BIM and its impact on the future role of the Quantity Surveyor


The Fear

Throughout history there has been opposition to various forms of industrialisation, automation, computerisation and general new technology, where the people have had concerns they may ‘be replaced by robots’.

In the nineteenth century, English textile workers feared the end of their trade due to labour-economizing technologies such as stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms, causing the Luddite movement.

In the 1830’s, there were the Swing Riots, which saw an uprising by agricultural workers destroying threshing machines.

Although the construction industry has not yet demonstrated signs of descending into the discontent displayed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, there is an evident luddite fallacy that Building Information Modeling (BIM) could cause technological unemployment. A recent SurveyToolKit Snap Poll on Twitter showed that a quarter of QS’s think BIM poses a threat.

Perhaps it is this continued concern about the impact BIM may have on the role of the humble QS, which has caused a delay in Quantity Surveyor’s commitment to the BIM agenda.

The Reality

Quantity Surveying’s uptake of this new approach to design and construction has been slow to-date, but there are many rewards for us further down the line.

BIM’s ability to automate measurement and speed up the traditional estimating process are its key benefits for Quantity Surveyors, according to a RICS research report titled ‘How Does Building Information Modeling (BIM) Support the New Rules of Measurement (NRM1)?’ The research reveals that the main advantage of BIM is its ability to capture, manage and deliver information.

The research, by the University of Salford, finds that the efficiency and accuracy of Quantity Surveying functions can be significantly improved by aligning the BIM based cost estimating and planning processes with NRM1, as it resolves the problems related to the quality of the BIM models and the issues created by the variations of design details. It also notes that BIM delivers a more efficient operational solution for Quantity Surveyors for cost estimating, with its ability to link the relevant quantities and cost information to the building model and update them simultaneously to design changes.

BIM models require a lot of upfront calibration between the QS and designer, for example inputting the correct coding, zoning and ensuring that the building is drawn as it should be built. Even after all that upfront work the QS still has to interrogate, interpret and extract the quantities and align it with standard methods of measurement.

Therefore surely it is the responsibility of the QS to educate the industry on what our requirements are, so as to establish clear methods of achieving the accurate, structured data we want.


As technology evolves, we are forced to evolve with it or run the risk of being left behind. The traditional way of utilising the services of a Quantity Surveyor has largely been at the stage of costing a design, and the production of procurement and construction documentation.

With the development of technology like BIM, the responsibilities of professionals are starting to shift. BIM includes a series of cost management functions that could change the processes of cost management of construction projects. This allows the Quantity Surveyor to delve deeper into different parts of the cost management process, than what wouldn’t have previously.

Not only will BIM influence the cost management functions and responsibilities of the Quantity Surveyor, but also the technology and types of software that are currently used in Quantity Surveying offices.  It is our responsibility and it is to our benefit, to demystify the shroud of fear surrounding BIM and ensure we are working collaboratively.

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