What goes on in your mind when you hear the term ‘quantity surveying’? Do you picture someone in a safety helmet holding rolls of blueprints on a construction site? Or perhaps the only thing you know is that they work with quantities.
Well, you’re not far off, but there’s certainly more to the field than that. In fact, there are numerous perceptions about quantity surveying that are either half true or altogether incorrect!
Whether you’re considering a career in quantity surveying or not, here’s what you really need to know about this pivotal role in construction projects.
#1. It’s only about cost management
It’s common to think that quantity surveyors are responsible for cost management. And you wouldn’t be wrong — their key role is to estimate construction projects. But the biggest misconception is thinking that estimating and planning costs is all they do. Quantity surveyors perform other tasks that are equally important to ensure a construction project runs smoothly.
For starters, they are involved in labour-related tasks such as preparing estimates for workers, negotiating work schedules and allocating work to subcontractors. During construction, they’re also responsible for managing risks without compromising health and safety. They also work with clients to draft contract conditions and resolve disputes when issues arise.
In short, cost management is one area performed by a quantity surveyor, but it certainly is not the only one.
#2. It’s a minor role in construction
Architects and engineers often get the credit for a successful construction project. However, the unsung hero is certainly the quantity surveyor.
Quantity surveyors are involved in all phases of a construction project from start to end. They’re the ones who measure how much resources are needed (i.e. materials, time and labour) to get the job done on time and within budget. Providing accurate calculations can reduce delays, minimise risk and ensure the profitability of a project.
After all, construction and engineering projects are fairly expensive endeavours and quantity surveyors play a crucial role in getting maximum quality for minimum cost. Without them, the project is bound to encounter plenty of rework, resulting in increased man hours and costs.
#3. Quantity surveying only requires mathematical expertise
To be clear, you will need to be relatively proficient in maths to be a quantity surveyor. However, the mathematical demands aren’t particularly complex as the majority of the calculations involve computing areas, volumes and weights with some statistics and accounting thrown in.
The truth is that this job requires a lot more than mathematical skill. A key attribute is having an eye for detail. Any careless calculation can cause serious consequences to the project, one where financial losses could occur. Quantity surveyors also need to have good project management skills to ensure a project is completed on time and within budget. Interpersonal and communication skills are also crucial as you’ll need to be able to lead and motivate the workers on site.
So, while numeracy is important, quantity surveying also requires a range of other skills in order for you to succeed in the field.
#4. Anyone can be a quantity surveyor
Think you can just dive into a career in quantity surveying? Think again.
Similar to professions like doctors, lawyers and engineers, the quantity surveying profession is regulated by the Board of Quantity Surveyors Malaysia (BQSM). This means that to be a professional surveyor, you will need to first graduate with a qualification that’s recognised by the BQSM and register yourself as a Registered Graduate Quantity Surveyor.
During your first 2 years of employment, you will be supervised by a Registered Quantity Surveyor or a Member/Fellow of the Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM). Subsequently, you will need to pass a Joint Test of Professional Competence and a professional interview. Upon meeting these requirements only can you finally be a Registered Quantity Surveyor in Malaysia.
#5. The job scope is boring
Looking for something that’s not constrained by routine or the confines of an office desk? You’re looking at the job of a quantity surveyor!
Quantity surveying is far from a “boring office job” due to its unique job nature. You don’t have to worry about staying in the office for long periods of time as your tasks will require you to visit construction sites and oversee the operations regularly. You may even need to travel if your projects are located in other states.
Surveyors also don’t typically work alone, which is good news for those who don’t like working in isolation. They’re often called to act as the medium between different contractors and logistics firms to check on cost estimation. Having initiative and creativity to find solutions that are acceptable to all parties is also part of the gig. So, you can bet that plenty of diplomacy and negotiation will keep you on your toes!
While you can’t avoid paperwork forever, it’s reasonably small in the grand scheme of things.
In conclusion, quantity surveying is a multifaceted profession that offers plenty of benefits. Don’t let simple misconceptions get in the way of realising what you can achieve in the field of surveying.