Here's how quantity surveyors work to complete the full cycle of a construction project

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Quantity surveyors perform a wide variety of tasks throughout the complete life cycle of a construction project.

They give advice on cost and contractual matters and prepare contract documents. They work with architects and consulting engineers to ensure that their client’s interests are safeguarded.

As professional advisors they give advice to property developers and investors in fixed property. They also assist with the valuation of property for insurance purposes.

Quantity surveyors can also be described as ‘building economists’. The quantity surveyor acts mainly in the area of cost (particularly cost to the client) and is a member of a professional team which may include architects, engineers, and electrical and mechanical engineers, all of whom are appointed to advise their client on various aspects of a particular building project.

Quantity surveyors’ training and experience enable them to offer the following services:

  • Preparation of estimates, feasibility studies and budgets for building projects
  • Preparation of tender documentation for competitive tendering
  • Preparation of plans, contracts, budgets, bills of quantities and other documents
  • Performing risk analysis evaluations
  • Making valuations
  • Negotiation of contracts
  • Advice on contractual arrangements and tender procedures
  • Evaluation of progress on building projects
  • Exercising of cost control during the design and construction phases
  • Settlement of the final costs of the project with the contractor and subcontractors
  • Provide advice and forecasts about costs.

Quantity surveyors may spend a great deal of time on building sites, checking on things being delivered and being constructed. Their offices are sometimes on site, although in most instances their offices are in buildings similar to those that might house architects or civil engineers, for example.

Key skills are commitment, excellent verbal and written language skills, independence, able to work as part of a team and strong numerical and IT skills.

Personal requirements

  • Proficient in speech and writing
  • Work accurately
  • Scrupulous and reliable
  • Mathematical ability and abstract reasoning
  • Practical and persevering
  • Interested in architecture, finances, the building industry and legal aspects of contracts, finance and building

How to enter

Schooling & school subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

What to study

Degree: BSc Quantity Surveying - UJ, UKZN, NMMU, UFS, UCT, UP, Wits.

Those who have completed their degrees must do 2 or 3 years practical work under the supervision of a qualified quantity surveyor. After completing a professional ability test, the candidate can register with the South African Council for Quantity Surveyors.

Diploma: Universities of technology offer a 4-year programme in quantity surveying.

A National Diploma in Building is awarded after 3 years (the first and third year full-time and the second year part-time), and a B Tech Quantity Surveying degree after a further year of full-time study.

Only students who perform sufficiently well are eligible for the degree. CPUT, DUT and TUT offer the programme. Graduates from both universities and universities of technology can advance to full registration as professional quantity surveyors.


  • Government departments
  • Provincial administrations
  • Municipalities
  • Private firms
  • Self-employment, as a consultant

Getting started

  • Try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a firm of quantity surveyors
  • Speak to a quantity surveyor about this career

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