In terms of optimising the material aspects of design in an offsite / prefab construction, the role of the quantity surveyor (QS) is significant, particularly from the perspective of program and cost planning. Generally speaking the QS’ involvement will be consistent throughout the build, spanning project inception through to completion of design and likely to involve the following stages:
A key first stage is establishing initial feasibility – this would involve identifying suitable opportunities for prefabrication of various components such that quality and compliance with Australian Standards were obtainable outcomes. With the owners’ buy-in, the QS would then undertake current comparative costing exercises for traditional onsite construction versus prefabrication offsite. This exercise would very likely result in two outputs, depending upon the type of client and their requirements.
- Comparison based upon current construction costs only (for short term owners such as developers); and
- Comparison of the whole of life costs expressed as a net present value (for long term owners such as institutional investors)
Once a feasibility is committed to by all parties, the QS would be engaged and responsible for deploying cost planning services to ensure the design and specification is completed so that the tendered construction costs are in accordance with the feasibility costs. If the owner is serious about achieving the feasibility costs then they will need to empower the QS with the ability to direct the designers with respect to changes, which are required to meet the feasibility costs, which all parties have signed off on as part of the project feasibility.
POST COMPLETION (FOR LONG TERM OWNERS)
The QS would need to be maintained by the owner after construction in order to monitor facilities management decisions and costs for compliance with assumptions made in the initial cost planning.
From quantity surveyors’ perspective, a clear message for owners who want to maximise cost efficiencies for their project would be to encourage them to maintain appropriate QS services from start to finish, which will vary in duration depending upon whether there is a short or long term owner. The best way to a positive outcome is to have a clearly defined brief including defined goals and outputs, and in an ideal world, the QS will be empowered with the necessary authority to achieve those goals.
Design consultants’ agreements should also ideally reflect the QS authority over consultants’ documentation in a clear statement. This helps minimise the inevitable clash between designers and the QS whenever cost planning services are deployed on a project.■
Grant Warner – CEO, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors.