Quantity Surveying / Commercial Engineering – Engineering or Accounting?

Shaurov Sheikh
B.Sc in Civil (AUST), MBA (AIUB)
Senior Executive, Cost Control
Max Infrastructure Limited

The said terms are relatively new to the construction sector of Bangladesh. This position is mostly required in big/mega projects to liaise with the Client and the Consultant about the Payment Claims, Contractual Obligations and other Financial related issues connected to the Construction.
Quantity Surveying is the link between Construction & Accounting in a larger project. They basically quantify the work scope, estimate the work volume and all the costs related to the construction before starting the work physically. So the company knows how much they have to spend for the specific works and what resources are required to do that. They also manage the contractual relationships between the involved parties of a particular project.
Quantity Surveyors closely work with the construction engineers, design engineers, contractors, suppliers, accountants and the employer. The main goal of a quantity surveyor is to provide exact information on costing from the working drawing and how to minimize the cost without compromising the quality of works.
The demand of quantity surveyors in the world is growing especially in developing countries. It is in the best demands with less supply in the developing countries. In most of our mega projects the companies tend to hire Chief QS/ Commercial Manager from abroad for the in depth knowledge and experience in this sector. In Bangladesh we also have a number of young quantity surveyors who are growing through the ladder.


The very first job of a quantity surveyor is to estimate. When the tender drawing is finalized/received the Construction company have to submit a bid. To prepare the bid Quantity Surveyor plays a major role. First of all, the drawings need to be quantified as scope of work. The QS has to estimate all the work scope from the drawings and make a cost breakdown for each item following the methods. To do that a QS requires to have knowledge in few things
-Visualization of the works from the drawings
-Noticing any mistakes in drawings which effects very much on quantity
-Collaboration with Planning & Construction team about the required material, labor and equipment to finish specific works.
-Updated knowledge about all the required materials, labor and equipment.

Bill of Quantity

After completing the all the estimations, the quantity surveyor has to prepare a Bill of Quantity where it shows work description, total quantity of the specific work, unit cost to finish the unit of work and total cost to complete the work. The QS have to determine all the work scope in this format. The BOQ will play a massive role while claiming a bill in IPC (Interim Payment Certificate).


One of the major responsibilities of a QS is to prepare the IPC to submit to the employer for cash flow. The most common practices of submitting IPC is monthly. IPCs are being prepared according to the Bill of Quantity (BoQ) item wise. The Contractor has to justify the quantity either from drawing or from site measurement with the signature of a representative of the Consultant before submitting to the Employer. The QS must follow planning team and construction team about the completed works and proper documentation of the completion.


If the drawings or working scope is added or changed from what it is written on the tender, then the Contractor has the write to claim for the added or changed portion of work. To do so A QS must prepare the proper proof of the change, prepare both quantity estimation and cost breakdown for the work which justifies the current market rate.


QS also should check all the quantities and rates claimed by the Subcontractors and Suppliers must not exceed the BOQ Items. The comparison is very much required for the cash flow management. However, for some items the contractor has to pay more to the subcontractor than the BOQ items because the price escalation was unexpected. Timely payment to the stakeholders is a great way to motivate them and keep the work going on without delay.


QS should always keep in touch with Site Construction work and check regularly if all the works done are claimed from the Employer or not, if there is any work which is out of BOQ.


Another major roles of a QS are to manage the cash flow and budget. The budget is usually calculated based on the designs, but it might be re-evaluated because of many factors related to construction. For that QS should always monitor the money earned and money spent. A QS should forecast the cost of coming months according to planning team and the money can be earned from the employer which we call cash flow. Monitoring the cash flow is a vital part to keep the project on time, so that there isn’t any shortage on resources required to keep the work going.


The QS have to work as a contract manager at times to negotiate and solve disputes with the stakeholders. If certain change of work affect cost the QS must act as a Contract Manager and find a solution which is beneficial for all the parties involved. Contract Management is a separate department in larger projects which correlates with QS department.


Risk management actually comes from experience. Experienced manager recalls the problem faced in previous projects and take necessary steps accordingly. The new managers also have to look for potential risks involving weather, political situation, environmental issues and notify the top management beforehand.


As the QS determines the required material for a specific work, he needs to be involved in the purchasing process. The QS should determine the specifications according to contract and sent out information and asks quotation from different suppliers with samples. The QS along with Material Engineer should negotiate with the winning bidder after deciding the best value for money.


There are two types of quantity surveyors as given below:

Consultant / Professional Quantity surveyor:
A Consultant / Professional QS works on behalf of Client’s cost. He reports to client about all the probable costs and claims by the Contractor. He evaluates Contractor’s claim, justifies it before reporting to the client. Apart from these he shares his thoughts with client about cost minimizing, valuation, cost planning, cost-benefit analysis and dispute resolution.
Contractor’s Quantity Surveyor / Construction Estimator:
The Contractor’s QS mainly does the cost estimation of the project, helps with planning, regular checking with the project, claiming bills to the client, identifies variation order.
He works closely with the Project Manager as well as the company owners to give them accurate information about the financial status like cash flow, budget, cost-budget analysis etc.

Academic Requirements:
Back to degrees, undergraduate programs in quantity surveying or commercial management are the most common route to becoming a quantity surveyor.
-Building or Construction
-Civil Engineering
-Project Management
-Structural Engineering
Skills Required:
-Understanding of engineering science and technology
-Ability to use your initiative
-Strong math knowledge
-Excellent attention to detail
-Analytical thinking skills
-Thorough and good attention to detail
-Knowledge of building and construction
-Project management skills
-Resilience, determination and the ability to work well under pressure
-Good commercial awareness
-A practical, logical and methodical approach to work.

In Bangladesh, we lack experts in this sector, so a lot of people are hired from abroad. But lot of talented young Engineers are making their way up to the top. It takes time and experience to be a good QS Engineer/Commercial Engineer/ Contract Manager. Hope we can build a great future in this sector and we can use this expertise abroad too.

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *