Focus on…. Quantity Surveyor

Celebrating the breadth of jobs available in the construction industry we will be publishing a series of articles, each focusing on a different role. Today’s focus is on the role of a Quantity Surveyor.


Lisa Elderfield is a Quantity Surveyor who has been with Beard since July 2016.


I asked her some questions about her career within construction.


How long have you been in the industry?

I have been in the industry since 1998 – wow 19 years!


How did you get into construction?

Like many people, I kind of “fell” into it!

I started in the industry as a Project Secretary for Sir Robert McAlpine, but looking back my Father and two brothers are in the industry as well, so maybe it was fate!


 What sort of things does your job entail?

Each day is so different! But generally:

I tend to work in the Swindon office or on site, depending on what the agenda is for my day. I try to plan my week in advance depending on what tasks need to be completed, time management is critical in my role.

If I take today for example;

Working onsite at Eton

Quick catch up with Project Manager

Walk around site for an hour, just to observe what is happening in each area (this normally creates a lot more questions for me to ask back at the office!)

Ask relevant questions from site walk. Today they were;

  • Query with my assistant regarding the monitoring of costs for the potential additional works proposed relating to plaster skimming of existing walls to ascertain the potential impact of this against our bill of quantities (costs), ensuring that the client is kept fully informed of any proposed additional cost liability.
  • Ask Project Manager about the current status of asbestos removal and survey works?
  • Query why ceiling works are not progressing as well as expected?
  • Query what our direct labour are currently doing? 

Attend a meeting with the Reinforced Concrete Frame subcontractor to discuss financial differences on the account

Meet with the Electrical subcontractor to discuss a variation relating to the lighting control specification

Discuss the CVR forecast with Contracts Manager and Project Manager, specifically the management and labour resources anticipated for the project going forward, and the Plan for Success document (which is an internal risk and opportunity schedule which is populated by the site team and figures are forecasted for both predicted loss and profit against specific items)

Start compiling the CVR (Cost and Value Reconciliation) where the value and costs are analysed for the project for a specific point in time and meetings are held with the Senior Management team to discuss

Respond to urgent emails

Raise a few Request for Information forms (RFI’s) on 4P (our document process management tool) to the Architect on some procurement / design queries

Spend some time on pricing variations for the client’s Project Quantity Surveyor for review and agreement

The main focus of my role is to ensure that the project is completed on budget, therefore I tend to get involved in most things on site as everything tends to have some financial impact upon the project.


What training has your job entailed?

An HNC in Building Studies (part time on day release) for two years, followed on by a three-year part-time BSc Hons degree in Construction Business Management. I obtained a First!

I did all my training whilst in full time employment.


What skills/qualities do you think you need to be a good quantity surveyor?

I believe that strong interpersonal skills are crucial to the role, as a quantity surveyor you have to communicate with several different parties involved in the project;

  • Client and the design team
  • Subcontractors
  • Suppliers
  • Internal team members
  • Members of the public


It is vital that strong relationships are formed with all the above, as this will help people to open up on problems, and communicate with you effectively.

Being a good negotiator also helps, always strive to achieve a win – win outcome, and always prepare before a meeting and ensure that the planned objective of the meeting is achieved!

Good time management is important as there are always lots of different tasks to be done often all at the same time.


What do you like most about your job?

 I like the flexibility of my job. I also like the fact that my day is always different!

I enjoy working as a team and find that the construction industry is full of people with great character!


Are there any projects that have stood out in your career so far?

A student accommodation block in South Kensington, London for Imperial College £50m D&B project (this was my first project and it was a challenge but made a good margin and finished on time).

I was an assistant on a project to carry out an extensive refurbishment of a listed magistrates court and police station façade and new build apartments in Victoria, London £40m JCT Design and Build. This project was technically challenging and was handed over late and lost money unfortunately.

I believe Eton College (the project I am working on at the moment, might well be one I remember -hopefully for good reasons! We will see in a few years’ time!)


Do you feel working for Beard differs from elsewhere you have worked, and if so how?

Yes, I believe that Beard really do let people get on with their job and provide the relevant assistance/ support to do that well. I feel that I am empowered to make decisions and feel like the site team is trusted to do the right thing for the project without negativity from senior management which sometimes happens in larger companies.


Would you recommend Beard as an employer?



What would you say to anyone considering a career in construction?

There are a lot of job roles available in the construction industry and it doesn’t mean you have to be working outside in the cold all the time! i.e. design management, quantity surveying, site management, material procurement, health and safety, admin roles, M&E management, design consultancy, engineering etc.


 What do you think we can do to encourage more women into the construction industry?

Advertise and promote the different types of roles available in the construction industry to schools / academies. Perhaps a stronger presence at open days / talks in secondary schools etc.

Most people I speak to don’t know what a quantity surveyor is! And I am often confused with a building surveyor.

Highlight the benefits specifically to women, being able to have a career that provides mental stimulation / good humour / good package of reward / every day is different / working with different people regularly / working in different environments, whilst still being able to be a Mum and have a family life if that is your choice.

Keep site accommodation to a good standard, especially the toilets! (especially as a woman this is always a dreaded aspect!!)

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