Surveying and Construction Management

Career in Focus: Surveying and Construction Management

From kitchens to LUAS lines, all construction projects must be carefully planned to meet expected costs and completion dates  – hence the importance of good surveying and construction management. Quantity surveyors have the unenviable task of formulating a budget and ensuring it is adhered to. They assess each stage of the process and examine all costs relating to materials, labour, taxes, and so on.

About Surveying and Construction Management

A building surveyor monitors the structural health of buildings for any possible defects, and oversees maintenance and conversion projects when desired or required. They often work in tandem with a building services engineer, who has responsibility for designing, installing, and maintaining a building’s internal systems: from lifts to swimming pools. Construction managers have a more general role to play in the construction process by planning, organising, and managing the overall building project, and focusing on resources such as finance, labour, plant, and materials.

Although the outlook is currently bleak for the construction sector, there is some cause for optimism: the development of niche opportunities such as in the energy sector and the green economy, where semi-state bodies have encouraging capital investment plans. Also, according to the Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland, it is likely that development opportunities will arise as NAMA releases working capital to developers for the completion of unfinished estates and the development of land.

Education

There are several dedicated Quantity Surveying courses in Irish higher-level education. A Quantity Surveying course will cover subjects such as Construction Economics, Project Cost Management, Contract Law, Construction Law, Contract Administration, and Land Surveying. Projects form a major part of all courses, and many also require students to undertake an extensive period of work experience. Health & Safety and Environmental Sustainability, both of which are financial as well as ethical concerns, are increasingly important elements of a Quantity Surveying degree.

Dundalk and Limerick ITs offer the only third-level Building Surveying qualifications in Ireland. Modules covered in this four-year degree include Building Technology, Building Design & Performance, and Building Conservation/Renovation.

Building Services Engineering is available to study at Cork, Dublin, and Waterford Institutes of Technology. The mechanical, electrical, and construction aspects of building systems (heating, air-conditioning, water supply, etc.) are studied here. Energy efficiency is a particularly important consideration throughout the course.

Other Options

There are a large number of Construction Studies and Construction Management options in the CAO system, including degrees and higher certificate courses. Construction and Construction Management courses include subjects such as Construction Technology, Site Surveying, Drawing & CAD, Measurement & Costing, Quantity Surveying, and Legal Studies.

The one-year, FETAC Level 5 Certificate in Construction Technology is a good foundation for all of the above courses and careers. Students are introduced to key skills such as Building Construction, Mathematics for Engineering, Materials Science, Health & Safety, and Mechanics, as well as receiving work experience.

The Work

 The main employers of quantity surveyors, building surveyors, service engineers, and construction managers are construction companies and property developers. However, you can also find work in government departments and specialist surveying companies, or gain employment as an independent consultant or in a private practice.

 Quantity surveyors are often referred to as building accountants. Their main concern is cost control before, during and after construction. They begin managing costs from the feasibility stage of a project and continue to do so right through to tendering and construction. When a building project is complete, they may be involved in preparing tax depreciation schedules, estimating replacement costs for insurance purposes, and, if necessary, mediation and arbitration. They must often ensure that work is carried out efficiently, approving payments to suppliers and employees, and preparing bills.

The role of the construction manager involves overseeing everything that happens on the building site. This can mean hiring and supervising building staff and sub-contractors, managing specific projects, purchasing or renting equipment and materials, ensuring each step in the process takes place efficiently and on time, implementing new technologies, and making sure health and safety or environmental requirements are fulfilled. Some construction managers can specialise in a particular area, while others oversee the whole project.

Did you know?

London’s Olympic Stadium was built using 6,500 cubic metres of concrete recycled from previous Olympic venues. Planning was therefore both environmentally conscientious and respectful of Olympic history – pretty impressive!

Further Resources

Ø  Society of Chartered Surveyors (SCS): www.scsi.ie

Ø  Construction Industry Federation (CIF): www.cif.ie

Ø  Irish Institute of Surveyors (IIS): www.irish-surveyors.ie


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