The Dangers of Concept Pricing for Quantity Surveyors: Why It’s Important to Make the Difference Clear to Your Clients

As a quantity surveyor (QS), one of the most important tasks is to provide clients with accurate cost estimates for their building projects. 

The most asked question in construction has to be.

“How much is this project going to cost

However, many clients are under the impression that the initial “ballpark” figure provided during the concept stage is the final cost of the project. This is where the dangers of concept pricing comes into play.

Concept pricing is a rough estimate of the cost of a building project based on limited information, such as the size and type of building, the location, and the client’s budget. It is designed to give the client a general idea of the cost of their project, but it is not a definitive price. 

The problem is that clients often assume that this rough estimate is the final cost of the project, which can lead to disappointment and frustration when the actual costs are revealed 6 months down the track.

I had first-hand experience of the dangers of concept pricing on a luxury new build in Gibbston Valley, Queenstown. We initially priced the project as a concept new build at the very early design stage at 2 million dollars. We were going to try and keep the majority of the house, extend and renovate. 

However, once the engineer got involved, we found out that we now have to demo the whole house, redo the slab, and start from scratch, adding on a further $600-$800k (due to the fact that this was a 650m2 house). When we first looked at the project we were ambitious around keeping the majority of the bones of the house, expanding, keeping the original slab and upgrading off that.

Once we got the engineer involved it was not going to be cost effective beefing up all the existing 100mm frames to 140mm frames and pouring an additional 50mm slab over top of the existing. I have been in the procurement stage of this project for a good 7-9 months and we started at 2.1 million now we are up to 3.2 million.

To avoid these dangers, it is essential for quantity surveyors to make the difference between concept pricing and actual costs clear to their clients. Quantity surveyors should educate their clients on the limitations of concept pricing and make it clear that it is just a rough estimate. They should also provide regular updates on the actual cost of the project as more information becomes available and encourage their clients to be involved in the process to ensure that they are informed and aware of any changes.

It is important to remember that concept pricing is an important step in the building process and provides all parties with a basic understanding of costs. Without a basic understanding of costs, projects may never go ahead in the first place. However, it is crucial to highlight in bold and underline that concept pricing is an estimate only and should not be taken as a definitive price for the project.

In conclusion, the dangers of concept pricing can be significant for both quantity surveyors and clients. Quantity surveyors must take care to educate their clients on the limitations of concept pricing and make it clear that it is just a rough estimate. By doing so, they can help their clients make informed decisions about their building projects and avoid disappointment and frustration down the track.

Having a quantity surveyor involved throughout the design and procurement stages of a building project is crucial to ensure accurate cost estimates and avoid any surprises in the final cost.

A quantity surveyor can identify potential cost implications of changes made during the design process and advise the client on the best course of action to minimise costs. 

The quantity surveyor’s expertise in construction materials, labour, and regulations can also help ensure that the project stays within budget. By keeping the quantity surveyor involved from the beginning to the end, clients can be confident that their building project will be completed within budget and to their satisfaction.

If you’re looking to do a build project, definitely factor in a budget for QS fees, aim to pay about 3-4% of the total build cost to a QS in order to maintain budgets and keep spending under control.

If you need help on an up coming project be sure to shoot us a message at

Happy Reading!

David Baker

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