The role of the Quantity Surveyor is not under threat, but enhanced by the use of BIM argues Bhushan Avsatthi, Director at Hi-Tech iSolutions LLP
A long existing concern of automation and digitisation is a perceived threat it poses to Quantity Surveyors. It’s possible they see BIM as a threat to their job roles and growth prospects since a lot of work would be automated the day BIM is deployed on a full scale. However, upon observation, one may cite instances of construction planning, scheduling, costing, etc. where BIM has not blurred, but in fact sharpened the roles of Quantity Surveyors.
The current situation
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors describes the role as:
“The role of a Quantity Surveyor is to ensure that the resources of the construction industry are deployed for the betterment of society by providing the financial management and serve as a cost consultant to their clients.”
When surveying and logistics related tasks are planned for large built-up areas and construction facilities with multiple complexities, Quantity Surveyors work under extreme pressure. They are required to deliver cost estimation and BOMs, (bill of materials), etc. with ever-looming deadlines. Quantity Surveyors in pre-contract phases encounter the biggest challenge when cost reporting and planning since they prepare BOQs (bill of quantities) based on the designs received. Engineers and Architects are expected to deliver fully annotated and dimensioned construction plans, in addition to elevation and sectional details. In a nutshell, Engineers and Architects are expected to deliver drawings to Quantity Surveyors with the minutest design details for BOMs; the way drawings are delivered for final construction.
Even if a single detail is missing in the drawings, assumptions are made to prepare cost reports based on estimation. Such assumptions and estimations cause cost overruns or result in a scarcity of ordered quantity. So without BIM, making informed decisions is risky in the early stages, and judgements are prejudiced resulting in material waste, rework and delays. This current haphazard situation of estimation itself demands the eradication of long practised manual methods with some element of guesswork.
Overcoming the situation with BIM
BIM was introduced with an aim to avoid prejudiced decisions and manage complexities in the construction sector. Since then, it is known to be a tool for coordinating and collaborating information generated by Architects, Structural Engineers and MEP Engineers.
BIM has the potential to automate the core tasks of Quantity Surveyors and finally cut them some slack! BIM’s capacity to insert, share and manage the information in a centralised shared data environment empowers surveying. It contributes towards the improvisation of managing preliminary estimates, feasibility studies, costs, plans, BOM preparations, tendering and dispute resolution. BIM seamlessly integrates the fragmented communication, minimises data conflicts, and avoids unnecessary reworks.
Furthermore, the feature of 5D BIM to work on a ‘live model’ that updates changes in cost estimation with the change in 3D geometry of the building model, keeps Quantity Surveyors updated. With the inclusion of designs, scheduling and various costs such as materials, labour, etc. 5D BIM gives a derivation of productivity rates. The derivation helps contractors in scheduling time for ordering materials on-site by appropriate coordination. So, the cost estimation made using BIM technology reduces errors and provides results closer to actual value since the estimation is based on accurate statistical data.
The major advantage for Quantity Surveyors is that they can plan orders for procurement activities accurately from as-built models. BIM-ready 3D models give the exact QTO (quantity takeoffs) and materials planning based on the information throughout. It goes without saying that at the preliminary stages, design information in the construction model is not exhaustive; it evolves gradually as the designing stage develops. As a result, a simple BOQ will not suffice the needs of providing a substantial report or cost indication for a construction facility.
While there is always an option of manual evaluation from the drawings received from structural and MEP Engineers and Architects, it still is a laborious task and consumes additional time. Over and above, a manual evaluation won’t generate accurate outcomes. Integrating 5D BIM with cost estimating software provides an accurate value of QTO in one go.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hi-Tech iSolutions LLP