Jul 31

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hiring a Construction Cost Estimator / Quantity Surveyor


A construction cost estimator is a professional who prepares cost estimates for your building plans. This professional also provides contract management during the building phase, overseeing the valuation of work done and managing costs until the final account is negotiated and settled at the end of the project.

If you are a client who intends to carry out a building project, you have a choice of hiring a construction estimator to handle the project. Your duty as a client is to finance the project and make payments when they are needed. The decision of hiring a quantity surveyor depends on your willingness to successfully complete the project and the success of a project depends on how it is managed.

Here are the pros and cons of hiring a construction estimator:

Advantages of Hiring an Estimator

Accurate Cost Projections

When you hire an Estimator, he or she will prepare the anticipated cost projections for your building project. The consultant will furnish you with an accurate cost estimate that allows you to plan your budget in advance before work commences.

Securing Finance

When you get a cost estimate, you can use the estimate to get a loan from the bank. Most Bank Managers will not give you a loan unless you have a detailed cost estimate from a professional quantity surveyor. Your estimate should be part of your business plan, since a business plan is often required to convince the Manager when applying for a bank guarantee.

Ordering Materials from Suppliers

Instead of asking a building contractor to give you a quote for building a house, you should ask an independent Estimator to give you a cost estimate to avoid being overcharged. After getting the cost estimate, you should take the estimate to suppliers of building materials so that they can calculate quantities based on your estimate. This procedure helps you avoid waste due to excess orders.

Saving Costs

Most of the time, people are not aware that they can save money by hiring an estimator. The mistake that some clients make is relying completely on the building contractor to handle the project. What they don’t realize is that the contractor is out there to make profit, and nothing will stop the construction firm from taking advantage when it comes to making claims. You need a Quantity Surveyor to manage your contractor, and protect you from being ripped off. The Quantity Surveyor’s fee is nothing compared to the money you will lose to a dominant contractor.

Project Completion Time

One of the tasks of an Estimator is to ensure that the project is finished on time. An estimator often acts as the Project Manager, supervising the contractor and monitoring progress on site. Penalties are applied when avoidable delays are made.

Enforcing the Building Contract

A cost estimator is a contract management agent who sees to it that clauses in the building contract are followed. Before a project is awarded to the winning bidder, the contractor has to sign the contract documents and agreements that contain procedures for handling disputes and payments, among other things.

Claims and Disputes

A quantity surveyor is trained to handle claims and disputes arising during the course of the project. Equipped with contract management expertise, he or she solves disputes by quoting clauses in the prevailing agreements. Disputes related to payments, valuations, measurements and Bills of Quantities are perfectly handled by a QS who is well versed in this area.


Disadvantages of Hiring an Estimator

Awareness Issues

Some clients are not aware of the role of a quantity surveyor. When a client doesn’t understand the importance of quantity surveying services, they will overlook or under-estimate the service.

Solution: The QS must explain the service being offered and educate the client before proceeding with the service. In most cases, a client’s eyes are opened to the value of estimating after a 30 minute Q&A session.

Estimator Fees and Charges

A client may want the services of an estimator but due to budget constraints, they may not be willing to pay for the services. Just like somebody who needs to hire a lawyer, they know that their chances of winning a case are very high with a lawyer but they are afraid of lawyer fees.

Solution:  The QS must negotiate with the client and come to an agreement on the best payment method. There are various ways of charging quantity surveying services which include pay per hour, lump sums and fees based on contract amount or gross floor area of the building.

Size and Scope of Project

When you think your project is too small to be handled by a professional construction estimator, you might feel ashamed to approach a consulting estimator. Some people think that hiring a quantity surveyor is a prestige. They assume that quantity surveyors are only involved in big construction projects for corporations and the rich.

Solution: It is always smart to see a client’s building plan before you come to conclusions. A project that is deemed small might not be so small when you look at the drawings. Above all, the QS knows the best method of handling a small project. It may not warrant a Bill of Quantities but an estimate based on Approximate Quantities will do the job. Besides, small projects do not take much time. Within a day or two, an estimate can be produced. Such work can be given to junior estimators to get them acquainted with the trade.

Lack of Promotion

In some countries, quantity surveyors that are registered with a professional body are not allowed to advertise their services in the press or media such as TV. This makes it hard for the average person in the streets to appreciate their services.

Solution: If promotion on press or billboards is prohibited, you should think out of the box to get noticed. You can attend business meetings and functions on a regular basis to make social connections.