Cost Control

6 outputs that you can expect from your QS before you even start on site, and what they mean

6 outputs that you can expect from your QS before you even start on site, and what they mean


As with a lot of professions, we are guilty as surveyors for using industry terminology, jargon and acronyms. In this post I’ll highlight 6 of the most common outputs that you can expect from your QS in the design stages of the project, and what they mean.

1) Procurement Strategy report

A procurement strategy report is one of the first outputs from your QS, and essentially this details the strategy for getting a contractor on board to deliver the project. This will be produced by the QS in consultation with the client and other members of your design team.


This document will usually summarise the options that the project team considered, along with a recommendation of the optimum procurement strategy, and next steps.

2) Order of Cost Estimate

An order of cost estimate is basically a very early indication of how much the project will cost to complete. This will usually be based on very limited information, so there will be numerous assumptions about the design, specification, and possibly the procurement strategy. At this stage the cost estimate will be calculated based on other similar projects is likely to be presented as a range, rather than an estimate.

3) Cost Plan

Once the design has been developed by the design team, the QS will produce their first cost plan. Initially this is likely to be based on floor plans, elevations, sketches and an outline specification, which are sufficiently developed to allow the QS to form a very simple cost breakdown. A cost plan will also include an allowance for risk, to cover design development, construction contingency and other project risks.

This cost plan will then be updated at the regular design stages (known as RIBA stages), and as the design is progressed this will become more detailed and provide greater cost certainty.

4) PQQ (Pre Qualification Questionnaire)

Often it is useful to send an initial enquiry out to the market to narrow down the number of contractors for tender stage.

The purpose of this stage is to ensure that all contractors who will be invited to tender for the project have passed any initial financial checks, insurance requirements and have the capacity to deliver the project. Issuing this in advance of the main tender is advantageous as it does not impact on the overall programme as it is usually undertaken in parallel with the design development and it means that only contractors who meet the client’s requirements will proceed to the next stage.

5) Tender Documents

When the time comes to finding a contractor to deliver the project, the QS will collate all of the documents that have been produced by the design team, and any other relevant information about the site / building, and these are known as the tender documents.

As well as collating information from others, there are likely to be other documents which are produced by the QS such as:-

  • Form of tender – this is a document for the contractor to return their price and programme to the client, and includes a signed declaration that their tender is genuine and that they have not colluded with others.
  • Preliminaries – this document contains key information about the project, the site and any constraints on the method of working, as well as key information that will be inserted into the construction contract at a later date.
  • Pricing Schedule / Bill of Quantities – this is a document that details what works are required, and contains pricing points for the contractor to insert their price. Issuing this document means that you will get consistent tender returns and that all prices will be comparable.

6) Tender Recommendation Report

Once the contractors have submitted their tender returns, the QS will review and interrogate each tender to ensure that they are all on the same basis, as well as reviewing and collating any responses from other project team members on aspects relating to the quality of each contractor’s tender submission. The Tender recommendation report summarises the tender process, final position / ranking of the tenderers and a recommendation and next steps.


Hopefully that gives you more of an insight into what you can expect from your Quantity Surveyor in the pre-construction stages of the project. Every project is different, and I’ve not covered all eventualities. In the background they will also be working with the project team to ensure the design is efficient, and testing the market to make sure the project is on track to be delivered on budget.

Do you have any questions, or suggestions of further outputs that would make your life easier as a client, or designer?