We have thought about whether we need a quantity
surveyor for our repair project, but, because we don't really know
what quantity surveyors do, we have gone no further. Should we be
looking for a quantity surveyor? Could you explain what they
ON BUILDING projects, a quantity surveyor is there to control
cost management. Every element of the building project, from
process to materials, has a cost that needs to be included in your
budget: for example, scaffolding, insurance; various trades - from
stoneworker to carpenter, materials, timescales, labourers, access,
delays, and contingencies.
A quantity surveyor will start with a careful look at the
project with your architect. He or she will then work from a scale
plan to estimate the quantities of all aspects of the work, and
give you an estimated or indicative budget. In discussion with the
church, the quantity surveyor will then go through the indicative
budget in detail, and will help, if necessary, to adapt plans to
the reality of the finance available, or to the finance that may
need to be raised for the works.
Sometimes, in dialogue with the architect (and sometimes a
consultant engineer), this will involve changing the plans a
little: using different materials, for example, or a different
building process to bring down the cost. The quantity surveyor, at
this stage, is helping the church to be realistic about the known
and as yet unidentified costs.
By meeting regularly with the church and its design team, the
quantity surveyor will help you to look at any "risks" that may
affect the cost. The works may involve roof repair, and he or she
will want to build in a "contingency", as some of the wooden beams
to which the slate is nailed may have rotted; an estimate may
suggest that 15 or 20 per cent of the wood will need to be
replaced. There may be discussion about the kind of roof insulation
to be used, and the cost comparison will feature in the discussion
to help you make your decision.
Sending out tenders, selecting the best contract, and appointing
the builders are all areas that the quantity surveyor will support.
Builders do not always price out the tender documents (like a
shopping list of works) in the manner that has been requested; so
comparison is difficult. The quantity surveyor sorts this out,
including, on occasion, checking that the prices are realistic, and
that there are no mistakes.
During building works, the quantity surveyor will agree a value
on works completed - once, each month - with the builder; this
process ensures that the monthly invoice from the contractor is
correct. The quantity surveyor will ensure that contingencies are
not exceeded, and that the final figures on cost are correct.
If your building works are significant - more than £50,000, say
- you may be well advised to have a quantity surveyor on your team.
If you are working with a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for repairs,
it may be a condition of the grant that you have a quantity
surveyor on board.
It is normally advisable to interview and appoint a quantity
surveyor who is independent of the architect's practice, and is
interviewed and appointed directly by the church, not subcontracted
through the architect.
Names of suitable quantity surveyors may be gleaned from other
churches, the secretary of the diocesan advisory committee
secretary, and your architect.
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