Introduction”A quantity surveyor is an expert in the art of costing a building at all stages of its life” (RICS, 2015).
They are highly trained and are able offer expert advice on the cost of construction and are ultimately essential for procurement, tendering and contract administration. The role of the Quantity Surveyor is mainly divided into two sections, the contractor Quantity Surveyor and the Client based Quantity Surveyor. However, a QS may choose to work in several other fields but most work in either private practice (PQS) or commercial (CQS).
Usually, but not exclusively, these two sections work in unison with one another to manage construction projects in a cost-efficient manner for both parties, contractor and client, and although they have the same title, the work done varies significantly. Although the responsibility to manage the contractual relationships of the project and manage finances is the same, both contractor and client Quantity Surveyors have slightly different workloads. FindingsPrivate Quantity SurveyorA private practice QS is a client based Quantity surveyor, also known as a private quantity surveyor (PQS). According to Duncan Cartlidge (2017) “The conventional model for Quantity Surveying firms in Private practice is to trade as a sole practitioner or as a partnership.” Their role covers a range of activities which may include cost planning, in which the QS would provide the client with a snapshot of the estimate to build the project and any changes to the budget as the job evolves. They are also responsible for “value management, feasibility studies, cost benefit analysis, lifecycle costing, tendering, valuation, dispute resolution and cost estimating.” (Streetwise Subbie, 2018).
They work directly with the client to ensure a smooth build of their project. Where possible, ensuring that the project sticks to the specified budget outlined by the client. This can be an especially difficult job, as unexpected problems often emerge throughout construction, all of which have a varying degree of financial implications. The PQS also is responsible for providing the client with financial statements which give them an indication of exactly what money is being spent where.
This sort of analysis allows the client to get to grips on where within the project the most money is being spent, and if they want to reduce the cost to build, where they can do so. As the job nears completion, these financial statements are used to begin the process of preparing the final account for the project. According to the RICS, “A final account is the conclusion of the contract sum (including all necessary adjustments) and signifies the agreed amount that the employer will pay the contractor”. The final account is usually the last major role of the PQS on each certain project, and signifies the project, at least the build stage, coming to an end. This is not always the end of the project as a whole however, as problems and maintenance works often continue long after the scheduled completion. This is where lifecycle costing comes into play and the PQS will use this to budget for these continued works.
The role of the PQS has slowly evolved to also include the appraisal of possible investments or developments, giving advice on cost limits and budgets as well as whole life costing and risk analysis. An example of a firm with client based QS’s would be Monaghan’s, who work to offer a service to clients for their projects. An example of there clients are TK Maxx, Premier Inn and Next Plc.
The work Monaghan’s would be expected to do for these clients usually centres around fitting out new stores. Contractor Quantity Surveyor (CQS)A major contractor Quantity Surveyors job largely centres around the management of contracts, and managing sub-contractors who are hired to complete different sections of work. By major contractor, this usually means a large company, such as Vinci Construction UK Ltd. These companies usually work on large scale construction projects which involve the whole project, from laying the foundations to painting the walls. They will first bid to obtain the project, from whoever wants the project completing, whether this be private or public sector. This could be a local council or an external company such as UPP, who have recently began constructing student accommodations throughout the UK. The contractors, such as Vinci, will give a price to on what it will cost to complete the entire project, the lowest price, within reason, usually wins. The contractor then takes control of the project, and will divide the work amongst different sub-contractors who the contractor sources.
This begins with the contractor QS assessing which works need doing and the value of this work. They then send out invitations to tender to several sub-contractors who will in turn value the work and submit their price to complete the work. By getting several sub-contractors to do this, it is often the case the the QS is able to gain a lower price for the work to be completed by creating competition between them. If one sub-contractor is desperate for the work, they will often give a very good quote for the work, allowing the QS to obtain their services at the very lowest cost. Once this has been completed the QS will issue an Instruction to commence to the Sub-contractor. It is then the job of the QS to pay and manage the work carried out by the Sub-contractor. This is the primary role of the CQS within the project, and they manage this on a month to month basis, continually assessing the work completed by the sub-contractor to ensure that they are not only sticking to schedule, but also get paid accurately according to the work which they have completed.
