Glossary of Quantity Surveying Terms

Surveying and the construction industry in general, is full of interesting jargon.  Our intention is to make Surveyor ToolKit a haven of plain English as far as is reasonably practicable….

With that in mind, we will be updating this page regularly to ensure the key terms used are explained.

It is easy to get carried away with Surveyor Speak, so if we miss anything, please mention it in the comments and we will respond back to you and update the glossary accordingly.

Quantity Surveyor

A professional person working within the construction industry concerned with procurement, cost and contracts.

Professional Member MRICS

A professional surveyor who has completed the RICS’s Assessment of Professional Competence and continues to comply with the RICS’s stringent rules and regulations.

RICS

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – Professional body for surveyors.

Bills of Quantities

A document prepared to provide a tendering contractor with all the relevant information to ensure the contractor prices the works correctly. The priced document is then used as a control document throughout the construction process.

Tender Documents

A set of documents issued to tendering contractors to ensure all the contractors follow the same rules, the documents normally include the project drawings, Bills of Quantities or other tendering document together with the form of tender and formal invitation to tender.

Tender

Competitive or negotiated price submitted by a Contractor.

Tender Evaluation

The process of opening, examining and evaluating tender returns to determine the bidders’ responsibility, responsiveness and all other factors associated with selection of a bid for contract award.

Insolvency

Is the state of being unable to pay the money owed, by a person or company, on time; those in a state of insolvency are said to be insolvent.

Lead in / Lead time

A lead time is the latency between the initiation and execution of a process. For example, the lead time between the placement of an order and delivery of cladding materials from a manufacturer may be anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months. In industry, lead time reduction is an important part of lean manufacturing.

Sub-contractor

A person or business which has a contract (as an “independent contractor” and not an employee) with a contractor to provide some portion of the work or services on a project which the contractor has agreed to perform.

Payment Terms

Payment terms are the payment rules agreed with Sub-Contractors and suppliers. Payment terms are imposed to ensure that payments are received from Contractors within a reasonable and agreed period of time. Discount terms may be allowed in order to accelerate cash collections.

Vesting Certificate

Vesting Certificates can be used as evidence that ownership vests in the client upon payment, defeating third party claims such as claims of retention of title can help to identify items, if for example, the contractor becomes insolvent before the items have been delivered to site.

Collateral Warranty

A collateral warranty is a contract under which a professional consultant (such as an architect), a building contractor or a sub-contractor warrants to a third party (such as a funder) that it has complied with its professional appointment, building contract or sub-contract.

Market Conditions

Characteristic of a market into which a firm is tendering or in which a new project will be built, such as number of competitors, level of intensity of competitiveness, and the market’s growth rate.

Necessary Evil

Something unpleasant that must be accepted in order for a particular result. Like The Secret Surveyor

Lump Sum Contract

The traditional means of procuring construction, and still the most common form of Construction Contract.  Under a lump sum contract, a single ‘lump sum’ price for all of the works is agreed before the work begins.

Value Engineering (VE)

A method to improve the value of construction goods, products or services by using and examination of function.  Value, as defined, is the ratio of function to cost.  Value can therefore be increased be either improving the function or reducing the cost.

Outturn Cost

The actual final cost at the end of a period of activity, rather than those that were expected or calculated earlier.

Contract Works

The work specified to be undertaken in a construction contract.

Variations

Financial adjustments arising from instructions issued in accordance with the contract to vary the contract works.  This may include loss and expense claims.

Loss and Expense

Additional costs arising from delays to programme or the disruption to the performance of the contract works.

Liquidated Damages (also referred to as Liquidated and Ascertained Damages or LADs)

Damages whose amount the parties designate during the formation of a contract for the injured party to collect as compensation upon a specific breach (e.g. late completion).

Dutch Auction

Process during a competitive tendering scenario in which the tender price for a contract is negotiated down with the tenderers, until their is only one participant left to except the ‘auctioneers price’.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

A tax on land and property transactions.  Its full name is ‘stamp duty land tax’ (SDLT) but most people shorten it to ‘stamp duty’.  It is payable if you’re buying a house or flat costing £125,000 or more and it will be your main home.  For second properties stamp duty is payable on anything over £40,000.

Buy-to-let

The purchase of a property specifically to be let out.

Adjudication

A simple and efficient method of settling disputes, whereby an adjudicator ses his/her own knowledge and investigations, while weighing the evidence presented by the parties, in order to reach a decision that is legally binding until such time as the original dispute is referred to arbitration or the courts, or is settled between the parties themselves.

Arbitration

A procedure whereby two parties in dispute agree to be bound by the decision of an independent third party (the arbitrator). The role of an arbitrator is similar to that of a judge, though the procedures can be less formal and an arbitrator is usually an expert in his/her own right.