Powerjen

QS Costings versus The Real World Query?

Recommended Posts

Hi, I am wondering as to what people's experiences are on the differences between what a Quantity Surveyor prices things at as opposed to what the 'real' costs for work are? I have been told repeatedly by two architects now that they 'overegg' everything. I am needing to do house renovations (we have recently bought a 1800's cottage with low attic rooms) to get my infirm parents moved in with us.

 

Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends what you involve a QS for, and how you are paying them I would say. If you want them to manage the whole affair then expect a big Omelette. If however it's just to do the sourcing end of things, maybe just a three egger. 

I would wager that if you said to a decent QS what your architect said, you'd get something back like 'Well Architects made things overly complicated and fussy'. An experienced QS should have a better idea of where to go and have a decent list of contractors and suppliers to pick from, I would say that's the real benefit in many cases. Not anything you couldn't do yourself though if it's just small scale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Big Neil said:

Depends what you involve a QS for, and how you are paying them I would say. If you want them to manage the whole affair then expect a big Omelette. If however it's just to do the sourcing end of things, maybe just a three egger. 

I would wager that if you said to a decent QS what your architect said, you'd get something back like 'Well Architects made things overly complicated and fussy'. An experienced QS should have a better idea of where to go and have a decent list of contractors and suppliers to pick from, I would say that's the real benefit in many cases. Not anything you couldn't do yourself though if it's just small scale.

Thanks Big Neil

 

I probably haven't made any sense!  I meant that the work they are doing is costing an architects sketch of proposed works, so not the costs for employing a QS but their costings for work needed to renovated a house and how their estimates for the work differ from what a builder would actually charge to do it.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Powerjen said:

Hi, I am wondering as to what people's experiences are on the differences between what a Quantity Surveyor prices things at as opposed to what the 'real' costs for work are? I have been told repeatedly by two architects now that they 'overegg' everything. I am needing to do house renovations (we have recently bought a 1800's cottage with low attic rooms) to get my infirm parents moved in with us.

 

Thank you.

No difference 

Except you will have yet another fee to pay 

 

If you need to use a quantity surveyor Some If the builders merchants will do it for a one off fee if you have an account with them Usually around £250  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, nod said:

No difference 

Except you will have yet another fee to pay 

 

If you need to use a quantity surveyor Some If the builders merchants will do it for a one off fee if you have an account with them Usually around £250  

 

Hi Nod, thanks. So, if they say the work is going to cost 125k and we don't have any nasty surprises or stray off plan the actual work will cost 125k? I have been told that QS's always vastly overestimate, hence my question. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The (or a) way to look at is... A good QS will tend to err on the side of caution with everything, they will allow for a bit of bounce in costs so that they give you (hopefully) the worst case scenario, they'll usually add a contingency and maybe a even an extra bit for design development if everything isn't detailed in the information...

There are always ways to make things cheaper (or more expensive) until you get to the point of appointing a builder, it's critical to have a decent contingency dealing with an existing building.

If you use a builder to price it as you go along, it's more likely that costs will increase, as they will price it as is without looking at any potential issues or contingencies.

In your other thread that you are based in Scotland, so you will have to get a decent set of information together  for the building warrant and I know you said that you want to keep everything within permitted development, but that's usually a false economy - just design what you want and if it falls within pd it's a bonus, if not you can do your warrant and planning applications at the same time...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Personally I would find a local builder with a good reputation and ask him to quote for the work (as long as you know what you want:) yes there are always things that do not go to plan, this is what a contingency is for. The trick is to find a good builder and check with people that have had work done by them. I had a brilliant builder for the “hard” work on my build and cannot fault him (but they are rare!).

Edited by joe90
Edit
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, Powerjen said:

 

Hi Nod, thanks. So, if they say the work is going to cost 125k and we don't have any nasty surprises or stray off plan the actual work will cost 125k? I have been told that QS's always vastly overestimate, hence my question. :)

I thought you meant material cost

A QS will always price labour high

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

The (or a) way to look at is... A good QS will tend to err on the side of caution with everything, they will allow for a bit of bounce in costs so that they give you (hopefully) the worst case scenario, they'll usually add a contingency and maybe a even an extra bit for design development if everything isn't detailed in the information...

There are always ways to make things cheaper (or more expensive) until you get to the point of appointing a builder, it's critical to have a decent contingency dealing with an existing building.

If you use a builder to price it as you go along, it's more likely that costs will increase, as they will price it as is without looking at any potential issues or contingencies.

In your other thread that you are based in Scotland, so you will have to get a decent set of information together  for the building warrant and I know you said that you want to keep everything within permitted development, but that's usually a false economy - just design what you want and if it falls within pd it's a bonus, if not you can do your warrant and planning applications at the same time...

 

Thanks, that was what I had been told about the QS so it is worst case scenario really. We were going to involve a QS for more of the work and go to tender etc but we are getting detailed costings from him so I can use that as a template for builders quotes to see how they compare with what the QS thinks (or at least I think that is the way forward). I had been told that the warrant shouldn't be applied for till the planning was sorted? As time isn't on our side, that was why we had thought going the pd route was best, but I am here to learn so... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you @joe90 we have just had a builder round to see preliminary sketches. Need to see he work he's done though. Getting anyone to even quote for work around here is hard work. He was recommended by someone who has done work for us before so hoping he is up to the job.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I paid a QS more money than I am comfortable disclosing to do a full cost plan for me to use as the basis for a tender process.  The cost plan came in at approximately 50% over the tender I went for eventually.  I did not end up using the cost plan as the basis of the tender as, when dealing with small builders, they have an understandable reluctance to use any cost breakdown structure other than the one they are accustomed to and comfortable working with.  To add insult to injury I later found out that the cost plan had been given to one of the builders who was bidding for the work but I could not use the information to recoup my payment to the QS as it was given to me in confidence.

