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For the want of a nail

For the want of a nail

HLG Associates clarify the important role of a quantity surveyor and potential value of their early involvement

‘For the want of a nail … the kingdom was lost.’

While the proverb from which this extract comes may have indeterminate origins, the meaning conveyed in its few short lines is clear. A missing shoe nail caused the horse to fall; a missing rider meant the message was never delivered; a missing message meant defeat in battle; losing a battle meant the kingdom was lost.

So, the ripple effect of overlooking something as small as a nail can have profound consequences for the whole cause.

Or put another way: it pays to pay attention to detail.

Now, it’s admittedly quite a stretch of imagination to draw parallels between kings fighting battles of old and those responsible for modern building development. Yet, the proverb’s ringing message certainly applies in both scenarios.

It pays to pay attention to detail. And whereas the king should have bestowed responsibility for such matters to his ‘master of ordinance’ or equivalent, for each modern building development there should be a quantity surveyor.

The term ‘quantity surveyor’ is one that many may have come across. Few, however, outside the construction industry, will fully understand the function of this important role.

RUPERT MYERS Managing Director, HLG Associates

‘A quantity surveyor, or QS, is somewhat like a financial accountant,’ explains Rupert Myers, MD of local building industry specialists HLG Associates. ‘Whereas a financial accountant makes sure that every penny is identified and all the sums add-up, a QS does the same for a construction project. We make sure all materials, time and labour needed for the building are identified, and when added together are enough to complete the work.’

It’s a subject to which Rupert brings considerable experience, having begun his career as a trainee QS for local building firm Mark Amy. With strong family connections to Jersey’s construction industry, choosing such a path was a natural choice. It was equally natural to transfer several years later from planning buildings to putting them up, moving to run local contractors Mercury Construction for eleven years. Here, Rupert’s earlier QS experience proved invaluable.

‘Having a detailed understanding of likely construction costs lends a clear insight on the project’s likely viability,’ Rupert elaborates, ‘which may be a reason to call a halt before going too far, or at least review plans before starting. It’s an important experience that’s helped to shape one of the services we now offer through HLG.’

Rupert works with potential developers at an early stage in their project, providing a high-level QS estimate on the potential cost of construction. It’s a feasibility study only, based on provisional plans or intentions. But a small investment at the start, he underlines, may save clients a lot of headaches in the longer term.

‘We come across building projects that have incurred considerable expense before the QS becomes involved,’ Rupert recounts, ‘with monies spent on architect’s fees, structural engineering and planning permissions. And yet when the sums for build and materials are subsequently added-up, the whole development becomes questionable in terms of value for money. It’s a situation nobody wants. And with just a little attention to detail, it’s one that’s easy to avoid.’

So, from lowest groundworks to highest rooftop, it’s the role of a QS to measure, calculate, cost and specify everything required to complete the job. That’s right down to the last nail. Yet before any nail gets bought, hammered … or even lost, the advice is to consider getting some expert QS input up front. While not doing so is unlikely to cost a kingdom, it might just mean a better outcome to the financial battle

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