What A Week!

The third week ended yesterday in what can be described as a sleep deprived marathon! I don’t think I have been this tired in a long time, the constant learning is incredibly satisfying but incredibly tiring. So what have I been up to this week I hear you ask?

The first half of the week was very busy. I managed to rectify the issues with the pricing document I had managed to screw up on last week, so that was good, and I managed to measure some more aspects of the build which I wouldn’t have tried earlier, so a small feat within itself! I had a meeting with a friend of mine who works in the M&E (mechanical and engineering) department, and we have agreed on getting some figures together for the M&E aspects of the job, after going back to the spec for the build multiple times as it wasn’t clear whether or not a heat pump would be required. This all done we managed to get on and make good headway into the final stages of the document. 


The glorious weather on Tuesday saw a site visit to Winchester to what can only be described as the most beautiful place to construct anything. I can go into details but I am waiting on the OK to release some pictures of the site and some details of whats going on there and what is planned to be going on in the future. I can however say that after meeting with the PM, Structural Engineer and Architect I was very satisfied to be allowed to put across my own views on the project going forward. Everyone listened and took note of what I said and this was quite the achievement for me. 


The second half of the week was a return to measurements, SPONS and pricing documents. I was tasked with putting together a pre tender document for some landscaping works at a project in London we are currently working on. This site I am afraid can not and will not be reviled due to agreements with the client not to do so. I did however get introduced to SMM7, a measurement book which gives you what needs to be measured for an element of the build. For example when measuring stone slabs, you must give a measurement for the slabs and mortar used to set them as one, a measurement for the hardcore below it and a measure for the membrane, or cell web being used. Its not an easy thing to use SMM7, especially when your new to it, I did however soon get to grips with it and used it to measure service trenches and ducting, so there was another little victory for the week.


Apart from all this there is little to add I am afraid, office based work was the main focus however a BBQ put on by work on Friday saw a very nice end to the week. I feel I am learning daily and this is good, however I do feel like I make a hell of a lot of mistakes, not major ones, but lots of smaller ones, which can be very aggravating at times. I think when this happens I need to learn to just take a step back, gather myself and try again. After all I am just a learner at the minute. Its taken its toll this week I feel, I have learnt lots and regularly collapsed into a heap on arriving home but is learning not what its all about?


Well a very busy second half of the week I must say. Lots to talk about so I will jump straight in!

First on the agenda SPONS! If any of you don’t know about spins, it is coupled with the NRM as a bible for those QS’s among us! Spons is a pricing book which for the past 3 days I have lived out of. Its an awesome bit of kit once you get used to it, or for me once you get your measurements wrong and come in around 200,000 over your costings 😉 I had spent 2 and a half days working on a cost analysis for a post tender document, however, I soon realised the trials and tribulations of calibrating measuring software, that is a realised them  and a half days in :s Going through the project with my colleague made me realise this and I could have honestly punched the computer, and myself, for making such a stupid mistake. I had calibrated all my measurements wrong, not largely wrong, minority wrong. This was a nightmare, and a pat on the back all at the same time. I was only marginally off, which meant that only 70% of the work needed starting again. However…. I realised I had learnt such a vast amount about measuring and estimating when I started it again, with a properly calibrated piece of software may I add, and finished what had just 2 days ago taken a full day to do in a matter of 2 hours. I didn’t get subjected to any stick as apparently everyone has done it, I was clearly annoyed yet everyone was supportive. Another tribulation turned triumph in my book, we all make mistakes, I’m just glad mine was this early on before we sent the document out! So what did I learn here? Always double check, always be clear on your workings and always always always get someone else to check too! Spons all figured out I left the office, all be it later than usual, with a properly priced first half of a document, which despite my embarrassment at making such an easy mistake, I soon forgot about and moved forward from…even if I only moved a mile down the road to the pub with one of my other colleagues 😀


So what else has been going on I here you cry, well it seems we have all taken a shining to “It Aint Half Hot Mum”, a sitcom series from the 70’s and 80’s which the min line is “I bet they didn’t teach you about that Mr University Education” now a friendly reminder from my team that when I learn something and get very happy with myself I am soon brought back down to planet QS. I have learnt how to measure steel and foundations properly also this week, which on first peek at the drawings, I was very much over faced. Turns out its one of my favourite things to measure, I wonder if thats because the drawing looks like a colouring book when your finished with it? My first attempt was very much a disaster with foundations, only because from a long calculation I missed a division symbol on excel and that soon bumped up the price to 350,000 (it should have been 13000 oooops). Its all part of the fun of learning and everyone has been very supportive over my mistakes and reminisced about their own mistakes as a trainee. Its very much a positive experience even when it all goes bottoms up!


One of my highlight of the week was one of the partners, who is very involved with our course, explaining how much he enjoyed one of my pieces of work he came across. Yes mother it was the piece on your house, and he was very impressed with it. Personally, it is very nice to have someone who is interested in what I do outside of the office rather than just in it!


