Why you should hire a ‘brick counter’ for your project

October 26th, 2016
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Written by Dean Hayes

Brick counter, bean counter, project policeman and other things much worse and inappropriate to write here, are just some of the names I, and no doubt many other Quantity Surveyors (QS) have been called during my career.

I have been told I will be thrown from the top of a 5 storey scaffold when catching bricklayers with their “special” tape measures as a young QS, as well as having to defend myself from someone with a steel pipe in his hand in a trench in the middle of nowhere. All good stories to look back on now, but what makes a good QS and more importantly, why should you hire one?

The old and out dated image of QS’s as brick counters is still happily portrayed by many in the Australian construction industry, and that’s just the people who have heard of us. Australia also tends to have very defined roles for each of the disciplines that a QS is trained in – Estimating, Contract Administration, Contracts Management etc, and sometimes therefore, struggles to understand how all of these can be covered by just one person.

In truth, a good QS should have the following essential traits that will make a huge difference to your project:

  • Competent – Be elite performers applying technical and commercial knowledge and methodologies.
  • Confident – An unbiased and transparent approach that’s high on integrity and understands the big picture.
  • Clinical – Be intimate with the details and processes to drive results

These traits make QS’s a vital tool in minimising uncertainties in project costs and delivery and are also the reason why, in many other countries, a phone call would be made to a QS the moment a project is even thought about. QS’s like to stop those grey areas that will inevitably come back to cause problems at some point during the project, leading to far more security than if a QS was not involved.

Here at McGarry Associates, we define our role as QS’s as providing the “3 I’s”, believing we can add Intelligence, Intuition and Insight to any project and ultimately improve results.

And whilst its always difficult to spend money on Consultants when you are unsure of the benefits that are going to come from it – especially for a “brick counter”, it has long been proven that the return on investment from using QS’s properly is tenfold and above, and the reason the profession has been around for over four hundred years. Now surely that would not be possible if all that we did was count bricks!