How to avoid crisis mode by engaging a Professional Quantity Surveyor in the early stages of a project.

By Sylvester Pal

A Quantity Surveyor is a Cost Manager or Cost Engineer within the construction industry. They are an integral part of a building project and are, arguably, one of the most important service disciplines in any construction industry. A Quantity Surveyor ensures that the client is getting value for money, provides advisory services into materials and pricing, liaises with stakeholders, and ensures the project stays on budget. The knowledge and expertise of a Professional Quantity Surveyor (PQS) is invaluable to clients – they are able to provide sound advice and guide the client through the costing and budget process, which at times can be very complex and quickly fall apart.

After working as a Quantity Surveyor and working in the industry for many years , I’ve seen too often a Quantity Surveyor’s core skills neglected by many clients – until the client falls into a critical situation which results in a frantic call asking us to come onboard. We often get called late into a project when budgets are being blown out of the water and clients are struggling to trust and deal with a number of contractors, we end up taking over management of the contractual and monetary requirements for the project.

My experience has led me to write this blog, I want to help educate clients of the importance of engaging a PQS early on and highlight what issues could be avoided had a PQS been working on a project from the start. Many clients believe hiring a PQS in the early stages incurs additional, unnecessary costs, and they assume by engaging us later in the project it is saving them money. What clients do not realise is that this decision could be costing them more money in the long run and tends to lead to major unforeseen or unquantified losses to the project in terms of time, costs and quality.

Involving a Professional Quantity Surveyor in the early stages prevents:

      • Misinterpretation of contract clauses.
      • Incorporation of miscellaneous items and costs being missed in the budget.
      • Underestimating project durations such as neglecting inclement weather conditions, unforeseen situations, holidays, weather seasons, other non-quantified items, etc.
      • Overestimating project duration – project scope is not properly measured which eventually increases the cost of the tender price.
      • Overestimating project budget – this could be an issue especially if working for a non-profitable organisation, i.e. Church. The overestimated values could be used to finance other projects which could run simultaneously to the current project.
      • Preparing a detailed Scope of Works (SOW) before a request for tender (RFT) is sent to contractors. Sometimes SOW’s are not clear to contractors and schedules/trade summaries are not provided within the RFT documents which could be used in tender price
      • A Schedule of Rates (SoR) not being requested during the tender stage. A Schedule of Rates is very important in tender analysis when there are unforeseen variations and conditions in the project. In our experience, many consultants only request labour rates, whereas, a Quantity Surveyor may request rates for works that are related to the foreseen variations to the contract.
      • Main Contractor and/or Subcontractor negotiations being missed.
      • Working day rates, on-site and off-site overheads, and profit margin negotiations potentially be ignored.
      • Where a Quantity Surveyor has not been engaged, it can lead to little or no control over the design. Designers may change their design concept which can result in undetermined and unfactored costs. These issues could be avoided by engaging PQS’s during the design phase.

Services that a Quantity Surveyor provides during the construction stage of a project:

      • In-depth Progress Claim assessment – ensuring the contractor is only claiming for actual works done to the claim date.
      • Professionally interact and coordinate with contractors, funders, design consultants and other stakeholders involved in the project.
      • In-depth variation assessment – request for substantiations from contractors and source alternative pricing should the variation price be higher than the amount budgeted.
      • Payment forecast breakdown for the client’s monetary schedules.
      • Calculate and deduct retentions according to the contract.
      • Knowledge and understanding of the contract and any relevant clauses/legislation. A PQS will handle any disputes that may arise.
      • Calculate and confirm Extension of Time (EOT) requests, ensuring they are justifiable and may be subject to working day rates.
      • Represent clients in project disputes to ensure that the best outcome is achieved for all parties involved in the dispute.

Services that a Quantity Surveyor provides post construction stage of a project:

  • Agreeing final accounts.
  • Ensuring retentions are properly disbursed according to the contract.

Professional Quantity Surveyors should always work independently and liaise with other consultants, clients, and stakeholders to ensure they have full control over the budget.

The Quantity Surveying team at Kaizon strongly believe that engaging a Quantity Surveyor from the start is beneficial, and will ultimately save you time, money and a lot of unnecessary stress.

For all Quantity Surveying enquiries or to find out more about what Kaizon offers, get in touch via: danielle@kaizon.co.nz

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