I also had my first experience of claiming expenses this week. It was somewhat funny to see my managers face when I gave him my expenses sheet after only 2 weeks of work. It was also on the other hand doing something which I associated with people higher up in the business, being extended to everyone. This seems like a company who cares, not just about your well-being but about your development. So thanks again for that Ridge.


The agenda next week then. All I know is there is a tender document to rectify and my first visit to a construction site that is well underway. Despite the project being a small one I can’t wait to be shown first hand how to take measurements off while a project is ongoing. Furthermore, its always very satisfying to be a part of a project which is ongoing, as I learnt when working as a labourer, you can stand back and say I did that and its going to be there for a good length of time, and when its finished you can say you were a part of it, a more satisfying work experience I am yet to feel! Other than that I think it will be more Spons, NRM and maybe starting to look at some of the legal side of the role, so at least I can cover my arse if I get into trouble with a client 😉


I think I shall leave it there for this week, I am absolutely knackered to say the least and have a busy weekend ahead. Enjoy your weekend everyone and I shall post again next week!

Wait a minute is it only Tuesday?


So, it’s only Tuesday and I already feel the need to post again as since Thursday last week there has been many developments.

Friday gave way to my first experience of QS hands on work. I was assigned with measuring some drawings to check if the GIA (gross internal area) the architect calculated was correct. It wasn’t far off but I sorted it out, you know it’s all in a days work 😉 this was the first boost as I felt I was doing something professional. Second job of the day was to manually check some of the calculations done by other employees. I didn’t find any mistakes so either I was wrong or we both were. Chances are we were both right because well, we are all brilliant of course!

The weekend was the usually relaxing affair…not! Two dogs and a house to clean along with getting used to ironing shirts. Not the best of fun but then along came Monday. I am rubbish on Mondays but there wasn’t chance for that as I was going to my first site visit and meeting! I came prepared with my high vis jackets and hard hat( also known as a lid I have learnt) and I set off with my colleague to the site. Together we ended up talking about a career as a QS and it was great to have someone spend the time explaining all the ins and outs.

The site visit was to a project which had begun that day and a meeting with the PM, QS, Architect and structural engineer gave me a great insight into how the roles of each individual work while on project. Actually, as it turns out, everyone does a hell of a lot more than I thought. Arguments were at a minimum and the meeting soon led to a site tour. It was incredibly beneficial for me to see how a project develops and where my work will sit in the project and it’s life cycle. A great day on the whole and my colleague helped on both car journeys to inform me and encourage me into my working life, the gent seemed genuinely happy to see my excitement at my work and it was incredibly motivating for me.

Today started off well and continued on even better. Me and the colleague from the previous day are starting a post tender estimate for one of the jobs we looked at before our meeting. I was very proud to be asked to do the measurements and documents for the job. Being assured ” it doesn’t matter if your measurements are right or wrong, measure what you can and we will review it”. Another responsibility I was very humbled to have been offered. I opened up the drawings and began taking measurements and calculating floor finishes, guttering, down pipes, floor finishes, stair cases, screeds, foundations and much more. I then sat down in the afternoon to go through my measurements…

The question was, were any of them right…yes about 4 of the 30 ;). So what I thought was a great start was a good effort. However still no nasty comments or anyone making me feel stupid. The colleague who I was working with then sat with me, taking time from his very busy schedule, to help and show me the methods I should use. Also he helped me to get my head around the proper use of the NRM 1 ( new rules of measurement). I then started my measurements again and did the first few properly before closing for the day.

The past 3 days in the office have been brilliant. Working with my colleague has been brilliant he is very supportive and helpful in showing me the ropes. Calculating things in an industry standard format. He has taught me how to be clear in my calculations so clients can see the breakdown in an understandable manner.

The week is far from out and I am looking forward to learning more about the calculations and presenting them. I am excited to get working on the document and taking my measurements. It also looks like a trip to London is on the cards soon to see some sites that are further along in the sense of construction work. I feel settled and am enjoying the challenges now, and despite the early starts, I am fully committed to growing my skill set. The fruits of my labours are becoming evident and I feel a valued member of the team already. I think some of that has been helped by people’s positive reaction to my blog, to me and to genuinely wanting to help me grow as an individual into my career.

My goals for the rest of the week are to use NRM1 correctly and finish my estimate on budget. A simple sounding task but one which is proving time consuming and difficult. I have already improved on my work immensely just with an hour spent with a colleague. Let’s see if I can put it all into practice and get my figures to match! As you can see my bag for work is already packed and my jacket ready for the rain due tomorrow. As my fiancé likes to jokingly proclaim ” quantity surveyor in the house” when I get in I should maybe prove it by getting this document and my figures in the right working order…… I wonder if I will still get my tea made for me if I get it wrong?