Internal QS vs Outsourced QS
Five parts to make a skilled QS
Quantity Surveying is a funny old industry. I think the reason for this is that it stretches so far across the construction process, so it is very hard to have lots of experience at every part of it.
As advisors, our job can start the moment someone draws a picture on the back of a napkin and can finish right at the very end of construction completing the final accounts.
The skill level in-between these two tasks is vast and encompasses traits from lots of different disciplines.
The Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors said that QSing is part Lawyer, part accountant, part architect, part designer, and part builder, and I don’t think they are wrong!
There’s a boat-load of common sense between the lines too, and a bit of creative flair on occasion even!
Hiring a QS can be tough
All that being the case, you can probably imagine that it is not always easy to find a QS to hire that can do all of those tasks proficiently.
I know I can’t do everything well! Unfortunately, that can be the downfall of an SME builder hiring their own to help keep on top of the pricing.
Frequently one of the problems faced is the level of concentration and pace required for the different tasks involved in QS acumen.
A great example is a QS working on a time-sensitive formal tender. I can remember getting stuck into measuring those and losing days at a time.
If someone rocked up to me and asked me to bust out a quick variation I would have told them which cliff they could jump off….. not because I couldn’t do it, but because I couldn’t be interrupted, or I might miss something in the tender.
Pro’s & Con’s of hiring a QS
The other option is of course you outsource, sending your QS work to a team of people means there is a greater chance of working with the right person at the right time doing the right job.
It will be at a much higher hourly rate, but you won’t be paying for it unless you need it.
If you want my opinion, if you can afford a QS on staff a hybrid of the two can work really well.
Hire someone who can help you with the contract admin as a first priority, but make sure you know where their edges are and outsource work to other advisors as you need to or to make sure you don’t overload your existing QS.
Nothing wrong with the best of both worlds!
Outsourcing is a viable option
So from that comes the pros and cons of hiring a QS when you are a SME builder.
On one hand, you will have someone who can price for you on staff. They will be expensive if they know what they are doing, but that will take the pain of pricing away from you.
They will also be able to help make sure your team have the right info at the right time to keep track of jobs so hopefully, they will also be able to sort out your variations and progress claims for you too.
Just make sure that you understand that it is tricky for a QS to have both hats on at once.
The cons are simply that it is difficult to find a QS that has proficiency in all areas.
Those that are great at material measures may not be great at preparing tender docs as well.
And those that have heaps of experience in the contract administration (progress claims and variations) may be really shoddy at doing up front budget estimates.