If you are interested in surveying as a career, you may be confused about the difference between a building surveyor and a quantity surveyor. Both are professions within the construction industry that conduct surveys of buildings as part of construction projects, but they are not the same.  

Find out more below. 

What is a building surveyor? 

A building surveyor advises clients about the design and construction of properties and buildings, undertakes property surveys and produces detailed reports and recommendations. A building surveyor understands building regulations and can provide advice about maintenance and repairs that might be needed on an existing property. They offer advice on legal and planning issues, prepare budgets and advise on environmental and safety issues.  

What is a quantity surveyor?

A quantity surveyor is responsible for estimating costs, quantities, materials and labour timescales for building projects. They prepare Bills of Quantities and tender documents that provide forecasts for projected work, ensure projects meet legal and quality standards and advise on the maintenance costs of specific buildings. Fundamentally, quantity surveyors try to ensure that clients get value for money and the price they pay for quantities and materials is reasonable and accurate.  

What are the key differences between quantity surveyors and building surveyors?

The main difference between a quantity surveyor and building surveyor is that a quantity surveyor deals with the costings of a construction project, while a building surveyor is more concerned with the physical building itself. Quantity surveyors estimate how much the building materials and labour will cost, whereas a building surveyor keeps track of how the construction is meeting the client’s brief, including if it passes building regulations or has any structural faults.  

A building surveyor will spend the majority of their working days at construction sites, but quantity surveying involves far more time in the office environment, looking at drawings and specifications. Quantity surveyors do visit construction sites but only a fraction of the time a building surveyor does.  

Making the right career decision between the two 

Deciding whether to be a building surveyor or quantity surveyor will depend first and foremost on what skills you have. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius, but if you have a sound head for figures and are good at analytical thinking, and an interest in building and construction, then a career as a quantity surveyor may be for you.  

However, if you want your work to be focused more on the nitty gritty of the buildings themselves, have a great attention to detail, an inquiring mind and enjoy meeting clients and contractors, perhaps becoming a building surveyor is a better choice.  

Find a surveying apprenticeship at Talentview

Find out more about a career in surveying

Whether you choose building surveying or quantity surveying, there are plenty of common elements between the two careers. You’ll certainly need a hard hat from time to time! Go Construct has lots more information about surveying, from quantity surveying qualifications  to job profiles and typical job interview questions.