Quantity Surveyor’s Pocket Book

Quantity Surveyor’s Pocket Book

The quantity surveyor is a uniquely British profession, although during the

160 years or so since the fi rst quantity surveyor trod the planet they have man-
aged to convince other countries and construction industries that they are an

indispensable part of the development process.
Much maligned and often misunderstood quantity surveyors have
demonstrated an ability to shrug off the attempts to consign them to the past

and have instead reinvented themselves many times over. In 2008, the UK gov-
ernment took the step of lifting immigration restrictions on non-UK quantity

surveyors as the demand for their skills outstripped supply by almost 5:1.
I have in the past written books that concentrate on the new and emerging
skills that quantity surveyors are now being required to provide for ever more
demanding clients. And yet under the headline services of value management,
risk management, the Private Finance Initiative, etc., there is still a great need
for the quantity surveyor to be able to provide traditional quantity surveying

services. Therefore, this pocket book concentrates on traditional quantity sur-
veyor skills, still so much in demand by clients and contractors alike, but which

have, during the past 20 years or so, not had the emphasis in training and
education that perhaps they warrant.

Demand for construction and civil engineering work can be divided
in broad terms into public and private sectors. Public sector work is
work for any public authority such as:
• Government departments
• Public utilities
• Universities
• The National Health Service, and
• Local authorities.
Private sector work is for a private owner or organisation or for a
private client and includes:
• Work carried out by fi rms on their own initiative
• Work where the private sector carries out the majority of the risk/
Increasingly, the distance between public and private sectors is
disappearing with the introduction of strategies such as the Private
Finance Initiative, which is included in Chapter 4.

The supply side of construction is characterised by the following factors:
• Its unique structure. Statistics produced by the BERR indicate
that in 2008 there were approximately 182,000 fi rms working in plastering. Instead there has been a move towards an assembly
process; for example, the extensive use of timber kits for low and
medium-rise structures

construction. However, only 120 of these had more than 600 em-
ployees, with the greatest majority being small jobbing builders.

This structure makes it diffi cult to introduce new initiatives and
working practices to increase productivity and/or effi ciency. It is
generally only the larger organisations that have the time and
resources to try to bring about change
• About 1.5% of construction fi rms account for approximately 60%
of the workload. The UK structure is not unique and is replicated,
for example, in Australia and North America
• During the past thirty years or so there has been less reliance

on traditional construction trade skills such as bricklaying and


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