Bills of Quantities may not be the most thrilling part of our job, but the financial and timely benefits  they provide to all parties certainly make them slightly more attractive!

Many consultancies nowadays, including ourselves, pride themselves on being ‘modern’ yet ‘traditional’, but what does ‘traditional’ actually mean? One key meaning is the ability to measure traditionally and create a comprehensive Bill of Quantities.

The last few years or so has seen a notable decrease in the amount of Bills being produced by Quantity Surveyors, however, with a new emphasis on early engagement and collaborative working, Bills of Quantities are making a comeback. They ultimately ensure that everyone, from the outset, is working to the same set of specifications. A return to a more equally balanced use of both Traditional and D&B contracts has also facilitated this.

So, ignore the myths flying about that Bills of Quantities are a dying art, they’re back and they’re here to stay!

Let’s go back to the basics, what is a Bill of Quantities?

A Bill of Quantities is a comprehensive document prepared by a Quantity Surveyor which itemises and quantifies the works associated with a construction project.

It serves as a detailed list of the work to be executed under the contract, along with their corresponding quantities and rates. On a traditional form of contract, bills of quantities are provided by the client and ensure all tenderers are provided with a standardised document, making it easy for contractors to submit an accurate and fair price for the works associated with the construction project. Thus, providing the client with transparency in the tender returns, reducing the risk of ambiguity, errors or omissions and overall ensuring that the tenders are reviewed on a like-for-like basis. On D&B contract, each Contractor will have their own BoQ produced.

Bills of quantities typically include detailed information such as:

  • Description of the scope of works, broken down into the component parts, with reference to drawings and specifications,
  • Accurate quantification of the components that are required for construction,
  • Measurements and dimensions of the components of the project,
  • Unit prices for each item or component,
  • Total cost for each item or component and overall cost for the project,
  • Specifications and quality standards for materials and workmanship.

What are the benefits that a Bill of Quantities can provide to both a contractor and a client?

Contractors often use bills of quantities to prepare their bids for a construction project, as it helps them accurately estimate the costs and resources required to complete the work. It also serves as a point of reference during the construction phase, ensuring that the project is executed according to the specified quantities and standards. Additionally, a bill of quantities facilitates cost control, progress monitoring, and helps in resolving any disputes that may arise during the construction process.

Benefits of a Bill of Quantities to Contractors

  1. Accurate Cost Estimation: The detailed breakdown of materials, labour, and other costs enables contractors to provide more accurate cost estimates for the project, reducing the likelihood of cost overruns and unexpected expenses.
  2. Transparent Pricing: A bill of quantities ensures transparency in the pricing of materials and services, which helps in minimising disputes and misunderstandings between the client and the contractor.
  3. Efficient Resource Management: Having a clear understanding of the quantities and types of materials required helps contractors plan and manage their resources more efficiently, leading to better project scheduling and resource allocation.
  4. Quality Control: A bill of quantities often includes specifications and quality standards for materials and workmanship, ensuring that the project meets the desired quality levels and complies with the specified requirements.
  5. Risk Management: By providing a comprehensive overview of the project requirements, a bill of quantities helps in identifying potential risks and challenges early in the project lifecycle, allowing for proactive risk management and mitigation strategies.
  6. Facilitates Project Monitoring: A bill of quantities serves as a benchmark for monitoring the progress of the project, enabling stakeholders to track the actual costs and quantities against the estimated values, thereby ensuring better project control.
  7. Legal Protection: In the event of disputes or claims, a bill of quantities serves as a crucial reference point, providing a clear and detailed account of the agreed-upon quantities and prices, which can help in resolving disputes more effectively and minimizing legal risks.

Benefits of a Bill of Quantities to the Client:

  1. Early problem identification: Tender design documents are reviewed in detail during the measurement process, meaning errors, co-ordination issues and missing details will be found and corrected/provided before the tender is issued to contractors.
  2. More appetite to tender: There will be more appetite from contractors to tender a scheme; the BoQ is the ultimate tool for pricing the job. If the tender documents don’t include a BoQ, each contractor, or their subcontractors, will have to undertake their own measure of the project so that they can price it accurately. This is a significant amount of work and especially in the current market, contractors will be deterred from tendering if no BoQ is included.
  3. More competitive process: This also means the process will be more competitive as more contractors are likely to tender.
  4. A reduced tender period: Contractors will not need to have a Bill of Quantities undertaken before they can start pricing the scheme.
  5. Standardised tender returns: The returns received will be on the same basis, in a standardised format and will be comparable with little or no assumptions, giving the Client confidence that the tender returns are on a like-for-like basis.
  6. A detailed tender analysis can be undertaken: This ensures that there are no errors in the contractor’s price, giving clients more cost certainty when going into contract.
  7. Accurate Monthly Valuations: Monthly valuations can be accurately assessed against the measured works, ensuring that contractors are only paid for work completed
  8. Conflict Reduction: Any variations/ additional works can be accurately measured and priced using the rates in the BoQ, reducing the risk of conflict during the construction process.

In a nutshell, Bills of Quantities, both client and contractor side, play a critical role in ensuring the smooth execution of construction projects, promoting transparency, accuracy, and effective communication between all parties involved. If you would like to discuss the production of a Bill of Quantities for your next project, whether you are a client or a contractor, please do contact us through our Contact us page.