Quantity Surveyor, Contract Administrator, Employer’s Agent and Project Manager Michelle Lowe certainly does have an impressive number of arrows in her quiver when it comes to properties and project deliveries.
This week as part of our #AskOurExpert series, Michelle Lowe provides us with an insight into how Developers and Funders can fine-tune their supporting teams.
In a nutshell, what does a Quantity Surveyor do?
“Ultimately, he or she controls, assesses, predicts, manages and works towards keeping a strategic control over the costs.”
Can you tell us about yourself, how did you decide to become a Quantity Surveyor and how did your career unfold from there?
“I have been in the construction industry since I was 17, so I took the decision to pursue this particular industry.
I would describe quantity surveying as the hard frontline of delivering any construction project and that’s where I have started. I spent 10 years working as a QS for a main contractor.
As my career developed, I went into consulting where I picked up different roles: from Contract Administrator, to Employer’s Agent and Project Manager, so I have acquired relevant experience on all of these different roles.
I wouldn’t choose any other industry, I really think it’s amazing.
Employer’s Agents and Contract Administrators are the people that run the contract for Developers and Funders when dealing with projects of a relevant size.
So when I work in either capacity, I sit at the right-hand side of Developers and Funders and deliver the construction project for them.
You can’t place a contract with a contractor and realistically expect it to be successfully delivered because that just won’t happen.
There are controls, checks and supervisions that must be performed by the competent experts for any project to be successfully completed.
I also specialise in Project Management.
The Project Manager is the person who is really taking charge of the whole process, organising and appointing tasks, getting the right people speaking to one another. In short, the Project Manager is responsible of getting the project built on behalf of the Developers and Funders.”
So could a Developer realistically approach you and say: “There you go Michelle, here’s my project, bring it to life” ?
“I’d love that, that’s my preferred situation.”
How often does that happen?
“Quite a bit, I have 3 projects where I am acting as both Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor at the moment and I find that the best way to operate.
When I am doing both roles, I have a truly holistic approach about the project delivery.
I can understand the whole process on a deeper level and, once the client has assigned it to me, I can manage it all going forward.
I think if you are only a QS on a project, you might only be there a day a month, so you don’t really get involved in the daily operations. Any disputes, queries, variations or even cost growths, become harder to challenge or be removed when you don’t know certain details or aren’t deeply involved.
Whereas when you are the Project Manager, you have more control over what happens and therefore can effectively and seamlessly affect the outcome.
I certainly prefer that kind of holistic approach and being able to overview the whole process as Project Manager when possible.”