Quantity surveyors get to say ‘I was part of that’ about some of the world’s most high-profile construction projects. And that’s not all that makes the job interesting, as three QSs told us
‘Every day is different’
Name Damian Bateman
Job Principal QS, Franklin + Andrews
When I tell people what I do for a living, often they think it’s just about counting bricks but actually it’s a very varied job. Twenty, maybe even 10 years ago, perhaps there was a lot more counting and measuring but these days it’s different. OK, so you might spend a couple of days in the office doing cost plans, but then the next you’ll be out on site talking to architects and engineers, or going to meet all sorts of different people with different views.
For instance, I’ve been working on the London Olympic bid and that meant I got to go round Lords and Wimbledon, behind the scenes where you wouldn’t normally get to see, then the next day I was sitting down with the transport people and the police, who are advising on security, to get their input. I’ve also recently been working on a retail project with some concept designers who had a very different take on things from anyone I’d worked with before.
There isn’t really an average day, it doesn’t ever get monotonous – there’s boring elements, the same as any job, but you always know they’re not going to last very long.
It’s always satisfying when the tenders come back and they’re within your costs. It makes you feel good to know that you’ve advised the client correctly. And, of course, with London 2012, there’s the knowledge that you’re working on a major world event, and hopefully contributing to winning it for London.
‘I’m working on the Freedom Tower’
Name Tom Jaske
Job Vice-president, Hanscomb Faithful & Gould
I enjoy the variety of jobs that I work on at any one time. Right now we have some nice ones in house: I’m working as cost consultant with the Lower Manhattan Trade Corporation on the redevelopment of the Twin Towers site in New York, which includes the 1776 ft Freedom Tower. I’m involved in five or six projects at any one time and new ones can come my way as often as once a quarter.
Also, my actual role can vary: in the pure cost-estimating world, you get a set of drawings and only have to give a set of costs, but sometimes clients want more services such as a performance schedule, for example.
At other times in my career I’ve done pure financial work and project management, among other roles, but I’ve always worked in jobs that demand an analytical approach because I enjoy making the abstract simple: taking a set of drawings, or even sometimes just a concept, and turning it into a detailed costing.
‘It can be nail-biting stuff’
Name Nick Andrews
Job Associate, Davis Langdon
Cost estimation work can be nail-biting stuff: you put your neck on the line with an estimate and you’re waiting for the response to the tender; you’ve done everything you can to get it right; and then when the OK comes back and it’s all been a success, it’s a real buzz.
I moved to Cornwall from London about 12 years ago for a quieter life, but it hasn’t worked out that way – I’ve ended up working on lots of exciting projects including the Eden Project, the Beach development of luxury flats in Carlyon Bay and the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.
Being a QS is something you can enjoy on all sorts of levels. It’s not just the academic side, the contractual and legal stuff, there’s also the practical side, being involved in different types of construction – on the Eden Project we revived some old-fashioned techniques such as cobbing but we also used state-of-the-art technology. You get to work with interesting clients, and you’re mixing with all sorts of different disciplines, from architects to contractors.”