WHAT does a day in the life of a senior quantity surveyor entail?
A day in the life of a quantity surveyor (QS) on a civil engineering project would include measurement of the previous day's work which had been completed, agreement with resident engineer of any completed day-works and the confirmation of verbal instructions issued by the resident engineer.
The QS also checks if any new drawings have been issued and checks the quantities versus the billed quantities. If there are any variations, the QS will report on how this will affect the final value of the project.
The QS will also keep the drawing register updated and works closely with the quality assurance representative on activities that have been closed off in order to be able to sign off for the final certificate.
The QS would also follow up with all sub-contractors on site to monitor all their work done and work closely with the cost clerks according to defined cost engineering principles.
Why did you decide on this career?
I worked for a project management company in Europe where they had QSs working as their project managers. The QSs measured all the original designs completed by the architects and engineers who were appointed by this company for and on behalf of the client.
How did you get into this career?
I studied at the Peninsula Technikon for the National Higher Diploma (T4) in construction management and quantity surveying after returning from Europe. I had already decided that this was the career I wanted to pursue.
What's challenging about the job?
The most challenging aspect of this profession is being able to add value to the project and the company by bringing in additional revenue over and above your costs of the project.
This would be achieved mostly by monitoring the costs very carefully.
What do you enjoy the most about it?
Finding the extra revenue on a project where no one had expected to find more revenue.
What type of person will make a success of this position?
A person who has a dynamic, outgoing personality and who is very detail-orientated - be it contractual or via specification. A QS is also your "legal advisor" and commercial manager on a project.
What subjects do you need to pass in high school to be able to study towards this career?
You would need to pass mathematics. Accounting and economics would be beneficial as well. It would also be of use if you can read and understand drawings (technical or architectural).
What does one study at tertiary level to be able to get into this career?
At a university of technology you would do a B.Tech in quantity surveying and construction management. At a university you have the option of doing a degree in construction management and quantity surveying, majoring in either construction management or quantity surveying.
What career opportunities exist for a senior quantity surveyor?
There are opportunities: as a QS in the civil engineering contracting field; in the building sector of construction; in real estate; or working for a QS practice starting as a junior quantity surveyor and then progressing upward to become an associate and later even a partner in the practice; as project managers due to their understanding of the financial and commercial aspects of the industry.