5 Common Pitfalls of Quantity Surveying and How We Avoid Them

Quantity Surveying is one of the brightest areas of our expertise spectrum, and never having a claim made against us is the result of starting on a solid basis from our surveying. We understand that this is where transparency with our clients is ensured, where the awareness of all parties is defined, and where risk mitigation and work progress speed up is based on.

Through our experience working in large-scale projects as quantity surveyors, we have deduced on the elements that make up a successful work on that area, as well as the common traps and pitfalls that we need to avoid. Here is a list of five of the most common of these pitfalls and how we at KEN International manage to overcome them.

1.) Problem: “Taking it Lightly”
We have seen engineering teams prepare BoQ documents in their own unique way and method, causing confusion to the collaborating companies and incompatibilities in the long term. This is mainly due to the fact that many believe the quantity surveying is something that you “submit and forget about”. They simply take it lightly, wrongfully believing that its only purpose is to win a collaboration contract.

What we do instead:
We understand that BoQ concerns both the pre-contract stage and the post-contract stage. We prepare different sections for the architects, consultants, clients, other QS engineers, and contractors, and we use standard and international accepted templates that maintain absolute compatibility with all relevant software and systems. In the post-contract stage, our BoQ serves as an administration and payment progress evaluation tool, risk factor evaluation tool, and a legal document of utmost importance. That said, we pay attention to the construction, building codes, and OSHA laws/regulations that underpin the planned work, and we prepare our documents with respect to and compliance with these.

2.) Problem: “Not Paying Attention to the Details”
We have seen surveying work that doesn’t define the scope of the work clearly, being based on inadequately planned estimates which results in duplicate items, missing specifications in minor items, and including that vague and almost frightening “overhead construction costs” that can even constitute up to 20% of the total project cost.

What we do instead:
When we do the quantity surveying, we leave no gray areas in the scope of the work, the specifications, the estimates, and all of the rest of the planning details that are required for the achievement of an absolutely accurate result. We call for meetings with the stakeholders and first clarify all of the above before proceeding any further, so the scope of the work is thoroughly defined even in the cases of varying scopes. Moreover, the “construction overhead” is analyzed and detailed, as it is part of the cost estimation and efficiency application for us. That said, we estimate, evaluate, and try to optimize it accordingly through preliminary proposals.

3.) Problem: “Being Subjective”
Quantity Surveyors are often plagued by subjectivity, and this is understandable as biased thinking is part of human nature. This leads to bad decisions though or at least doesn’t lead to the absolute best decisions. This is what makes up bad engineering practice, and most importantly infuses a mentality that makes inefficiency an acceptable fact.

What we do instead:
For us, success can only be manifested as absolute efficiency in terms of cost and time. For this reason, we evaluate our collaborators, material suppliers, part vendors, equipment renting agencies, and all contractors and subcontractors on a new basis each time. Of course, we take into account successful collaborations of the past, and that is why we keep records, but this is only one factor of our judgment when evaluating the optimal/best collaborators in each project. This way, we are maintaining our efficiency, our ethical conduct against our clients, and our objectiveness.

4.) Problem: “Not Keeping Up with the Developments”
Many Quantity Surveyors out there think that their previous experience alone is enough for them to excel in their professional field, and up to a certain point in time they were right. However, technological developments are shaping the world that we live in, and quantity surveying is not left out of this. If you fail to keep up with the latest developments in the field, you are quickly left behind.

What we do instead:
Simply put, our Quantity Surveyors attend seminars, workshops, conferences and online training courses throughout the year. We are constantly keeping up to date with the latest developments, cutting-edge tools, and most advanced methodologies used in quantity surveying, and we are always a step ahead and ready to transpose this benefit to our clients. RICS, CPD in Surveying, QS 2018, BIM, and FIDIC are a couple of certification examples achieved by our employers during the past two years.

5.) Problem: “Not Accepting or Seeking for Advice”
Engineering is all about sharing knowledge and strengthening our understanding, but unfortunately, many players in this field do not like to share knowledge and neither do they seek for the advice of others. This leads to informational stagnation, low decision performance, and scientific and professional isolation.

What we do instead:
Whilst others see asking for advice as a declaration of weakness, we see it as an asset and advantage. We maintain a large network of collaborators, partners and associates who are experienced experts in their respective fields. This enables us to take insightful information on specific issues regarding quantity surveying, gather and evaluate invaluable relevant data beforehand, and finally get better prepared for unforeseeable risks.