8 Books Every Quantity Surveyor Needs!

Entering the commercial and professional world of quantity surveying can be daunting for a lot of people, and at first, the amount of information out there on QS principles, skills, and required knowledge can feel a little overwhelming. And we have been there ourselves, so we wanted to try and lend a helping hand by recommending some of the books that have helped us and our colleagues in the past and that may help you if you are just starting out in the wonderful world of quantity surveying or simply looking to expand your knowledge – because like any profession, there is always something to learn!

A Quantity Surveyor is very often involved before, during, and after a project. Therefore, having knowledge of all stages of construction is extremely beneficial. So, to kick us off, we want to start with the following:

1. “Surveying with construction applications” by Barry Kavanagh.

This book is known for its clear and concise wording and layout, making it particularly useful for students of Quantity Surveying and explanations of how QS principles can be used in the real world, meaning it also helps with basic understanding of a building project from a practical perspective.

Other books that cover a broad spectrum of skills and techniques that would be a great addition to any Quantity Surveyor’s arsenal regardless of your level or type of construction project are:

2. “Construction Quantity Surveying” by Donald Towey.

This book aims to provide readers with a practical guide to quantity surveying from a main contractor’s perspective. Readers will acquire an understanding of the skills and competencies required by the contractor’s quantity surveyor. Following a brief introduction, the book’s early chapters cover measurement methodology and the contractor’s business, with the rest of the chapters discussing commercial and contractual management of a construction project, including day-to-day running from commencement through to completion, in a highly practical way. It covers estimating, contract administration, and construction planning, as well as commercial, cost, and project management.

3.“Quantity Surveyors Pocket Book” by Duncan Cartlidge.

This extremely handy book is an absolute must-have for students and qualified practitioners alike, covering pretty much every aspect of Quantity Surveying. The key features include:

  • An up-to-date analysis of NRM1, 2 and 3.
  • Measurement and estimating examples in NRM2 format.
  • Changes in procurement practice.
  • Changes in professional development, guidance notes and schemes of work.
  • The increased use of NEC3 form of contract.
  • The impact of BIM.

4. “Introduction to Construction Contract Management” by Brian Greenhalgh.

This book is an introduction to construction contract administration and management, covering the delivery and execution stage of a construction project and the various issues which the contract administrator needs to proactively manage. The great thing about this book is that it doesn’t just cover what needs to be done, but it also explains why! It is particularly appropriate for students and new practitioners from varied construction professions, and while it covers domestic (UK) projects, it will be particularly useful for those studying and working on international projects where terminology, procedures, and legal systems may differ from the UK.

One of the QS’s main duties and responsibilities is understanding construction contracts and certain legal aspects so we felt it important to cover some useful books on this topic. Within the UK, the 3 most used construction contracts are JCT, NEC, and FIDIC. And, understanding the contract that your particular construction project is using is essential. We have picked out a resource for each type of contract that will provide invaluable information.

5. “JCT Contract Administration Handbook” by Andy Atkinson.

This fantastic little book covers the essentials with chapters on:

  • Procurement and tendering.
  • Payments, scheduling, progress and claims.
  • Contract termination and insolvency.
  • Indemnity and insurance.
  • Supply chain problems, defects and subcontracting issues.
  • Quality, dealing with disputes and adjudication.
  • How to administer contracts for BIM-compliant projects.

6. “The Contractor’s NEC3 ECC Handbook” by Steven C. Evans.

This book is great as it is written in plain English and for everyday use and reference, even providing answers to common questions! Key features of the book are:

  • Practical guide to the procedures in the NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contracts.
  • Written specifically for those using and administering the contracts—not for lawyers or professional consultants.
  • Considers all the provisions of the contract and explains the procedures, obligations and liabilities.
  • Covers all NEC3 ECC versions and variations created by the Main and Secondary Options.

7. “The FIDIC Contracts: Obligations of the Parties” by Andy Hewitt 

This book is great for finding answers quickly due to its reference style and succinct layout making it fantastic for beginners or the experienced professional as a memory jogger.

If books are not your thing and you would rather download reference documents on your computer to help with the quantity surveying practice, then look no further than number 8 on our list of essential QS resources!

8. The Royal Institute of Quantity Surveyors (RICS) ‘Black Book’.

This is a suite of guidance notes that define good technical standards for quantity surveying and construction professionals, which is continually updated. Oh and the best part is that they are completely free!


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