The challenges of measuring and accounting for construction

Rick Best, Jim Meikle

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Measuring construction used to be a straightforward exercise. Work was physically measured on completion and those who did the work were paid based on
the quantities of work measured. People who carried out the measurement or
‘surveying’ work became known as quantity surveyors.
Gradually the practice of measuring and estimating the cost of construction
before the start of the work, usually from some sort of drawing(s), replaced the
measurement of work after it was completed. A handwritten estimate for the
building of a cottage in Wales prepared in 1809 (see Lethbridge 2008) included
the following items:
• For digging stones for building 294 yds @ 8d = £ 9.16.0
• For building the house 294 yds @ 14d = £ 17.3.0
• 220 feet of timber @ 4/6 per foot = £49.10.0
• All sorts of nails = £ 3. 0.0
• Hinges, latchets and smyth’s work = £ 0.15.0
The entire estimate comprised just 14 items. In Commonwealth countries at
least, such measurement and estimation developed into the detailed measurement and pricing of building works, with measurement based on precise rules
compiled and published by professional bodies such as the Royal Institution of
Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAccounting for Construction: Frameworks, Productivity, Cost and Performance
EditorsRick Best, Jim Meikle
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-23178-5
ISBN (Print)9781138293977
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2019


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