Building Surveyor vs.
Quantity Surveyor


Building Surveyor Vs Quantity Surveyor - what's the difference?

Quantity Surveyor &
building surveyor intro

From large-scale residential projects (think hundreds of apartments with underground parking, playgrounds for children and shops) to smaller projects like the restoration of a listed building, Building Surveyors and Quantity Surveyors both play pivotal roles in any construction project. But what’s the difference between a Building Surveyor and a Quantity Surveyor? 

Here at Saunders Quantity Surveyors, we get asked this a LOT, so we thought a quick blog post might be useful! Understanding the difference between these two roles is also of course important for those considering a career in either of these fields. So, let’s dive in!

Building Surveyor Vs. Quantity Surveyor:

The easiest way to understand the difference between these two construction industry specialisms is to understand the difference between what the roles are primarily concerned with. Let’s first look at Building Surveyors.

In a nutshell, Building Surveyors are concerned with the technical and quality aspects of both property and construction. 

Here are some of the functions of a Building Surveyor:

  • Evaluate condition of an existing building and any defects
  • Advise on alterations and extensions of existing properties
  • Consult on Health & Safety aspects of buildings
  • Advise on environmental concerns
  • Advise on legal and planning matters, as well as deal with any planning applications and processes


Quantity Surveyors however, are concerned with the financial aspects of a construction project.

A good example of this distinction is that a Building Surveyor is qualified to diagnose problems in a building and specify the necessary remedial works in the same way that an architect specifies things. The QS does not specify, but is required to understand the necessary work to carry out their function in relation to cost

There are lots of different services provided by a Quantity Surveyor, and you can read more about them in the ‘Services’ section of our website, but here follows a brief overview:

  • Client liaison and collaboration with Engineers, Architects and other construction professionals
  • Preparation of initial budget cost estimates to advise the Client on funding
  • Creation of cost, material and time estimates 
  • The preparation of tender and contract documents
  • Identification and mitigation of risks (see this article for more detail on risk management)
  • Negotiation on pricing; including any variations or changes and agree final costs
  • Monitoring of client projects to ensure they are completed on time and within budget
  • Financial viability assessments
  • Construction Contract Administration


Quantity Surveying Vs Building Surveying
Day to day career differences

The main difference here is time on the construction site – this is a pretty good way to determine which job is best for you! Whilst on-site time is a big part of what a Quantity Surveyor does, their time on site is usually less than that of a Building Surveyor who, according to RICS spends ‘…plenty of time on site evaluating specific elements of buildings and examining environmental issues, for example.’ 

A love of teamwork, hard hats and steel toe-capped boots might come in handy if this sounds like the kind of job you’d like! There will be plenty of time spent on the construction site and in fact this may often take up the majority of your working week. That’s not to say there isn’t some time spent in the office, especially when managing planning applications and the associated processes, which can be both complex and time consuming! 

A Quantity Surveyor on the other hand, will often spend time on site in the initial stages of a construction project, as well as performing intermittent site visits to monitor the project. They are not usually on-site on a day-to-day basis but are likely to spend a lot of time with clients in meetings or on the phone.

If you want to find out more about a career as a Building Surveyor, including what ‘soft skills’ a Building Surveyor needs to have, this RICS article is a great resource for those considering this career.

RICS also have a great resource for those considering a career as a Quantity Surveyor

building surveyor vs quantity surveyor

So, we hope this clarifies what the difference is between a Building Surveyor and a Quantity Surveyor!

If you are in need of a Quantity Surveyor, please do give us a call or drop us an email today.