QS – Cost Or Investment?
“Why should I use a QS when I can price my own jobs for free?”
Let’s get something straight – I am not a QS however, I do manage a team of them and in my role I get to speak to a lot of builders on a daily basis. One of the questions I get asked frequently is, “why should I use a QS when I can price my own jobs for free ?”. It never fails to amaze me that builders value themselves so lowly ! The fact is that any time you spend on your business has a cost associated it with it and is never ‘free’. As they say, time is money and you need to decide how your time is best used. Is it pricing jobs which most of you tell me you hate anyway ? Or is it doing what you really love and subcontracting out what no one taught you during your apprenticeship ? Another fact, whether you price a job yourself or get a QS to do it for you there is a cost associated which is a direct overhead i.e. a cost of running your business. The key is that cost needs to be passed on to your client / the homeowner one way or another, ideally incorporated into the overall build cost although if you are unsure of winning the business in the first place ask them to pay for the pricing upfront and you will reimburse them if they decide to build with you (then build it into your pricing anyway – as I said before, this is a legitimate cost of running your business).
Can I afford NOT to use a QS?
Rather than just shoving our quote in front of your client and asking them to pay it, explain to them the benefits of using a QS. Your client should be pleased that you are going to an independent industry professional who prices construction projects for a living – we are specialists, no different than all the other subcontractors you use on a daily basis. Once your client agrees to you using a QS make sure you get the most out of the QS’ experience, this is your report and you get the final sign off. You will receive a draft report from the QS which you then have the opportunity to make changes to or ask for clarification on any areas you are not sure of. Once you receive the final QS report don’t just chuck it in the drawer after rubbing your hands together at how much money you are going to make. This report should form the blueprint with which you run the job, ensuring that each element of the build is controlled and there are no unexpected blowouts. Once the invoices start rolling in this report will also assist you with back costing.
I know that it will be difficult to shift that deeply ingrained perception some builders have of a QS being expensive so I would challenge those builders to change their mindset from “Can I afford to use a QS ?” to “Can I afford NOT to use a QS.”