Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 2 - 31
replicate those results back home. Over the past three years, many
large U.S. corporations have started requiring quantity surveying in
their project RFPs; this shows a major shift from 10 years ago when
the practice was mostly unknown domestically.
"That shows the pace at which these services are growing in the
United States," Selby says.
Investing in Quantity Surveying
Selby is among the early wave of leading quantity surveyors bringing
their knowledge to the U.S. construction market. He came to the United
States 12 years ago, first working with Gardiner & Theobald and later
as the lead quantity surveyor for the East Coast at Turner & Townsend,
a construction consultancy firm. After finding success at Turner &
Townsend, Selby was recruited by Cumming in 2015 to operate in a
similar role and to lead its San Francisco area office. "The overall directive for me when I joined the company was to really start rounding out
the service line and expand our portfolio in the Bay Area," he says.
In two years, the San Francisco team grew from seven to nearly 30
people. During this time, the team transformed its cost-related service offerings from pure estimating to full quantity surveying, which
it now provides to many of the leading tech companies throughout
Silicon Valley. Cumming was so pleased with Selby's achievements
that it relocated him to New York at the beginning of 2017, with a
mission to replicate what he'd done in California for the company's
East Coast business. Today, Selby is responsible for seven East Coast
offices and roughly 30 employees.
"I think the one thing that sets us apart is the progressive way that
we approach our daily tasks and service delivery," Selby says. "We're
not just taking the mold that's set out for us by the market. We're
really trying to push the boundaries of what's possible, to make sure
we're giving the best service to our clients."
Cumming's investment in Selby is representative of how the
company sees quantity surveying as an important part of its future.
In the three years since Selby joined the construction management
firm, Cumming grew its quantity surveying and cost management
group from 80 to 130 people. "We've got teams of people who are taking these unique practices, unique workflows and unique skillsets
and impressing them on projects on a day-to-day basis," Selby notes.
life of the project. If it's working in a market where it knows there
is a shortage of steelworkers, the company can anticipate a related
increase in steel prices and nudge the client toward considering a
more cost-effective material such as concrete.
"Where we're really adding value to our clients, and where our
clients have benefited from this, is we're guiding their requirements
through best-practice processes," Selby says. "We are taking the early
elements of preconstruction and tying them into the procurement
process to drive results. Too often people concentrate on the deliverables of preconstruction and forget that it's the management of the
process, and all things that influence it, that truly brings a successful
project. This is what a quantity surveyor does."
The other major benefit of Cumming's approach is the comprehensive knowledge that quantity surveyors have of the project.
Under the traditional building method, the client works with different personnel at every stage: first the preconstruction professionals,
which are traditionally architects, then the contractors and each
of the other individual stakeholders. But by combining quantity
surveying with construction management, there is no handoff between the stages of Cumming's projects. The same surveyor oversees
everything, so when a change happens they have the history and
knowledge of that project to understand where the change is coming
from and to develop plans to mitigate risk.
Even for jobs that do not require a quantity surveyor and cost
management, Cumming has begun to implement some of its methodologies into its everyday activities simply because they've proven
so effective. "The beauty of it is that we're delivering this at no extra
cost to our clients," Selby says.
The company is preparing to open more offices in the coming years,
each of which will have a quantity surveyor like Selby. "The nature of
our industry is that we've got to constantly keep improving, we've got
to constantly keep delivering," he says. "The reason why we are one
of the largest independently owned consultancies is because we're
aggressive and we adapt to change as we continuously grow."
has found more U.S.
clients want quantity surveying
services to control project costs.
Having an independent voice overlooking every element of the project helps to reign in excessive spending and costly decision-making.
Cumming is moving away from milestone preconstruction estimating toward a methodology that implements target value design. This
approach enables the company to better hold designers accountable
for the allowances that fall within their design, ensuring that they
stay within agreed-upon price points. On the contractor side, it helps
Cumming home in on procurement costs to ensure all costs remain
in line with expectations. "We're really trying to bring that down,"
Selby says. "We're trying to drive procurement to the values we set in
Cumming's advantage is that it looks closely at local, regional
and national market conditions to project pricing throughout the
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