Why you need a quantity surveyor

Building or buying a home is a big commitment. If you are like most people, it’s likely to be the largest financial transaction you will ever make, so it’s not surprising that the process can leave you feeling a bit apprehensive.

Purchase price, deposit, mortgage rate and repayments, building contract, sale and purchase agreement, land information – there are many aspects of building (or buying) a home which need to be addressed before you can move in and start unpacking. That’s why more and more Kiwis are turning to a professional quantity surveyor for project peace-of-mind.

What is a Quantity Surveyor?

Sometimes called a cost planner, cost engineer or building cost analyst, a quantity surveyor crunches the numbers so you can sleep at night. They are responsible for calculating what a construction project is going to cost, right down to the last door handle and light switch. They help you start off the project on the right track and finish up happy.

But that’s not all. A professional quantity surveyor can also make sure the construction costs and building process are managed as efficiently as possible. They’re skilled at setting out a detailed schedule of quantities (materials and labour) and drawing up contracts and agreements. You could say that quantity surveyors love spreadsheets and know how to use them!

Video credit: Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors

Why Use a Quantity Surveyor When Building?

Every construction project is a jigsaw of details. Can you keep track of all the pieces? That’s why people – both young and not so young, singles and couples – who are building a new home in New Zealand are turning to professional quantity surveyors: to take care of the details.

The pre-construction certainty a quantity surveyor can offer includes services like:

* a review of the proposed construction price, comparing it against current market rates.

* a review of the building report and LIM.

* a review of the building contract.

* an evaluation of the proposed builder and insurance options.

* making sure the payment plan schedule aligns with the construction programme, which then fits the bank’s terms and conditions.

Most importantly, by adding to your project someone who specialises in facts, processes and accuracy, you are mitigating the chance of a budget blowout or project derailment.

And – this is worth noting – the specialised quantity surveying may be a more economical service that you realise.

For instance, here at Property Values Limited, we offer a quantity surveying service (up to 3 hours of reviewing and preparing a written report on your domestic build or buy documents) for just $300+GST. That’s a tiny investment for a whole lot of assurance that your project is on the right track.

Why Use a Quantity Surveyor When Buying?

Buying an existing home can present you with challenges which a quantity surveyor can help with. For instance:

* is there dispute surrounding the EQC repair process?

* are there construction issues which have been ‘on-sold’ to the unsuspecting vendor?

* is money still owing on repairs?

* are the earthquake repairs not fully completed and signed off?

* are the estimates provided in your building report an accurate assessment of what the proposed work will cost?

You can avoid the headaches these situations create by bringing a professional quantity surveyor onto your team.

The Costs of Homes

If this is the first time you are building (or buying) a home, then – brace yourself – it’s likely to cost you more than you first thought. Many people get so excited by the prospect of owning their own home that they only focus on the deposit + mortgage = repayments equation. But there are a number of expenses which also need to be factored in:

Land Information Memorandum (LIM)

Sourced from your local council, this document gives you all the information the council has about the property, even if it’s currently bare land: zoning details, natural impacts (e.g. flooding, erosion), planned developments, lodged resource or building consents. Expect to pay the council between $250-450. If the seller offers to provide you the LIM, make sure it’s an up-to-date version.

Legal Fees

Okay, so you’ve got the LIM and other documentation, but what do all the details actually mean? Is everything legit and above board? It’s a sensible idea to engage a lawyer before you make an offer on a property or sign a building contract. Ask your friends or family for recommendations, as specialities (and fees) can vary.

Property Inspection

You’ve heard the horror stories: homes that leak, structures erected without consent, looming maintenance bills. Avoid these harrowing situations by spending $400-800 on an accredited property inspection, which will make sure the house complies with the NZ building standard. Again, sometimes the seller might offer a property report, but doing your own research is a sensible move.

Once You’ve Unpacked

Remember, you need to allow for paying the council rates, home insurance, and maintenance into your ongoing budget.

Just Ask

So, when you are ready to add certainty to the building (or purchase) of your new home, you need to chat with a quantity surveyor.

James Cameron is a professional quantity surveyor, licensed building practitioner (carpentry, Site 3) and director of Property Values Ltd.


021 288 1311

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