Bill of Quantities is a document that fully describes and accurately represent the quantity and quality of the works to be carried out, including the obligations required of the contractor and provides a uniform basis f or the preparation of competitive tenders.

Preparation of the bill of quantities is one of the major functions of the Quantity Surveyor.

The following are the main functions of the Bill of Quantities:

  1. It enables all the contractors tendering for a contract to price on exactly the same information with a minimum of effort.
  2. It provides basis for the valuation of variations which often occur during the progress of the works on site.
  3. It gives an itemized list of the component parts of the building with full description and the quantity of each part which assist the contractor in the ordering of materials and assessing his labour requirements for the contract.
  4. It provides a good basis for cost analysis after being priced.
  5. Bill of Quantities are used as a basis for financial management.


This is the type of bills presented in trade section and subsections in the sequence listed in the standard method of measurement of Building works.
Although these bills fulfill their function in obtaining competitive tenders, a full potential of the information prepared by the Quantity Surveyor is not realised during the management of the contract. This has led to other forms of presentation.

This type of bill is divided into sections, each of which is an important element in building, for example : internal walls, roof, staircases. The work within each section is usually billed in trade order. The elemental bill is of a considerable assistance in cost planning and of value on site since the location of most items will be apparent from their position in the bill.

This form of bill is capable of presentation either as a trade order bill or as an elemental bill. For tendering purposes, presentation is in trade order each section commencing with preamble clauses. Within each section, items are grouped in elements billed in trade order sequence. The separate elements always commences at the top of a sheet so that a loose leaf form is obtained allowing the bills to be rearranged as elemental bills for use in contract management.

This type of bill divides the work into site operations as distinct from trade or elements. Materials are shown separately and labour is described in terms of the operations necessary for the construction of the building. And operation is regarded as the work done by a man or gang of men at some definite stage in the building process. The principle governing operational bills is that the description of the building work required shall follow the building process itself.

Activity Bill is measured in accordance with the SMM and the work is billed in sections which relate to activities established by network analysis. Onsite and Offside activities are kept separate and manufactured goods, specialist suppliers and nominated specialists are hooked in self contained sections.

In this type of bill, side notes are incorporated in the bill to indicate the location of the measured items within the building. This assist the estimator at the tender stage and to all concerned with the physical construction of the project.

Abasiekeme George

Architect by profession, Political Analyst, Blogger and Publisher @ mybuildingconstruction.com, Writer, Critic, and a Good Governance Advocate.

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