Quantity Surveying

If you have an urgent problem involving quantity surveying in construction or engineering about which you would like some initial Free Advice please call us now on 01773 712116 or email: info@streetwisesubbie.com.

Quantity Surveyor Or QS

The Contractor’s QS is often seen as aggressive and employed by Contractors for the specific purpose of saving them money no matter what.

This is in contrast to quantity surveyors in private practice (sometimes referred to as cost consultants or commercial managers) whose role is to provide expert advice on construction costs.

Back in the day all quantity surveyors made sure that the works were valued both fairly and objectively.

Most QS’s back then would be RICS qualified, and being a QS was a very respected profession. Now, an awful lot of Contractor’s QS’s in particular, are not RICS qualified, and ignore the rules about integrity, honesty and objectivity.

Nowadays, the role of a Contactor’s QS is often to get away with paying as little as possible, as late as possible and to look for any reason whatsoever to set off or counterclaim whether that claim is valid or not.

Over the years, here at Streetwisesubbie and in my work at Ashmore Consulting, we have seen far too many spurious and made up claims, and  some have sadly resulted in the insolvency of the sub-contractor. So please, don’t be a guaranteed meal ticket and bonus for the Main Contractor’s aggressive QS.

What Can You Do About It?

Firstly, recognise that it’s happening. This might sound over simplistic, but you would be surprised how many subcontractors fall for the QS’s “I’m smarter than you” BS…

Secondly, take a deep breath and stand back from all the noise and hassle and take a few minutes to consider the best course of action and the following thoughts about what to do if the Contractor is not paying you properly, or is issuing unfounded Pay Less Notices;

  1. Don’t get angry, frustrated or any other emotional response. Stay calm.
  2. Don’t rush or jump or buckle at the first figure or argument put forward.
  3. Don’t fall for the “it’s this or we won’t pay another penny” routine.
  4. Don’t agree to anything you don’t understand and if you need to, don’t be shy about taking time out to get advice.
  5. Make sure you follow the procedures set out in the contract – and make sure your view of the valuation is realistic and properly evidenced.
  6. If your account is being undervalued escalate the problem to a higher level in the Contractor’s organisation
  7. Don’t waste time trying to persuade someone who doesn’t want to understand
  8. Recognise when it’s time to change your approach – don’t just wait for things to change on their own – they won’t.

Please remember that If you have any kind of problem involving quantity surveying and would like some initial Free Advice please call us now on 01773 712116 or email: info@streetwisesubbie.com.

quantity surveying

What Is Quantity Surveying?

Quantity Surveying is a profession akin to that of a doctor or lawyer in that it combines formal qualification with specific training and experience that provides a general set of skills which are then applied to a diverse variety of problems.

QS’s work in professional quantity surveying practices, and in various other organisations. These include national and local government bodies and agencies, Contractors and Specialist Subcontractors, developers, financial, legal and insurance companies.

Some QS’s are trained in techniques of cost control and may use the term “Construction Cost Consultant”.  Their primary role is to ensure that projects are designed and constructed in such a manner as to secure value for money, cost certainty and achieve programme dates.

Some QS’s specialise in project management, and their background and training provides a good foundation for understanding the complexities of modern large-scale projects.

Private Practice or Industry Based

Although all QS’s will have followed a similar course of education and training (for those entering the profession today, this is usually to degree level), there are many areas of specialisation in which a QS may concentrate.

For the most part the StreetwiseSubbie will encounter QS’s who are either

a) carrying out work on behalf of the Employer or Client organisation and are referred to as a “Professional Quantity Surveyor”, or “PQS”.


b) work for construction companies and known as a “Contractor’s Quantity Surveyor“.

The functions of a PQS or Consultant Quantity Surveyor

Their role covers a range of activities which may include cost planning, value management, feasibility studies, cost benefit analysis, lifecycle costing, tendering, valuation, dispute resolution and cost estimating.

The QS’s traditional independent role on the team comprising client, architect, engineer, QS has given him a reputation and appreciation for fairness. However, it is not un-common for the QS to come under pressure from the Employer/Client to act in a more partisan manner, and the Specialist Subcontractor would do well not to take it for granted that the QS will act fairly and objectively.

Traditionally, quantity surveyors exercised control over construction costs by accurate measurement of the work required, the application of expert knowledge of costs and prices of work, labour, materials and plant required. This enabled them to have an understanding of the implications of design decisions at an early stage and to advise the Employer/Client accordingly.

The technique of measuring quantities from drawings, sketches and specifications prepared by designers, principally architects and engineers, in order to prepare tender/contract documents, is known in the industry as taking off.

Contractor’s Quantity Surveyor

A Contractor’s QS is responsible for the performance of operations similar to those of the PQS; i.e., the measurement and pricing of construction work, but specifically that actually performed by the Contractor (and the Contractor’s Subcontractors).

The role of a Contractor’s QS will extend to such other areas as Subcontract formation, dealing with all matters relating to costs and values of the project including payment and cash flow forecasts.

The QS usually reports to Project Manager or Project Director and provides advice throughout the management of a project from initial inception to final completion.

The Streetwise Subcontractor should not expect any degree of impartiality or fairness from the Contractor’s surveyor!

The Contractor’s Surveyor is there to make money for the Contractor!

We would strongly recommend that you use the Ask Streetwise or Streetwise Confidential facilities on this site to obtain further advice if you find yourself involved in any kind of issue relating to Quantity Surveying or the measurement and valuation of your works.

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