Most Kenyans who build their homes from scratch overlook quantity surveyors to cut costs.
But quantity surveyors prefer to define their work using two Bible verses from the book of Luke.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower, won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you.’’
Andrew Mandere, the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya chairman says the gospel precisely captures their role, adding that anyone ignoring them when building a dream house is groping in the dark on matters cost and quality of work.
“Trying to implement any construction work without advice from a quantity surveyor exposes a builder to the imminent risk of losing money as a contractor can exaggerate costs,” he says.
“You also risk underpaying a contractor, which generates new problems that are also costly as they might end up compromising the quality of work,” adds Mr Mandere.
Quality of materials
He notes that lack of a quantity surveyor’s quotation also leads to delays that increase the project cost.
“A contractor concentrates on projects that pay him well and promptly not those where they are underpaid. This translates to more attention going to other projects than your own,” he says.
A quantity surveyors (QS) advises on building materials, processes and time taken to finish a house.
They usually charge 3.5 per cent fee of the project cost if he or she offers full service. However, one is allowed to charge depending on man hours spent on a project.
One may charge between Sh3,000 to Sh10,000 an hour, depending on experience and specialisation.
Mr Mandere advises that a QS should be engaged at the planning stage to scrutinise architectural plans. This helps check on quality of materials, scrutinise the contractor and their ability to do the project.
At the building stage, a QS monitors every step ensuring the right concrete mix ratios are applied as well as the right size of twisted iron bars for pillars, rental beams and floor slabs.
“A QS quantifies costs of your project at every stage, ensuring you get value for money. We look at building materials used at every stage thereby boosting quality of the finished product,” he says.
After completion of a project, it is the QS that is required to conduct a technical audit and present the building owner with a report on its compliance with all processes. This ensures safety of a premise before occupation, avoiding costly lawsuits attributed to shoddy work.