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Ankita Sharma
September 28, 2016

Do you have what it takes to be a great Quantity Surveyor?

The term quantity surveyor can sound misleading—it almost belies the responsibility and work that goes into the role. A well-qualified, competent quantity surveyor can bring incredible value to any project that they are part of.

Involvement That Goes All The Way

Ideally, a quantity surveyor is involved in the project from even from before the conceptualization phase—their involvement begins at the stage when a developer first thinks of a building project; their role extends to much beyond just doing quantity take-offs (this is a common misconception). At the very start of the project, a quantity surveyor gets the project brief from the client (even if the brief is little more than a statement of intent at this point) and analyses it from a number of perspectives, working with the client to determine the feasibility of the project and to provide a range of possibilities available to the client. Some of the factors taken into consideration during this stage may include the purpose of the construction, the financial policy, health and safety requirements and aesthetic sensibilities.


Both during the intensive pre-construction and the following post-construction phases of project execution, the quantity surveyor has to stay on top of things. From making sure that the project is feasible to begin with to putting a stop to activities that don't fall within or exceed the project scope, the quantity surveyor often acts as a conscience-keeper. The scope of their own work often extends across the duration of the project. In order to evaluate whether or not certain activities are in line with the final vision for the project, the quantity surveyor needs to have a working knowledge of almost every discipline involved in construction. Their responsibility is to make sure that projects don't encounter cost overruns (or the resultant time overruns). They ensure that the project is profitable.

A Wide Array Of Skills

The quantity surveyor is often the first person to get involved in a project. He or she should be able to tell the client what aligns best with their business objectives, as well as being able to predict problems that can arise during the process—and provide strategic solutions.

To fulfil their role requirements, the quantity surveyor needs a wide array of skills. Besides technical skills, a number of behavioural skills are also essential to the job. Even the most technically skilled quantity surveyor will have trouble progressing in their career if they do not learn supplementary skills that can prove invaluable—such as leadership qualities, an understanding of industry dynamics and a range of interpersonal skills.

Since the work of a quantity surveyor is across the project life-cycle, they will undoubtedly have to work with people from all disciplines. Besides having some level of knowledge of the different disciplines, the quantity surveyor also needs to be able to communicate effectively in order to win people over and get things done. Their role is often to provide the right advice at the right point in time. This process becomes much smoother through the appropriate integration of interpersonal skills and conflict-resolution techniques.

A Bright Future

In many parts of the world, CEOs of construction firms often come from a quantity surveying background. It is a challenging, multi-faceted role that ultimately provides a complete picture of the project. There is also a dearth of qualified and well-trained professionals in the Indian construction market. Once equipped with the proper education and a sense for what is truly required of this role, the opportunities for a professional in the quantity surveying field are limitless.