20 QS Terms You Should Know

1st September, 2023

Quantity Surveying, like most industries is a place where many acronyms are used. When it comes to application of these within the industry or even coming across them in university, it is important to understand the core acronyms used within the industry.

  1. BCIS – Building Cost Information Service (Part of RICS)

Labelled as the leading provider of cost and price information to the construction industry and anyone else who needs comprehensive, accurate and independent data.2

2. Final Account

This is simply the conclusion of the contract sum including all necessary adjustments and signifies the agreed amount that the employer will pay the contractor.

3. Retention

Normally, a percentage of around 5% of the contract sum is withheld on each payment made under a construction contract. This is withheld to try and ensure that the works completed following the guidance of the construction contract, are completed to the required standard.

4. Take Off

This term simply refers to the process of identifying the different elements of construction works required to be measured and priced.

5. Float

The total extra time, beyond what is required by the contractor to complete the work, which is typically included at the end of the construction programme/project.

6. Forecast

Anticipated future spends on a project based on evidence, calculations and/or assumptions.

7. Accrual

Value of work that has been completed but not yet been charged for.

8. ECI – Early Contractor Involvement

This is the involvement of the primary contractor during early stages of design for their professional input.


These are different types of construction contract providers. See our playlists for more details.


These are the main different types of chartership institutions within the industry, with RICS being the most prestigious on all accounts.

11. BoQ – Bill of Quantities

This is a document used in the tender process within the construction industry, in which materials, parts, and labour are itemised and calculated.

12. Specification

A well-structured, detailed description of the quality, standards, workmanship, materials, and completion of work to be done which evolves during the lifespan of a project.

13. Cost Code

This is used to separate costings into specific categories.

14. Tender

A submission made by a prospective supplier in response to an invitation to tender. It makes an offer for the supply of goods or services for a project. This also goes from an Architect offering the work to contactors who have tender documents drawn up by a QS and submit a proposal.

15. Scope/Works Information

This is a general description of the work that is expected to be performed under a particular contract whether this is JCT, NEC etc.

16. Detailed Design

This is the phase where the design is refined and mapped out. Specifications and estimates are created to support the design confirmations.

17. Liability

In the broadest sense, the word ‘liability’ refers to a responsibility placed on someone, or something that places them at a disadvantage. For example, responsibility for the design or responsibility to complete the work to all specifications.

18. Vesting Certificate

An agreement for construction goods, plant, or materials, in letter form, used to confirm that ownership of the goods, plant or materials will transfer from one party to another upon payment receipt.

19. CVR – Cost Value Reconciliation

This provides you with an ongoing account of a contract’s profitability, by measuring cost against value at different points in a contract’s lifecycle, right through to completion of the project.

20. VOWD – Value of work to date

This is a project management technique used for measuring and estimating the project cost at any given point in time.

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