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Residential Quantity Surveying

What got me thinking…

I was visiting the site of a new residential house build the other day and talking to the Builder he opined that “with people currently struggling to afford the amount they have to borrow to build nowadays, then they have the extra expense of a Quantity Surveyor on top of that”.

I had a wait-a-minute” moment then, and it got me thinking. 

How does the involvement of a Quantity Surveyor add value to the building of this home.

Firstly, i thought this a bit rich, as my fees for this are a fraction of a percent of the total build cost.

Secondly , I knew from experience that by an independent person keeping a close eye on the budget and building costs as the build progresses isn't a bad thing and can and often does, save you money at the end of the day!

Budget Blowout

My next thought was that the most common complaint that we all hear about is that the build has blown the budget and is going to end up costing more than first thought.

There are a few main reasons for this and having a Quantity Surveyor monitor the costs during the build will help to reduce the risk of this happening or at the very least, flag a potential over run in the budget and give you time to take steps to handle this.

The most common causes of your Intital building budget being exceed, that i have observed are as follows, in no particular order of occurrence are;

  • No Contingency amount allowed. This can typically be 1.5% - 10% of the build cost. This covers any unknowns that may crop up and may not even be used unless this happens, but should be included in your budget and part of the approved finance.

  • Quotes from the Builder, Suppliers and Sub-contractors being “Estimates only”, Provisional or even “ Provisional Quote”, whatever that is. Sounds like an oxymoron  to me. It is in your best interests to press for a fixed quotes to give more certainty to build costs, but check for expiry dates on these.

  • Overheads or Preliminary and General costs. Often theses expenses are underestimated in the initial quotes and can include , but limited to, temporary fencing, portoloos, insurances, additional plant and machinery and so on.

  • Costs other than direct building costs. These include Council fees, Design professionals - Architects, Engineers, Interior designers.

  • Inflation or what we call Escalation costs. This should be budgeted for but is usually not.

What's in it for me?

  1. Ideally to stay within your original budget and not have to go cap-in-hand to the bank and ask for more money, which isn't easy nowadays.

  2. An independent person, working for you.

  3. If you have the budget covered, at least close inspection of variation costs and questioning any cost overruns will help ensure you get value for money.