organizations which may exceed the building code.

Quantity surveyors can also be involved after a project is complete, with issues like repairs and renovations. Extensive knowledge of a project during the construction phase can be useful for a quantity surveyor when making estimates about repairs and other issues, and quantity surveyors may also be consulted about topics like property tax, insurance, and other costs which may be associated with a construction project. Consulting services on issues like property taxes are not offered by all quantity surveyors.

This type of work can be appealing for people who are good with numbers, patient, and skilled at processing a lot of information. People can become quantity surveyors through a number of routes, including formal education and practical experience as contractors and estimators. Membership in a professional organization is strongly recommended for people who want to advance in this field, as such membership comes with a number of advantages including access to private job listings, continuing education opportunities, and standards enforcement.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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