Commercial Management

Quantity Surveying Dictionary

Written by:

Nick Adams



Welcome to our Quantity Surveying Dictionary, a guide to key terms used within the Quantity Surveying profession in the UK. Whether you’re a professional in the industry or simply curious about the terms we use, this dictionary aims to provide clarity and insight. Below are definitions for 20 essential terms:

Application for Payment

A formal request made by a contractor or subcontractor for payment for work completed or materials supplied as per the terms of the contract. It details the amount due and the corresponding work stages or milestones achieved.

Bill of Quantities (BoQ)

A comprehensive document used in the construction industry that provides detailed itemised breakdowns of materials, parts, and labour required for a construction project. It is prepared from design drawings and specifications to provide an estimate of the construction costs and forms the basis for tendering and contract administration.

Contract Instruction

A formal directive given by the client or their representative to the contractor. It may relate to changes in the work scope, methods, sequences, or other aspects of the contract. Such instructions are legally binding, provided they are within the stipulated terms of the contract.

Cost Plan

An estimated projection of the financial costs of a construction project. It provides a detailed breakdown of the anticipated project costs within a structured format. The cost plan evolves as the project progresses, moving from an initial rough estimate to a more detailed and refined cost as designs and specifications become clearer.

Cost to Complete

An estimation of the financial resources required to finish a construction project. It’s derived by adding the costs already incurred to the future forecast of expenditure. This metric helps in assessing the financial viability and progress of a project.

Cost Value Reconciliation (CVR)

A financial report that compares the actual costs incurred in a project to the budgeted costs. CVR helps in understanding the project’s financial health, highlighting any overspends or potential savings.

Design and Build

A construction procurement method where a single entity (the design-build contractor) is contracted to provide both design and construction services. This approach streamlines the project by ensuring unified workflow and responsibility, often leading to time and cost savings.

Expert Witness

A professional with specialised knowledge and expertise in a particular field, in this context, quantity surveying, who provides testimony in legal disputes related to construction projects. They offer impartial insights and clarifications on technical aspects, helping courts make informed decisions.

Extensions of Time

A provision in a construction contract that allows the contractor additional time to complete the project, without incurring liquidated damages. It’s typically granted when delays occur due to reasons beyond the contractor’s control.

Final Account

The conclusive financial statement detailing all costs related to a construction project. It represents the agreed total value of the contract, accounting for all previous payments, variations, and any additional costs or savings.

Fixed Price Lump Sum

A type of construction contract where the contractor agrees to complete the project for a set price. Regardless of the actual costs incurred, the contractor is bound to this amount, bearing any cost overruns or benefiting from cost savings.

Liquidated Damages

A predetermined sum of money that a party (typically the contractor) agrees to pay to the other party (typically the client) for each day the project is delayed beyond the agreed completion date. It’s a compensation for breach of contract rather than a penalty.

New Rules of Measurement (NRM)

A suite of documents issued by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) that provides a standardised methodology for capital cost planning, procurement, and whole life costing. NRM offers best practice guidance, ensuring consistency and clarity in the measurement, description, and quantification of building works.

Reimbursable Contract

A type of contract where the contractor is reimbursed for actual costs incurred during the project, often with an added fee for profit and overhead. This contract is used when the project scope is uncertain, and it provides flexibility, as costs can be adjusted based on actual expenses.

Remeasurement Contract

Also known as a re-measurable or measure and value contract, this agreement allows for the adjustment of the contract price based on actual measurements of the work done. It’s commonly used in projects where the scope is not well-defined at the outset, ensuring fair payment for the contractor based on the actual quantity of work completed.

Request for Information (RFI)

A formal query raised by contractors, subcontractors, or other stakeholders during a construction project seeking clarifications or additional information. The RFI process ensures that any ambiguities, discrepancies, or uncertainties in project documents, designs, or specifications are addressed promptly.


A portion of the agreed contract price, withheld by the client or main contractor, to ensure that the contractor completes the specified works and rectifies any defects. Typically, half of the retention amount is released upon completion, with the remainder after the defect liability period.

Standard Method of Measurement (SMM)

A consistent methodology adopted for measuring building works to ensure uniformity in the quantities and descriptions of items. In the UK, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has set out a SMM entitled the New Rules of Measurement (NRM), which is widely used for preparing bills of quantities.


A formal offer or proposal made by contractors or subcontractors to execute specific works or supply materials at a stated price. It’s part of the procurement process where the client selects a contractor to carry out the project.


Any change or alteration to the original scope of works in a construction contract. Variations can be additions, omissions, or other changes which might affect the project’s overall cost and completion time.

We hope you have enjoyed our Quantity Surveying Dictionary. If you would like us to define any further industry terms, just get in touch!

Written by:

Nick Adams


Commercial Management
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