Cost Management, Quantity Surveying, how much do quantity surveyors charge

How much do Quantity Surveyors charge?

3rd March 2021   |   Jamie Barrett   |   Reading Time: 5 minutes

This guide will explain to you, as a potential client, how much you can expect to pay a Quantity Surveyor for your project.

If you are undertaking a significant building project, you may need the services of a Quantity Surveyor to work out how much the project will cost. So it makes sense that you need to know how much Quantity Surveyors charge.

The role of the Quantity Surveyor

Quantity Surveyors can:

  • produce a list of all of the items to consider
  • produce an estimate of the costs for each of these items including possible options/alternatives
  • update you on costs as the project develops
  • help you find a reputable building contractor for the works
  • produce contract documentation
  • evaluate the works on-site and 
  • make recommendations for payment. 

A Quantity Surveyor can continually refine the construction costs as the project develops to reflect any changes in its size or complexity. This allows decisions or compromises to be made during the project rather than storing up unforeseen or uncontrollable additional fees until the end. 

How much a Quantity Surveyor charges can vary considerably as there are no longer standard fees scales published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Also, no two projects are the same which means that clients’ needs and requirements will differ. Quantity Surveyors will charge fixed fees if the scope is clearly defined and the project is not too complicated. Some may charge a fee that is a percentage of the construction cost or work on a time-charge basis. These three options are further explained below:

Lump Sum Agreement (fixed fee)

Lump-sum fees are a good option for projects where the scope of works required from the Quantity Surveyor is clearly defined. It is important to state and agree precisely what works, tasks and outputs will be completed for the agreed fee. This is because additional works, or any changes you make, will incur additional charges and usually at a higher hourly rate than the lump sum fee is based upon. 

Percentage Fees

Percentage fees give you a reasonable indication of what the total Quantity Surveyor fee will be, while also allowing for some flexibility if the project scope is increased. Percentages are based on the construction cost (excluding professional fees, development costs and value added tax). The fee will automatically be adjusted to take account of any changes in the estimated construction costs. 

A major concern for clients with this type of arrangement is that there is no incentive on the Quantity Surveyor to keep construction costs down, especially as they are advising on the budget and construction costs as design develops. This could pose as a conflict of interest. It is for this reason that we would advise you to select a firm that is regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). If opting to use a sole practitioner then you should ensure they are a member of the Institution. Regulated firms have a duty at all times to ‘act with integrity and avoid conflicts of interest and avoid any action or situation that are inconsistent with its professional obligations’.


Time charged fees work well at the beginning of a project when the scope has not been clearly defined and the construction costs are unknown. It is also suitable where you wish to commission a Quantity Surveyor to take part in a feasibility study, produce an outline budget, or any other one-off task or activity. Time charged fees provide flexibility with a pay as you need approach when used. It enables services to be put in place quicker than having to develop a brief, scope or wait for a fee proposal. This option offers the least financial certainty for you, so we suggest the Quantity Surveyor estimates the time involved and/or agrees a fee cap. 

Quantity Surveyor Fees 

As a guide, based on average fees for full services provided by Quantity Surveyors, both pre- and post-contract, you should expect to pay between 1.7% and 3.2% on construction values between £250,000 and £10,000,000. 

There are many factors that can affect how much Quantity Surveyors charge which are discussed later on. 

New Build (percentage of total construction cost)

Contract Value Traditional ContractDesign and Build Contract

Refurbishment (percentage of total construction cost)

Contract Value Traditional ContractDesign and Build Contract

Time Charged Hourly Rates

Grade Lower QuartileMedianUpper Quartile 
Sole practitioner £55£82£100
Principals excluding sole practitioner£80£100£105
All Principals, Partners and Directors£78£95£100
Associate £60£80£90
Senior Surveyor £50£68£75
Surveyor £40£50£60
Postgraduate/Assistant Surveyor £30£40£48

What factors affect Quantity Surveyor’s fees? 

The fees you pay for a Quantity Surveyor’s services will depend on the nature and scale of the project. There are several other factors that affect the average fee scales listed in the above tables, including (but not limited to):

  • Practice size, workload and reputation
  • Region of the country
  • Method of procurement
  • Contract type
  • Market sectors 
  • Schedule of Services
  • Economy

If the project involves an existing building or a listed property, the fees would be higher, due to additional complications. For example this could require the need to obtain details from specialist contractors and/or suppliers to gather more accurate figures rather than using estimated rates. 

Fees paid will ultimately come down to what you want the Quantity Surveyor to do and how long you want to use them. There are three distinct phases a Quantity Surveyor’s services fall under, as detailed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA):

Phase 1 (RIBA Stages 0-3) – Services up to planning submission; order of cost estimate for budget, cost plans, cost advice and cashflow forecast.

Phase 2 (RIBA Stage 4) – Services typically between planning submission and construction; pre-tender estimate, tender pricing document, tender documentation, tender report, and negotiation of tender price.

Phase 3 (RIBA 5-6) – Services during the construction phase; contract documents, valuations, recommendation for payment and agreement of final account. 

How do I choose between different Quantity Surveyors’ Fees? 

Quantity surveying is a service-based industry, so anything that affects the amount of time taken to deliver the work will impact the costs. Clearly defining the scope of a Quantity Surveyor’s services, duration of their involvement, and complexity of the project, will assist with producing an accurate fee estimate. 

However, when you are defining what you want the Quantity Surveyor to do for you, do not fall into the trap of cutting and pasting or even copying a Quantity Surveyor Schedule of Services from any source, without first thoroughly reviewing it for relevance. This could result in a significantly higher fee than you may need to spend. 

Don’t confuse cost with value. Cheaper does not necessarily mean best value, unless of course you are comparing “apples with apples”. It is worth taking the time to review the differing fees and schedules to ensure that they meet your requirements and scope of services. Do not be afraid to ask questions and delve into the detail, and even ask for examples or templates for the proposed service deliverables. 

Another element that affects cost, and potentially the quality of service, is whether the Quantity Surveyor intends to use an assistant or an experienced Quantity Surveyor. If an assistant is proposed, find out the level of supervision and quality control checking procedures they have in place. Perhaps ask the prospective Quantity Surveyor, who will be working on your project, for a copy of their CV and references. 

Finally, it is important there is a good rapport and trust between you and the prospective Quantity Surveyor. You will need to have a close and open working relationship that may need to be maintained over a long, and potentially stressful, period of time.   

Evolution5 provides Quantity Surveying services for clients in the South and London. If you would like to find out more, you can browse our quantity surveying service, see our projects, or request a fee and further information by getting in touch with us using the button below.