How modern quantity surveying was born

Sarah Speirs

Director, UK Communications and External Affairs (RICS)

Thomas L Inglis, MBE, FRICS, FNIQS, (retired) was lately assistant head, Department of Building and Surveying, Glasgow Caledonian University. Here he details the bicentenary of the Scottish Mode of Measurement.

Edinburgh Castle Scotland

A measured history

It's arguable that 3 April 2015, is the bicentenary of the birth of the modern quantity surveying profession.

The origins of the modern quantity surveying profession are difficult to determine.  It has developed from the 'Sworn Measurer' (on 25 April 1688 the Town Council of Edinburgh, Scotland appointed John Ogstoun "to be the good town's ordinary measurer") to the present day chartered quantity surveyor.

The next development was in Modes of Measurement and in October 1773 a paper was submitted to a meeting of the United Incorporation of the St Mary's Chapel, Edinburgh setting forth a Mode of Measurement for Mason, Wright, Slater and Painter Work.

In Glasgow similar developments were taking place and a Mode of Measurement for Mason Work was published in the Glasgow Herald of 3 April 1815 under the heading 'Rules and Regulations for Measuring Mason Work, Sanctioned by the Dean of Guild Court of Glasgow, by Decree dated March 2nd, 1815' and this year 2015 is the 200th anniversary of its publication. In 1815 James Ewing MP, LLD of Strathleven was the Dean of Guild of the Merchants House of Glasgow and in 1832-1833 Lord Provost of Glasgow.

The first Method of Measurement on a national basis was the Scottish National Building Code published in 1915, coincidently 2015 is the centenary of its publication.  It put Scotland ahead of the rest of the UK because, although a method of measurement was eventually published in London in 1922, as late as 1935 it was still not universally accepted in England and Wales.

After the end of WWII the profession which at that time was 'male only' expanded rapidly and changed from being based on evening classes with students sitting the external examinations of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to what is now degree entry.  This has made it attractive to a wider range of entrants, both male and female and in this turn has encouraged the development of new ideas.
In the 1970s and '80s, Glasgow-based quantity surveyors from academia, private practice, public service and construction companies made a major contribution to the development of quantity surveying in Botswana, Lesotho, Canada, Malawi, Malaysia, Nigeria, USA, and Zimbabwe.

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