From estimates to excellence: Exploring Bills of Quantities and the key to a successful handover

25th July 2023

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Soben Director, Ian Tucker, explains why accurate Bills of Quantities are essential – and how the right handover between estimating and site delivery teams is the real key to success.


In short, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), a Bill of Quantities is a detailed, itemised and quantified schedule of the works required to construct a project. The bills are then issued to contractors to cost and submit a tender for a client whose goal is to win and undertake a construction project.

Bills of quantities (BoQs) provide a detailed breakdown of all the materials, quantities and costs needed to fulfil the project. This information allows for accurate cost estimation which helps with budgeting, securing finance as well as determining the feasibility of the project.


Efficiency is key

It is important for BoQs to be prepared accurately as this will lead robust estimates being produced. In the construction industry, tenders are produced in rapid timescales, so having accurate bills goes a long way to help delineate all stages of the design. Time pressures mean BoQs need to be as accurate as possible. This allows an extra level of security and saves time during the bid process when the pressure is on.

If the bills have been written accurately then they will stand up to scrutiny and audit, should the project go live. By implementing diligence upfront, the possible disputes and the need for advisory will be minimised.


Soben’s first class offering

Bills of quantities serve as a benchmark for evaluating changes such as design modifications that may occur during the construction process. Soben offers forensic reviews at the early stage of the process. By highlighting errors earlier, we can identify risks and opportunities for each element of the project, helping to make informed decisions about the project and build. For example, if a change is needed, Soben works collaboratively with the design team to resolve the issue.

With industry leading timescales, Soben is dynamic and can deploy resource quickly. Our large in-house team can be ramped up and down to suit client needs – producing bills of quantities in a 2–3-week period (depending on the size of the project), allowing clients to tender with confidence.


The importance of a good handover

A close relationship between estimating and site delivery teams is essential to the smooth running of a project – and this starts as soon as the project is converted. Recognising the value of a quality handover, and to support our ongoing commitment to clients, Soben now offers a free 1-day handover session to support the transition from estimating to site commercial team on every successful tender.

Thanks to our laser-sharp focus on granularity and accuracy, we’re there to support our clients with the vital transfer of knowledge, presenting the risks and ensuring all stakeholders know what to look out for as the project progresses.


Soben’s Project Experience

In the past 18 months, Soben has worked on some of the world’s largest and most complex construction and engineering projects, delivering over 400 bills of quantities, with a combined project construction value of more than £20 billion. We turn valuable insights from these projects into practical experience – examining actual scenarios to improve outcomes on every new project we undertake. Here are just a few examples of Soben’s bills of quantities projects around the world:


Old Oak Common HS2 station

London, UK, 2019

Old Oak Common is set to be the best-connected and largest new railway station ever built in the UK. Soben worked with Balfour Beatty VINCI SYSTRA through all aspects of the pre-construction scheme providing detailed bills of quantities and estimating across all aspects of Contract Sum Analysis (CSA) and Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing & Heating (MEPH).

Our detailed quantification provided auditable and fully scoped pricing documents for the supply chain to provide lump-sum estimates for the project. Our estimating teams also provided detailed first principle estimates to ensure the supply chain was providing the best value for the project


Brisbane Waterfront

Brisbane, Australia, 2023

Brisbane Waterfront is the city’s new business and tourist destination. Maximising its prime riverside location, the redevelopment will connect the river and the city to create a new public precinct comprising two premium commercial towers, riverfront dining, retail space and a large landscaped public realm.

Soben delivered detailed bills of quantities for the prestigious development, a complicated project due to the site being on an existing landmark area in the city. Playing a vital role, Soben supported John Holland with the preparation of accurate and complete scope of works, gap analysis and errors from the issued design information, as well as preparation of the bills in accordance with the client’s requirements. Soben ensured all design gaps and discrepancies were picked up to allow the client to make appropriate updates in the budgets.

Working closely with John Holland’s estimating team, Soben developed design information required to be captured in the measurement and bills.


The clarity of bills of quantities

Bills of quantities are imperative in bringing clarity, consistency and accountability in construction projects. Accurate bills provide high-level cost management, streamline procurement, and act as a valuable reference for contractual obligations and potential dispute resolutions.

More than that, post-tender, BoQs become a crucial tool for project management and control, providing a base for monitoring the progress of work and allowing for effective measurement and valuation of finished tasks. Adopting best practices such as forensic reviews, effective handovers, and referring back to bills of quantities post-contract allows project managers to assess changes from the initial plan, identify potential issues and work proactively to keep projects on track and on budget.


To discuss how Soben can support your team with our free one-day handover service, contact Ian below:


Ian Tucker

Director  – Specialist Services, EMEA

[email protected]
+44 (0)797 270 7153
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