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Bill of Quantities: Definition, Preparation, Format & Example

Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 15 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management

This lesson explains how bringing an architect's plan to life requires many tools, not just labor and planning but assessment. A measure of the work necessary to carry out the design is important. In Great Britain and Australia, a bill of quantities is used to produce these specifications.

A Bill of Quantities

When you are working on a construction project from design to completion, it is important to have an accurate assessment of the following:

  1. What work is being completed?
  2. How much is being done?
  3. What is the rate for the work
  4. What is the total value of the work?

A bill of quantities (BOQ) is a document, used mainly in Great Britain and Australia, which answers the above questions.

Why is such a document necessary? Who, apart from a project manager, would want such information? The main benefit is accurate bidding for the project. Other variations, bidding time, and cost management are additional benefits.

Accurate Bidding

Think of a bill of quantities as a flavor of a project plan. By laying out important project information, you are able to reduce guesswork about the project. The document helps potential bidders provide accurate bids.

Dealing with Variations

There will be variations and deviations from any plan. An unforeseen layer of stubborn bedrock, or a miscalculation on the length of pipe. While a BOQ may not find the bedrock, an analysis of the document may reveal that you've underestimated the quantity of storm drain needed.

Reduce Bidding Time

A well-crafted BOQ can reduce the bidding time, the period of time allocated for contractors to get their estimates to you. As we will show in our example, accurate estimates leave little room for interpretation or guesses.

Cost Management

You've probably heard the adage: Whatever you estimate for a project's cost, double it. And you still might go over budget! A BOQ isn't going to magically keep your project within its budget, but a well-built BOQ can help with cost management.

Additionally, by shortening the bidding time (and improving the quality of bids), there is a reduced cost also. Fewer resources are devoted to sorting through inadequate bids or wading through overly-complex ones.

When the project is all done, the BOQ can be used to compare against actual costs. While you still may go over budget, you at least have data to compare to. This can be useful for future projects.

Sample BOQ

Below is a sample bill of quantities showing item descriptions, units of measure, item cost, and total cost. The total cost would then be displayed on a final summary sheet.

Sample BOQ

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