Pillar One
    Strategic Definition

    Pillar Two
    BIM Definition

    Pillar Four
    Technology Skills Design

    Pillar Five
    Technology Skills Technical Design

    Pillar Nine

    Pillar Ten
    Asset Management

Understanding the role of the quantity surveyor in BIM

It is important to understand how the role of the quantity surveyor could change or adapt in the future; this is because the direction of the industry is still being defined and developed in line with UK standards level 2 and 3 principles of BIM.

Henry Riley research took the approach to develop a number of themes associated with 5D BIM:

  • quantification from models, including automatic updated quantification once rules for sectors, clients and pricing methods have been established  using NRM standards in conjunction with BIM models (noting client-specific requirements where necessary)  library management:
  • applying rate libraries to the quantified information; and
  • creating cost databases per sector or client
  • the ability to file share with design team and contractors alike; and
  • improved benchmarking capability
  • moving away from detailed measurement and spending more time on improving value; and
  • understanding where value can be improved and understanding this earlier in the project timeline, ensuring savings can be achieved through the design development.


It is clear that 20 per cent of waste can be saved during construction if the designs used do not contain inherent clashes that could be prevented. However, the industry could also be able to save 20 per cent on the pre-tender period, not in terms of fees, but in what is being designed and its associated outturn cost, as a project’s design principles become leaner at tender and construction commencement.

It appears that the future of quantity surveying in the short to medium term will be, much as it is now, with a quantity surveyor providing detailed estimates and pricing documents based on design information. There could be a shift away from detailed measurement by hand but this, at least in the short term, will be replaced by detailed quality assurance procedures to ensure the information is being interpreted correctly. Furthermore, the quality assurance role will become vital to the project team, as the quantity surveyor will be the first to use the information rather than calculate it and initially this will be a time-consuming role. Finally, a bigger expectation for the quantity surveyor is to drive the value decisions within the design teams and client because, with better benchmarking and analysis, the quantity surveyor will have the data to lead these conversations.

Lack of 5D case studies

Throughout the BIM journey to date there have not been many case studies available to read and review with either a 5D bias, or that contain clear quantity surveyor outputs. The various examples that do exist provide only a brief overview of what 5D could be but, for example, just being able to measure steelwork within a model is only part of a solution. For 5D practices to become the norm for quantity surveyors, the quantity surveyor role needs to be undertaken in its entirety within a BIM environment, and the industry needs case studies to demonstrate this.

Download  Henry Riley’s case study on BIM in 5D