Quantity surveyors play an important role in the construction industry, managing all of the costs involved in large projects and making sure structures meet building regulations. In this guide, we’ll explore the role in more detail.

What are the main duties of a quantity surveyor?

Quantity surveyors - sometimes called cost consultants, commercial managers or cost engineers - tend to work in an office, but are on site regularly. Their duties may vary depending on their specialism - some quantity surveyors are more involved when a project is being planned and designed, whereas others come on board during the construction phase.

Let’s dive into some of the key tasks a quantity surveyor could be doing on a daily basis.

Contracts and procurement

It’s a quantity surveyor’s job to keep track of variations to each building contract and monitor procurement, ensuring that quality services and contractors are obtained for the best price.

Measuring construction works on-site

Completing regular progress checks and valuing work are a big part of a quantity surveyor’s role. They could be measuring brickwork or roof panels on a construction site, then heading back to the office to calculate that they have enough materials for the rest of the build.

Cost forecasting

It’s vital that a client knows how much each phase of a project will cost. Quantity surveyors gather information about everything that needs to be paid for - from staff time to materials and equipment - and create cost plans to predict the overall budget required, as well as the price of each contract involved. Costs need to become increasingly more accurate as projects near the end.

Monitoring profit and loss

Every project is different and some areas of a build may end up coming in above or below the predicted budget. Quantity surveyors monitor spend regularly throughout a build to ensure that costs are on track.

Liaising with clients, site managers and project managers

Quantity surveying is as much about people as it is about numbers. Surveyors liaise closely with a wide team of site managers and project managers and directly manage relationships with clients, meeting with them regularly to advise on commercial forecasts and risks.

Preparing tender and contract documents

To get the best value for goods and services, quantity surveyors prepare and advertise tenders (or invitations) for competitive bids. They invite contractors to apply for the work before awarding contracts based on the quality of their services and quotes.

Identifying and weighing up commercial risks

The bigger the build, the bigger the financial risk! When costing construction projects, quantity surveyors have to be aware of commercial risks to clients, identifying potential issues and weighing up whether to continue as planned or suggest alternative courses of action.

Ensuring projects meet legal and quality standards

Quantity surveyors make sure structures are of a high quality and meet building regulations, and they have to keep health and safety in mind so that projects meet legal standards.

Submitting regular budget reports

As well as having a head for numbers, quantity surveyors have to be good at completing regular reports to provide evidence to clients and project directors that work is being completed within budget. They produce summaries of monies going in and out and share updated forecasts and predictions.

Is quantity surveyor a good career?

Quantity surveying is a good career for people who have a head for numbers and enjoy variety. It offers fantastic career progression and chartered quantity surveyors can earn higher wages. Every day as a quantity surveyor is different - you could be meeting clients, planning with civil engineers or architects, or measuring work on site.

Is it hard to start a career as a quantity surveyor?

To become a quantity surveyor, you’ll need to have completed an advanced apprenticeship or a degree in quantity surveying or a related subject. These qualifications take at least 3 years to finish and will require dedication and hard work. Once you have your qualifications, you can apply to employers for entry-level jobs and work your way up as your gain new skills and experience.

For more information, check out our handy guide to quantity surveyor qualifications here.

Find out more about a career as a quantity surveyor

Considering becoming a quantity surveyor? Find out more about the qualifications you need for the role and learn about salary expectations and career progression.