Friday 16 July 2010


When I'm not sitting blogging or surfing the net... when I'm not relaxing at home... in other words, when I'm working - I'm a quantity surveyor (QS).

Maybe you have never had anything to do with the construciton industry and maybe you have no idea what a QS does. Well, the clue is in the name... we're kind of like the accountants of the building industry. If you know what a QS is and does you can stop reading here and just give me your sympathy for my billing trials... otherwise, read on.

When a developer wants to construct a building he engages a Design Team - and Architect, a Structural Engineer, a Services Engineer and a QS. When the rest of the design team has finished designing it is our job to measure it up and tell them how much it is going to cost.

During the course of a project we monitor the costs against the original budget, sometimes we administer the contract, we advise how much the contractor should be paid and when the job is done we settle the final account.

The past six weeks we have been preparing a tender. This is the point where the client sends out the design to contractors and after a time they come back with their price to construct the project. A big part of a traditional tender is the billing. This is when the QS sits down with all the drawings and measures up the quantities to enable pricing.

The one we are doing at the moment is "without quantities" which means the contractors get a blank bill. The purpose of the exercise is firstly to interrogate the drawings and make sure that they can be priced, secondly to produce the blank bill and lastly to enable a pre-tender estimate to be completed (giving a benchmark against which to measure tenders).

The problem with billing is there are dozens (and dozens) of drawings, specifications and all sorts of other information that has to be taken on board. It takes several people a lot of time. Half an hour ago I finally finished my measurement (hurrah!). Sadly I'm not done yet as I still have to finish preparing the preliminaries document - this is the instructions that underpin the entire contract and it runs to well over a hundred pages.

Looks like my mountain isn't quite climbed!