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The changing role of the Quantity Surveyor

The history of quantity surveying dates back further than you might think, with professional origins tracing back hundreds of years. In fact, the occupation can be traced all the way back to the 17th century during the restoration of London after the Great Fire. Since then, the role of the quantity surveyor has seen many changes, with the modern information age presenting new challenges and opportunities for those in the profession. Here’s how the space is evolving:

Construction evolution

As the construction industry has evolved over time, so too has quantity surveying. Working closely with everyone from architects and developers through to engineers and contractors to provide the best service to the end client, quantity surveyors are a crucial piece of a project puzzle, ensuring the finished product matches up with original design plans – and cost projections. This means trends and patterns in the wider construction industry can have a significant impact on quantity surveyors. For example, as the UK construction sector continues to contract, quantity surveyors have had to deal with reduced budgets and tighter financial restrictions. However, as transport and social infrastructure look set to remain investment priorities in the coming years, quantity surveyors look set to have opportunities for work in this area.

Meanwhile, the push to create more sustainable buildings using renewable resources shows no sign of slowing down. ‘Green building’ is a concept quantity surveyors must adapt to and embrace, with professionals being expected to play a larger role in advising clients on energy and cost savings. Indeed, new roles are emerging for the QS professional in the areas of renewable energy, low carbon technologies and energy management.

Traditional quality assurance aspects of the profession remain imperative, according to Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS) chief executive officer Michael Manikas, but there will be the expectation of added value throughout the construction process. The multi-pronged role of the quantity surveyor in the future will likely include providing advice on procurement methods, contract structures and ways to improve the overall construction process. Those surveyors who can position themselves as advisors and experts within their corner of the construction sector may just be the ones who are most in demand.

Technology heats up

Technology is having an increasing impact on almost every sector imaginable, and quantity surveying is no exception. Traditional bill of quantity applications, such as Masterbill and Buildsoft, are still widely used, but newer processes such as BIM and SAP are becoming commonplace throughout the industry, particularly as the role of QS continues to expand. As new technology and methodologies continue to flood the market, those in the industry need to be able to identify the most useful tools to automate tasks, reduce costs and improve efficiency.

BIM is perhaps the frontrunner when it comes to new processes being used by quantity surveyors. The use of BIM can automate measurement, a key benefit for quantity surveyors and construction professionals. This can speed up the traditional estimating process and improve efficiency and accuracy, with cost estimating potentially made much simpler due to BIM’s ability to link cost information and quantities to building models. However, while its potential to improve processes is significant, BIM’s success relies on an agreed shared set of requirements within the project team, as well as standardised drawings. Quantity surveyors who can harness BIM and other processes and technologies to automate tasks while they focus on other high-value tasks will likely succeed in the digital age.

Take your next step

The future success of quantity surveyors relies heavily on their adaptability and willingness to evolve with industry changes. In addition, traditional skills and experience remain as sought-after by clients as ever. If you’re looking to take the next step in your career, take a look at our quantity surveyor vacancies.

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