Quantity Surveying - Professional Construction Industry Services

The Work I Do (Expertise)

I am familiar with all aspects of Quantity Surveying and have performed all of the duties outlined below to a high level of expertise.

For your convenience I have separated certain functions which I believe I perform extremely well (based on all my past performances) or particularly enjoy doing by using a red font for the titles.

For specific examples of results I have obtained in each category, you can sometimes get a good idea by browsing through the section on Projects I Have Worked On if you can read between the lines a little or have some knowledge of the projects in question (in which case, my presence and/or results obtained would probably be known to you anyway). More detailed specifics would not be appropriate to post so publicly, but can be provided at time of interview if required.

The Usual Suspects
Every QS worthy of the name should have the ability to do the run of the mill work any project requires. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Subcontractor Financials – Going over applications for payments, certifications of same, ensuring of the accuracy and quantity of work done, materials used and so on.
  • Contractual Issues – This ranges from going over the main contract prior to tender (a luxury I am seldom afforded, but which saves a lot of grief later if I get it) all the way to perusing contracts already entered into in the event of any disputes to see where any advantages or disadvantages for the employer lie.
  • Liaising with the Project Management Team – As good as a Quantity Surveyor may be, he relies heavily on the information provided by the Project Management team. Being able to understand their specific view points and positions is important in order to be able to work with them in a way that ensures a beneficial outcome for the employer. Furthermore, it is important to be able to grasp the value/cost of real life, practical situations encountered in the construction industry in order to not make the mistake of  looking good on paper, only to fail in practice. Having worked with a wide variety of projects and an even more varied cast of project management teams, I have learnt to work well, and obtain positive results with the very vast majority of them, no matter how dysfunctional a family some of them form. Nor am I beyond the practice of putting on a hard-hat and going to measure, check, or understand things on site myself in order to see the reality of the situations I may have to deal with. A practice that sadly I have seen too many a QS avoid as if their professional life depended on it!
  • Adding Value – In any project some variations will be almost inevitable. With proper contractual agreements in place, these can often be maximised either for time, money, strategic advantage, bargaining on other issues or all of the above. The difference between a good QS and a mediocre one can often be summarised in this one function. It is also probably the biggest reason why people in my profession are sometimes considered as the vilest hit-men of the construction industry. Most unfairly so really. The blame should be laid squarely at the feet of the poor designs that so often require such necessary and obviously costly changes.

Unfortunately our industry is sometimes only slightly removed from a war-zone; one where the missiles take the form of less deadly (but possibly more annoying) paper or electronic missives that often begin with the words “Without Prejudice” - a legal piece of semantics that when translated to normal English often means the exact opposite. Unpleasant as these situations sometimes are, I happen to excel at this part of my craft.
If, as the Japanese say, “Business is War”, then think of me as your special forces sniper when it comes to claims.

Forensic Accounting
This is another aspect of my craft I excel at. In fact, I am so good at this particular part of my work that it sometimes makes colleagues and/or employers nervous.

It is usually at this point therefore, that I need to stress why I often refer to my profession as being essentially the same as that of a good mercenary. There are many analogous parallels between hiring a mercenary and hiring a professional in the construction industry. More than you'd think really. I thus urge you to read in more detail about my working philosophy here as it will clarify many things for any prospective employers. In brief though, it can be summarised like this:

Hiring a low-quality mercenary force is often more catastrophic than going to war in the first place, while hiring a good one can often result in only minimal use of force to achieve all your objectives and even surpass them. The difference is essentially in the pay grades you have to hand out and in the results you obtain.
A good mercenary who gets paid well and wants to continue doing so has to produce good results on a consistent basis. Similarly, a good employer understands that by paying well for a job well done he ensures the loyalty and commitment of his mercenary force. Having each other's mutual best interest at heart for mostly selfish reasons (my pay and your results respectively) is professionally speaking, one of the more durable and trusting relationships one can have in business. Should we also happen to get along as people, well, all the better of course. Though some may think this approach callous or cynical, my experience has been that just because our mutual respect, trust, loyalty and professionalism towards each other may have selfish origins, it is no less passionate because of it. In fact, quite the contrary. Genuine friendships between professional people of this nature are not an unusual outcome.

As a freelancer, I usually get hired to do specific tasks, these can be more or less narrowly defined depending on the nature of the project, which means I may or may not become aware of certain information.
Obviously much of the information I come in contact with is often of a sensitive nature, therefore my employers can rest assured that I maintain the highest standards of professional non-disclosure and confidentiality.

It is also sometimes useful to understand from a personality point of view that whilst living in South Africa, I also worked for a number of years as a professional in close protection services. My clients then ran the gamut. Some were from the class of the super-wealthy, (multi-billionaires) some were simply famous (internationally so) and a few were even generally considered to be beyond reproach (I once had to operate at a function for Desmond Tutu for example). In each instance, the longer the time I spent as their bodyguard, the more I would necessarily find out about their lives. Some of those discoveries would no doubt still fetch me a handsome fee if I were the kind of person inclined to “sell my story”. It goes against my nature to behave in such a manner unless forced to do so by extreme circumstances. As a professional, I rely on my employers to behave towards me in a simple and ethically unambiguous manner. I therefore extend the same courtesy to them.

Budget Control
This is a funny beast. I am actually very good at this specific task and have outperformed the expectations of every employer that allowed me the level of authority to implement changes (or actively took my advice and did it themselves, which is my preferred methodology). Unfortunately, generally speaking, people are not as comfortable with change as I would sometimes like and adapting new practices can sometimes be difficult for them (even if they may be practically simpler and more financially sound to do). I invariably point out to my employers where they can save money (or in some cases stop wasting it!) but they are not always ready to take note. To date though, I have not had any complaints by any employers who did take note and implement the changes. And in one instance at least, several changes I personally implemented combined to make one company owner able to actively generate enough passive income to be able to effectively retire.