 

Anyway, like most of my costly mistakes, it seemed like a good idea at the time.....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Powerjen said:

Getting anyone to even quote for work around here is hard work.

 

I hear you! I have the same issue here! I live 8 miles from a small town but sometimes it feels like I’m in Timbuktu! 

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still get calls asking if I would consider working fir them even tho I retired over three years ago. (Frankly they don’t have a chance in hell), I like retirement even tho I still seem to “work” every day, but it’s different working for yourself 😎

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, newhome said:

 

I hear you! I have the same issue here! I live 8 miles from a small town but sometimes it feels like I’m in Timbuktu! 

 

Ah yes the joys. I am 25 mins from the nearest town... seems to automatically up any costs cause people will need to travel, that's if they will even come round to see the work of course! :/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Powerjen said:

 

Ah yes the joys. I am 25 mins from the nearest town... seems to automatically up any costs cause people will need to travel, that's if they will even come round to see the work of course! :/

 

I struggle to get people here as there is enough work for folk on their doorstep, and some of the ones that have come have either fleeced me or been frankly sh1t! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not gone down the QS route yet but from my experience some architects will woefully underestimate costs at the design phase. Nearly 100% with my first architect.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you @D Walter that is good info.  I really cant see that it would cost the figures the QS has started producing so your 50% is reassuring.  We just don't want to take their figures as gospel when we are already demoralised by the feedback we are getting from them and we dont' want to spend alot of money on creating detailed plans and start going through the council if we are either being under or oversold what we can afford.  Thanks again, very helpful. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Ralph said:

Not gone down the QS route yet but from my experience some architects will woefully underestimate costs at the design phase. Nearly 100% with my first architect.  

 

Yep! We are on our second architect because the first one who's simplest plan we chose came out as 3 times our budget, then they blamed us for wanting too much...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, newhome said:

 

I struggle to get people here as there is enough work for folk on their doorstep, and some of the ones that have come have either fleeced me or been frankly sh1t! 

 

We could live in the same place... same here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you can find a really good builder who you trust they can critique your plans for expensive "bells and whistles", areas which will be difficult and therefore costly to build and other areas which could go wrong.  Having said that, it is really difficult to get a good builder to spend any time getting to grips with plans until they are on the job and not still concentrating 100% on finishing the previous job.  It is also hard to get round the mindset of good tradesmen who have learnt by experience not to make aesthetic, design or structural suggestions to clients as it will often come back to bite them.    Thankfully, I have learnt to read the slightly pained expression which comes over my builder's face when he thinks (knows) we are making the wrong decision.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, Powerjen said:

 

Thanks, that was what I had been told about the QS so it is worst case scenario really. We were going to involve a QS for more of the work and go to tender etc but we are getting detailed costings from him so I can use that as a template for builders quotes to see how they compare with what the QS thinks (or at least I think that is the way forward). I had been told that the warrant shouldn't be applied for till the planning was sorted? As time isn't on our side, that was why we had thought going the pd route was best, but I am here to learn so... :)

 

It's good practice to wait until you have planning before doing a building - as there's no point in getting a warrant for something you can't build - but it really comes down to attitude to risk, if you're confident of getting planning you can run the two applications concurrently. 

If you end up with a compromised space which, in a year or so, you sit and think "I wish I had done x,y,z" then a few weeks extra at this stage is a worthwhile investment (in my opinion)

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@D Walter thank you. I agree, a good builder is worth their weight in gold, if you can find one. I have already tried two who I thought were up for the work but have never got back with quotes (this was with the old architect) so am talking to a local chap who was recommended to me at the moment seems like he might be someone we could work with. I have just bought a couple of building books though, so I might have to get my overalls on! I have posted on here the plans of current and proposed ideas too. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@the_r_sole thanks for the advice. I think we will sadly always have a compromised space because of the nature of what we are having to do based on our budget. People have said we could do things in stages as and when we can afford it, but our problem is we need the maximum space now and once our parent's aren't here anymore we will be spoilt for space. We have been at this since October and we had expected to get the work all done this summer but the first architects let us down so we are doing it all again and not much further forward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is worth talking to local people (estate agents, tradesmen, local authority building inspectors) about builders.  I know my builder a bit through sport and got a massive thumbs up when talking to friendly estate agents, surveyors, structural engineers and others.  My building inspector uses him for his own building work.  I waited about 18 months for my builder to finish his current project and it was the right decision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Powerjen said:

 

Yep! We are on our second architect because the first one who's simplest plan we chose came out as 3 times our budget, then they blamed us for wanting too much...

 

I felt quite naive not to say stupid for believing our first architect because now with hindsight it was obvious. With our new architect whenever we ask if we can have x he says yes but it will add y to your budget, then offers a more cost effective alternative. 

 

Just now, Powerjen said:

@the_r_sole thanks for the advice. I think we will sadly always have a compromised space because of the nature of what we are having to do based on our budget. People have said we could do things in stages as and when we can afford it, but our problem is we need the maximum space now and once our parent's aren't here anymore we will be spoilt for space. We have been at this since October and we had expected to get the work all done this summer but the first architects let us down so we are doing it all again and not much further forward.

 

We wasted at least 2 years trying to cut and re quote on a design that was just not going to get near budget. All this at the architects prompting. When we dropped him he sent a in a fairly massive settlement bill.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now