What is a Quantity Surveyor?

construction site


What does a Quantity Surveyor do?

what is a quantity surveyor?

Are you building or renovating a home, or involved in the planning or budgeting of a commercial construction project and have been advised to appoint a Quantity Surveyor? If you don’t know what one is, or why you need one, read on to find out!

Quantity surveyors are construction industry professionals that oversee construction projects; managing risks and controlling costs. They manage the financial and legal aspects of a construction contract and represent, or look after the Clients interests.

Some of the roles performed by a Quantity Surveyor are:

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


What is a Chartered
Quantity Surveyor?

According to RICS (the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) Chartered Quantity Surveyors are ‘.. a surveyor who has gained, and consistently demonstrates, a high level of skill or competence in their field of work, recognised by the award of formal accreditation from RICS…They are essential for life cycle costing, cost planning, procurement and tendering, contract administration and commercial management. A Chartered Quantity Surveyor may be involved as a specialist in one area or generalise in several over the course of a project. They may also specialise in a particular area such as residential or retail.”

If you need a Quantity Surveyor, the best place to find one is on the RICS website. This ensures you appoint a Chartered surveyor and one that is someone highly qualified and registered as being an expert in their field. Additionally, the RICS Find a Surveyor tool enables you to find a Quantity Surveyor in your town, postcode, or to find someone by their business name – this is also a great way to validate the credentials of someone you have already spoken to.

Two Quantity Surveyors at work

What does a Quantity Surveyor

As outlined above, there are many different roles performed by surveyors. In addition to appointing a Chartered Surveyor, the best outcome for your project will be achieved by finding someone who has:

  • Relevant industry knowledge
  • Experience and knowledge of the local area and suppliers
  • Experience with your type of construction project


Saunders Quantity Surveyors’ experience spans many industries, but we have especially deep, industry-specific experience and knowledge in the following key verticals:

  • Large-scale residential
  • Defence & nuclear
  • Industrial manufacturing
  • Residential care homes
  • Conservation and historic buildings


Having industry-specific experience and knowledge enables your Quantity Surveyor to hit the ground running; leading to both time and cost efficiencies.

Next we’ll take a look at two of our specialisms in detail, as these are two key roles played by a Quantity Surveyor.

Quantity Surveyor
example specialisms

1: Employers Agent

The role of Employer Agent (or EA as it’s often referred to), has become more important in recent years due to the increase in use of design and build procurement within the construction industry. The ‘agent’ (the Quantity Surveyor) acts on behalf of the client as the contract administrator for the works being carried out on design and build projects.

Our Employers Agent experts have gained extensive experience of undertaking this service and of advising on the suitability of design and build and its strengths and weaknesses. We are proud to cite BAE Systems, Britain’s largest defence contractor in Europe (ranked the seventh-largest in the world!) among the clients who trust us. 

We’ve also got Employers Agent experience with large-scale residential projects and in particular enjoyed the challenges associated with a project recently completed in Manchester City centre. Here, an extremely compact site with extensive ground remediation consisting of many underground retaining walls and basements made for a very interesting project! Read more about it here!

If your construction project presents some complexity, it’s worth taking the time to find a Quantity Surveyor who has worked on similar projects – most will have a Case Study section on their website, and can provide references if you ask.

2. Consultant Quantity Surveyor Services

You’ll notice here we say we are ‘Consultant’ Quantity Surveyors – this is an important distinction to understand.

A consultant Quantity Surveyor focuses on cost control to benefit the client, whereas a contractor’s Quantity Surveyor manages the supply chain, whilst aiming to maximise profits for the contractor.

Good Consultant Quantity Surveying places an emphasis on achieving value for money for clients, whilst delivering service excellence. We provide advice on the economics of design and materials that enable informed decisions to be made on all kinds of  construction projects. 


Quantity Surveyor Tasks

Here are some examples of tasks we perform:

  • Preparation of feasibility estimates and budgets at the earliest stage of the project and ongoing cost advice as the project moves forward
  • Advice on suitable procurement routes tailored to the Client’s needs, funding, and attitude to risk
  • Contractor selection
  • Preparation of bills of quantities and schedules of work
  • Analysing and reporting on tenders
  • Preparation of detailed contract documents using JCT, NEC, PCC, or other bespoke agreements
  • Carrying out interim valuations during construction
  • Cost reporting and financial updates
  • Cost control and monitoring throughout the duration of the project
  • Providing advice on construction contract procedures and disputes
  • Value engineering and value management
  • Risk management

Lastly, you might be wondering whether to go with a big name Quantity Surveyor or  a smaller, local service. Whilst using a well-known company has its advantages, we believe the use of a boutique Quantity Surveyor ensures a more personalised approach.  We work closely with clients and all members of the design team, at every stage of the project and have an eagle-eye for detail and excellence; all of which has earnt us a repeat business rate of over 95%!

If you would like a free, no obligation consultation on your construction project, please contact us today!