As a quantity surveyor, I’ve encountered my fair share of misunderstandings about what I do and what a quantity surveyor is. In this article, I’ll be debunking Seven of the biggest myths and misconceptions that people have about our profession.
From mistaken identities (no, we’re not the same as surveyors) to incorrect assumptions about our role (we do more than just crunch numbers), these misunderstandings can be frustrating for us and can even lead to missed opportunities for our clients.
But don’t worry, by the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what we do and how we can add value to your construction project. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the top seven misunderstandings people have about quantity surveyors.
Mistake #1: Quantity Surveyors and Surveyors are the Same
One of the most common mistakes people make is confusing quantity surveyors with surveyors. While both professions deal with measurements and data, the similarities end there.
Surveyors measure land, buildings, and other structures to create maps and plans, whereas quantity surveyors focus on the cost management of construction projects.
For example, on a new hotel development, a surveyor may be responsible for creating a topographic map of the site, while a quantity surveyor would work with the client and contractors to develop a budget and schedule for the project.
We work with clients, contractors, and other professionals to ensure that a project is completed within budget and on time, and we also handle tasks such as project management, contract administration, and risk assessment.
So, while surveyors and quantity surveyors may both seem alike, our roles and responsibilities are quite different.
Mistake #2: Quantity Surveyors Only Deal with Costs
It’s true that cost estimation and budget management are important responsibilities of quantity surveyors, but we do so much more than just crunch numbers.
On a residential development, for example, we might work with the client to develop a cost plan for the project, identifying potential cost savings and risks. We also play a key role in project management, working with clients and contractors to ensure a project is completed on time and within budget.
We handle tasks such as issuing and analyzing tenders, negotiating contracts, and monitoring project progress to make sure everything is running smoothly.
And, because we have a thorough understanding of construction techniques and materials, we can also provide valuable input into the technical aspects of a project.
So, while cost management is certainly a crucial part of our job, it’s just one of many tasks that we handle on a daily basis.
Mistake #3: Quantity Surveyors Only Work on Large, New Construction Projects
One misunderstanding about quantity surveyors is that we only work on large-scale commercial developments or infrastructure projects that are being built from scratch.
However, this is not the case. We can work on projects of all sizes, from small renovations to multi-million dollar developments, and we can work on projects that involve new construction as well as refurbishment and redevelopment.
On a small renovation project, for example, we might be responsible for developing a budget and schedule for the work, coordinating with contractors and other professionals, and monitoring progress to ensure that everything stays on track.
We might also work on maintenance and repair projects, where our skills and expertise can help to ensure that the work is completed efficiently and effectively.
Our skills and expertise are applicable to a wide range of projects, and we can add value to any construction project, big or small.
So, while we may be most commonly associated with large-scale new construction projects, our skills and expertise are applicable to a wide range of project types and sizes.
Mistake #4: Quantity Surveying and Cost Management are the Same
While both quantity surveying and cost management involve the financial aspects of construction projects, these are actually two distinct professions.
Quantity surveyors are responsible for a wide range of tasks related to the cost management of construction projects, including cost estimation, budget management, project coordination, and contract administration.
Cost managers, on the other hand, are typically responsible for the overall financial management of a project, including tasks such as budgeting, forecasting, and financial reporting.
However, it’s worth noting that many quantity surveyors do play the role of cost manager on construction projects, as they are often the best fit for the job due to their extensive knowledge of construction costs and their ability to coordinate the delivery of the project.
On a large commercial development, for example, a quantity surveyor might be responsible for developing a cost plan for the project and also preparing financial reports for the client.
Mistake #5: Quantity Surveying is Just a Math Subject
While it’s true that quantity surveyors use math on a daily basis to perform tasks such as cost estimation and budget management, our profession involves much more than just math.
Quantity surveying is a science and an art, and we must have a thorough understanding of construction techniques, materials, and contracts to be successful in our roles.
We must also have strong communication and problem-solving skills, as we work with clients, contractors, and other professionals to coordinate the delivery of complex construction projects.
On a high-rise development, for example, we might use math to develop a budget for the project.
Still, we would also need to understand the technical aspects of the design and the requirements of the contract to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.
So, while math is an important tool in our toolkit, it’s just one aspect of the diverse skill set that we bring to the table.
Mistake #6: Quantity Surveyors Only Work in the Construction Industry
While it’s true that quantity surveyors are most commonly found in the construction industry, our skills and expertise are transferable to a variety of other sectors as well.
In industries such as oil and gas, infrastructure, and mining, we may be responsible for cost control and contract administration, ensuring that projects are completed efficiently and within budget.
For example, on a mining project, we might be responsible for developing a budget and schedule for the work, coordinating with contractors and other professionals, and monitoring progress to ensure that everything stays on track.
We might also be involved in the procurement of materials and equipment, and we might handle tasks such as contract administration and risk assessment.
So, while we are most commonly associated with construction, our skills and expertise can be applied to a wide range of industries.
Mistake #7: Civil Engineers Can Do the Job of a Quantity Surveyor or Replace Us
While civil engineers and quantity surveyors both work in the construction industry, our roles and responsibilities are quite different.
Civil engineers are responsible for the design and construction of infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and water systems, while quantity surveyors focus on the cost management and project coordination of construction projects.
It’s important to recognize that each profession requires a unique set of skills and expertise, and while there is some overlap between the two, it’s a mistake to think that civil engineers can do the job of a quantity surveyor or replace us.
Quantity surveyors have a thorough understanding of construction costs, contracts, and project management, and we are experts at coordinating the delivery of construction projects to ensure that they are completed on time and within budget.
We work closely with clients, contractors, and other professionals to identify potential cost savings and risks, and we provide valuable input into the technical aspects of a project as well.
So, while civil engineers bring a valuable skill set to the construction industry, it’s important to recognize the unique contributions that quantity surveyors make as well.
There are several misunderstandings that people often have about quantity surveyors. These include the belief that we are the same as surveyors, that we are different from cost managers, that we only work in the construction industry, that our work involves only math, and that we only work on large, new construction projects.
However, as we have seen, these misunderstandings are not accurate. Quantity surveyors are professionals who specialize in the cost management and project coordination of construction projects, and we have a wide range of skills and expertise that make us uniquely qualified to perform these tasks.
Our skills and expertise are applicable to a wide range of project types and sizes, and we can work in a variety of industries.
We hope that this article has helped to clear up any misunderstandings you may have had about quantity surveyors and that you now have a better understanding of the valuable role that we play in the construction industry.