“During 2018 we lobbied for the regulated appointment of quantity surveyors to infrastructure projects,” says Larry Feinberg, Executive Director of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS).
The impact of this was evident in the Mid-term Budget Policy Statement by Finance Minister Mboweni where he included quantity surveyors in the execution unit that will be formed to assist with the problem of poor infrastructure project preparation.
In Minister Tito Mboweni’s words: “Too often‚ government spends money on infrastructure when it could be better and more effectively done by the private sector. The Development Bank of Southern Africa‚ the Government Technical Advisory Centre and the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission will receive R625-million to strengthen project preparation.”
“Government will establish an execution unit made up of engineers, quantity surveyors, architects and other professionals to ensure that challenges in the Vaal River System and with the Giyani Water project are resolved. The execution unit will also advise government on new delivery and financing models to provide basic services to communities.”
The regulated appointment of a registered Quantity Surveyor is essential for the reduction of irregular and wasteful expenditure. This is turn will help to ensure that public infrastructure spend is applied to the benefit of the greater South African public.
“While we advocate for this change, Quantity Surveyors also have to keep an eye on remaining relevant and offering valuable services in a changing world,” says Feinberg.
Self-healing concrete, air-cleaning materials, transparent wood, and graphene are just some of the innovative products that are rapidly moving from being labelled alternative building materials to more mainstream.
While South Africa has not yet adopted many of these materials, no construction professional should wait for someone else to be the first to learn how to work with these materials.
Similarly, new techniques in the construction process like additive manufacturing – for example the 3D printing of buildings – also need to be factored into the sustainability and growth strategies of firms and professionals in the South African built environment.
All traditional methodologies must be reviewed with a focus on to the relevancy to the future of designing, constructing, and maintaining infrastructure and buildings.
“Those that can adapt without being forced to do so will have a distinct advantage over those that wait until proof of concept,” warns Feinberg.
Changes to existing methodologies don’t need to be at the extreme edge of technological innovation. Even experimenting in small ways with readily available processes – like Building Information modelling (BIM) – can give construction professionals an edge.
“By rethinking and redefining their traditional roles, professionals in the built environment can help create a secure future for themselves,” says Feinberg. “This security will be built less on the work they’ve already done, and more on how relevant they can remain to their clients’ needs.”
A Quantity Surveyor (QS) is a financial expert trained specifically in the complexities of construction sector finance, procurement and contract administration. The QS is responsible for ensuring that a client receives value for their money during the viability stage, the construction phase and the entire lifecycle of the building, road, bridge, dam, etc.
This is done by verifying – at various points during the planning and construction phase – that the actual expenditure and project delivery aligns with specified material, approved budgets, and agreed timelines.
Feinberg says that Quantity Surveyors would however do well to think of themselves not just as experts in procurement, building contracts and cost control enabled by meticulous measuring and calculations, but also as governance experts and ethics advisors.
Quantity Surveyors are ideal business advisors, even if the historical foundation of the profession is “number crunching”.
“During 2018 the ASAQS has made solid strides towards enabling QS’s to make additional valuable services available to clients,” says Feinberg. “Courses and standardised documentation on life cycle costing, value management towards savings and operational efficiency, and advice on sustainable building practices, methodologies and materials are just some of the many additions we’ve made to our stable of Continuing Professional Development offering.”