This is a question I get asked all the time. A Quantity Surveyor (Q.S.) is a technical accountant. We look after the finances on a construction project, however there are 2 main types of QS, one that represents the client (Professional QS or PQS) and one, as I do, who specialise in being a contractor’s QS. The former deals with feasibility studies, cost plans or budgets and advises his client and the latter, like me deal with the procurement and managing of contractors/subcontractors and the variations on site.
People get confused about what a Chartered Surveyor does. Well everyone that is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors can call himself or herself chartered. Therefore you have Chartered Quantity Surveyors, Chartered Building Surveyors etc. In the RICS there are a number of surveyors with different expertise, like General Practice, Land Surveyor, Building Surveyor and so on.
QSs are not Engineers, nor do we value properties (big misconception). We are not a project manager, although many QSs do go on to be Project Manager.
We sometimes get called ‘bean counters’ and we sometimes actually do count bricks. I don’t normally work out the quantities to order materials like bricks as I leave that to the contractor but I can measure the amount of brickwork, concrete, timber skirtings and so on when I am required to.
QSs also have other functions like:
- advising on contractual matters and client/contractor risks
- advising on suitable forms of contract
- sorting out difficult Final Account issues
- settlement of claims.