What part should the quantity surveyor play in the procurement and management of Electrical and Mechanical(M&E) services? This has been a vexed question for many years and remains a contentious subject when both engineers and quantity surveyors vie to include the procurement, administration and cost management of M&E services in their respective appointments.
Some clients insist on one or the other consultant being responsible, while other clients show no preference and leave it to the consultant team to resolve.
From a quantity surveyor's point of view, where M&E services make up a significant proportion of the overall building cost – say anything above 10 to 15% - it is essential that the quantity surveyor takes responsibility for the financial management and cost control of the entire project and not limit their service to the “building works” alone.
Such financial management can only be effective if the quantity surveyor is involved from estimating stage right through to final account, in close cooperation with the respective engineers responsible for the design of the M&E services. In larger, more sophisticated projects, the mechanical, electrical and electronic services, including security services, smoke detection, fire protection and the like can make up 40% or more of the project value.
It is generally accepted that bills of quantities are essential for proper pre- and post-contract cost management and that it is not possible to effectively cost manage projects, or part thereof, in the financial vacuum that exists when tenders are called for on the basis of drawings and specification alone. Bills of quantities introduce a discipline from tender stage through to final account stage which provides the tool to contain the cost within a significantly narrower band.
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