Cost control is usually a top priority for everyone involved in a project. Here are some insights from a QS’s perspective.
Cost control is usually a top priority for everyone involved in a project. Whether you are the designer, architect, contractor, interior decorator or client, the issue of the bottom line is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, from concept phase right through to completion.
In an article entitled Factors affecting the cost of Building Work – An Overview by Tony Cunningham of the Dublin Institute of Technology, he noted that one of the most common initial questions from a client about a construction project is “what is it going to cost me?” which is often followed closely by “can we do it any cheaper?”
Quantity surveyors are tasked with ensuring that the client’s budget is not exceeded, but this is often easier said than done. The desire for quality, pleasing aesthetics and bespoke designs needs to be juggled to meet the requirements of the various stakeholders involved in any building project. Different quantity surveyors follow different procurement strategies for each project, but many times the product they specify will be based on cost and functionality. They need to maximise the value for money that the client is getting for the project.
“It is not the cheaper things in life that we want to possess, but the expensive things that cost less.” – John Ruskin
An interview with the President of ASAQS
FLOORSin Africa Magazine spoke to Dr Stephan Ramabodu, the president of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS), about the challenges that quantity surveyors face when specifying flooring. Stephan received his PhD from the University of the Free State in 2014 and is the Editorial Board Chairperson of Acta Structilia, a national journal for research articles in the physical and development sciences, published by the UFS Department of Quantity Surveying and Construction Management. He says that quantity surveyors often have to change the specifications from an architect in order to stay within budget.
“While quantity surveys often have to change the architect’s specifications, it needs to be noted that the architect is still responsible for the specification. The quantity surveyor can only advise on different options when the QS is forced to cut back on costs. It is often necessary for a quantity surveyor to do cost engineering on a construction project and in this case, a cheaper or cost effective option may be used,” says Stephan.
“Quantity surveyors aren’t in the position to change products that were specified by architects. Instead, they need to agree to use an alternative specification by virtue of a contract instruction and motivate why the change has been suggested. Any changes to the initial changes also have to be approved by the client,” says Stephan.
Quantity surveyors experience a number of challenges when specifying flooring products for clients. Stephan elaborates: “The availability of a product can become a problem when happens that a certain product is simply not available in the province where you are working. Time frames can also have an impact on the flooring product that you specify. Product range options need to be considered alongside cost.”
When it comes to specifying flooring products and remaining within budget, always keeping the final contract value in mind is the most important tip that Stephan can give.
“Staying ahead of your flooring budget can be a very challenging exercise. Do proper cost planning and cost management throughout the entire project and always anticipate what the final contract value will be,” says Stephan.
While an increasing number of building projects are becoming price driven, professionals in the built environment shouldn’t lose sight of quality.
“More and more projects are becoming price driven, but the issue of quality should always remain topmost in your mind. Unfortunately, with cheaper flooring products, you run the risk of inferior quality too. In the current economic climate, an increasing number of contractors are offering their services at discounted rates simply to pay their staff and keep their businesses afloat. Some contractors may even have to close their businesses because of the current lack of projects, so it’s understandable why everyone is looking for ways to cut costs,” says Stephan.
According to Stephan, there are ways that flooring product manufacturers can grab the attention of both architects and quantity surveyors.
“Manufacturers of flooring products must make sure that both quantity surveyors and architects in the industry are familiar with their products. With the right marketing and messaging in place, they must then ensure that their products are readily available should they be specified for projects. A good tip is to provide samples of your product so that professionals in the industry can get a good understanding of what you have to offer. I would say that the biggest focus should be on product awareness and marketing. Quantity surveyors often specify products that they are familiar with or that they have used in past projects, so getting your product out there is a foolproof way to be specified on more leading projects,” concludes Stephan.
Thanks and acknowledgement for information provided for this article are given to www.asaqs.co.za and http://arrow.dit.ie.