Quantity surveyors manage the cost of construction projects. They help to ensure that the construction project is completed within its projected/estimated budget.

As a quantity surveyor, you are responsible for managing all aspects of the contractual and financial side of construction projects.

Regardless of whether you are working for consulting quantity surveying firms, property development firms, contractors or public sector organizations, the successful practice of quantity surveying requires the following essential skills:

1.      Strong Numeracy and Financial Management Skills

A lot of time is spent by the QS, from when the project is initiated to its completion, finding out whether the project will be profitable and managing the costs to fit the agreed budget. This requires a good basic understanding of mathematics and arithmetic to be performed successfully.

Also, the measurement and quantification of building works require numerical skills to perform the task accurately.  Based on these measurements and estimates, the QS is usually tasked with the responsibility of managing all the costs of the projects. Financial management skills come in handy for the QS in project budgeting, contractor payments, valuations and preparation of payment certificates etc.

2.      Ability to Work in a Team

Teamwork is a very important success component especially with the appreciation of the multi-disciplinary nature of the construction industry and construction projects.

Consider large construction projects: a lot of contract documentation (tender documents, bills of quantities, contract conditions, sub-contractor enquiries, etc.) is required from the QS. Great teamwork will facilitate the lead QS in sharing and delegating duties to every member of the consulting group in accordance with each individuals’ strengths and weaknesses. This will help in achieving efficiency in the performance of tasks. The ultimate effect will be felt in the overall performance of the project.

3.      A Good Working Knowledge of Software

The ability to learn sophisticated design and costing IT packages to perform quantity surveying functions will set you apart as a great quantity surveyor in this era of digitization of the construction industry.

Modern quantity surveyors need to learn how to use BIM software and get the most out of all the information technology available to speed up the QS process and help them to be more accurate in the production of cost estimates.

The construction industry is moving towards full adoption of information technologies. In an industry where automation gives you a competitive advantage, having a good working knowledge of the quantity surveying software will be one of your technical strengths as a professional.

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4.      Excellent Relationship Building and Interpersonal Skills

Building and sustaining good relationships with customers and clients greatly affects the performance of a project or construction business.

As a quantity surveyor, building a good relationship with your clients that allows you to better understand their needs puts you in a better position to help and advise them accordingly.

Besides having an excellent knowledge of the construction industry, a QS should possess a practical and logical mind and way of thinking. This way, he is able to explain details to the client and articulately express his opinions in a way that creates a better understanding between him and his clients.

5.      Attention to Detail & Methodological Approach to Work

An eye for detail is acknowledged by Exactal Group Limited as a prerequisite to becoming a good quantity surveyor. Attention to detail is an important skill that helps the quantity surveyor to avoid errors in their work thus promoting accuracy.

The QS should also have an understanding of the professional practice procedures and appropriately follow the laid down practical methodologies in their work.

6.      Communication Skills

Great quantity surveyors possess the ability to write clear and precise reports and to relay complex information in a simple way to a diverse range of people.

Good communication is very vital for anyone in construction due to the nature of the industry that requires the exchange of information.

Where good communication is disregarded, there are likely to occur cost and time overruns in a construction project.

7.      Negotiation Skills

A QS may be working indoors at a consulting office or outdoors at the construction site. Regardless of whether working for yourself, for a consulting firm or for a contractor, the ability to bring other people together in the effort to reconcile their differences is a key success factor.

Contractors’ QS are constantly involved in negotiations with the professional QS/client during the tender stage as they solicit projects for their employers.  Good negotiation skills are also required by consulting QS to convince clients to give them projects.

To become a good negotiator as a QS, you need to have a detailed knowledge of past and current building and construction technology, processes, materials, business and legal matters.

8.      Being Organized

From arranging your desk to the organization of your office; as a quantity surveyor, you need need to be well organized in terms of how and where you store data for future reference. Past bills of quantities, current tender documents and construction drawings, among others are some of the documents that the QS will always need to refer to in order to give timely cost advice to their clients. It is, therefore, important to organize this information well in order to maximize the productivity of the QS by minimizing time wastage when retrieving data/information.

What Next?

Embracing all of the above skills is not the only thing that will necessarily make you a great quantity surveyor.  There are other aspects that you might have found out during your practice that really helps you to stand out in the crowd and differentiate yourself. I would like to hear them too.

Finally, it is important for you as an individual to cultivate the practice of constantly evaluating yourself. Self-evaluation will make you aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This realization then should point you to the members in your team that have a better understanding than you in your area of weakness and endeavour to learn from them. True personal development will require you to appreciate your individual limits and use the opportunities available to learn from others who are better than you.