This is known as valuations for interim payments and is usually in correspondence between the sub-contractor Quantity Surveyor and the CQS. Besides this, other roles of the CQS can include, similarly to the PQS, final account preparation but also CVR, which stands for Cost Value Reconciliation. “Cost Value Reconciliations (CVR) are carried out in order to monitor and measure expenditures against budgets on construction projects” (Kenny Telfer, 2017). It is completed every few months and is done for every package on the project and is used to assess whether or not the project is under, over or on budget, and if over, where specifically costs have outweighed what was originally estimated. The CVR is essentially a short term final account, and when the time comes, will become the Final Account for the contractor firm and is used to assess whether the project has been a success for the contractor and to see how much, if any, profit has been made.
Curriculum Vitae Analysis and Career Progression In terms of my career, I currently hold the role of a Trainee Quantity surveyor for Vinci Construction UK and so my career is likely to progress down the Contractor Quantity Surveyor route, eventually progressing to being a commercial manager. Progression from commercial manager follows the pattern of Senior Commercial manager, this then leads to Regional Commercial Manger. Although not impossible, it is realistically unlikely for me to progress further than Regional Commercial Manager.
In order for me to maximise my career progression, it would be vital for me to become a chartered QS with RICS. This is due to the fact that this could potentially open up new doors for my career outside that of my current employer. It would also put me in good stead to progress higher up the ladder than that of Regional Commercial Manager, if I felt this was right for me. To gain a wide variety of experience, it could prove useful to at some point in my career spend time working as a PQS, as this would open my eyes to how both areas of Quantity Surveying operate. From the information I have gathered, I personally find CQS to be more interesting and less repetitive than that of the PQS. As a CQS, you spend much more hands on time on building sites and get to see first hand what your work is contributing to. As a PQS, your time is spent more in dealing with the client than it is on building sites. It is essentially your job to be constantly consulting with the client, assessing finances and ensuring they are happy with the progress of the project.
While this is also part of the CQS role, it is usually the case that once the client has issued you with a specification of the products they want using and how they want it to be build, you take charge of the progress and consult on a much less regular basis than that of a PQS. To assess my CV, I would say the strengths are that it is compact and gets across all relevant information in a manner which is easy to digest. This means that those reading my CV will not get bored, meaning the entire of my CV will be read, as opposed to only small part of it. This is likely to increase my chances of being considered for the role. Besides this, I also feel that my CV is presented very well and in an easy to read manner.
There is adequate space between each session and it is clear to see in a professional font. This makes me appear to be a sensible and professional candidate, and one which takes time to carefully present their work. Despite this, I would say there are a few weaknesses to my CV, one being the fact that my previous experience is not all necessarily relevant to the job that I am applying for.
Despite experience in the construction industry in the work I have done with my father, the main area of work experience for me is in retail, something vastly different to the construction industry with very few, if any similarities between that and the job I am applying for. Besides this, my keen interest and the level of Rugby League I play could be off putting to employers, and lead them to feel as though that will take priority over my career, while this is not the case, it is easy to see why this could be believed and so therefore could pose me problems in terms of being successful and securing the job. ConclusionTo conclude, the role of a PQS and that of a CQS essentially varies on the fact that while a a PQS works directly for the client, the CQS works for the invested interests of their own company. The PQS wants to ensure that the project their client wants completing stays within budget, and to the required standard, whereas a CQS is assessed on the financial outcome of the project, alongside quality of the build. Ultimately, a PQS works directly with the client and is aiming to please them and a CQS works for a contractor completing the works, and so the focus for them is to, while sticking to specifications, ensure the project is completed as cheaply as possible, so to maximise profit for their company.