Building Surveyor

Building surveyors are mainly concerned with building materials. They apply their measuring and surveying skills to various tasks required by building contractors and quantity surveyors.

Building surveyors measure the building work already completed on sites by means of a very specific system, which is standardised throughout South Africa. The information obtained from measuring the work is used to issue monthly certificates and also to determine whether the company is running at a profit.
Before commencement of building projects, professional quantity surveyors make cost estimations. These estimates are presented in the form of complete lists of all items necessary to complete projects and are known as ‘bills of quantity’.

Building surveyors then analyse these bills of quantity and price all items such as materials, labour and plant. In this way they arrive at tender amounts, which are submitted as offers for building contracts.

When the building project is started, building surveyors prepare budgets and do the necessary financial planning for various projects within the larger overall project. They negotiate with manufacturers and suppliers of building materials for the best prices, while keeping the costs for the completion of each separate project in mind.

Building surveyors also need to ensure that the flow of materials to building sites runs smoothly to ensure that the right quantities are available where and when needed. When certain parts of buildings have been completed, building surveyors are responsible for surveying the completed work and issuing payment certificates, so contractors can be paid.

Building surveyors are responsible for the correct and timeous settlement of account of contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers of building materials.

Building surveyors can also work for, and assist, quantity surveyors; for example, in measuring the builders’ work and help to compile bills of quantity. They may also issue monthly valuation certificates, measure variations and help with the preparation of final accounts.

In large companies senior building surveyors mainly perform management functions. They advise the company on aspects such as legal documentation and the financial implications regarding the use of particular materials.

The building industry is continually being further mechanised and computers are therefore essential tools to building surveyors. This occupation requires both being indoors, as well as outdoors. They work mostly in offices, making calculations and compiling reports. However, it is also necessary to visit building sites.

Personal Requirements

  • interest in figures, computers and people
  • able to work quickly and very accurately
  • able to maintain good interpersonal relations
  • reliable and responsible
  • perseverance
  • aptitude for figure work
  • an organised, methodical worker
  • able to work well under pressure


  • quantity surveyors
  • building contractors
  • construction companies
  • property developers
  • government departments
  • local government
  • mining houses
  • financial and insurance institutions
  • self-employment, as a consultant in the industry

Getting Started

  • visit construction sites to observe the different activities
  • speak to a building surveyor about working with building projects


Boston City Campus and Business College does not offer a programme that leads directly to this occupation. Please take a look at the related occupations below to see whether any of these appeal to you. Alternately, please send an email to and a Student Advisor will call you back.


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