RICS Study Checklist for Quantity Surveying APC

In this entry, I will cover the topics that all Quantity Surveyors should know and be experienced in. This guide will help you get started to formulate your study routine, checklist and questions for your RICS APC.

At the end of the APC journey, a Quantity Surveyor must be able to have the knowledge and experience of the following elements for their day-to-day work in any environment:

  • Estimating
  • Cost planning
  • Procurement
  • Tendering
  • Contract selection
  • Contract procedure
  • Post contract cost control or commercial management of contracts
  • Quantification of works
  • Construction Technology


These elements (or topics) are essential for any Quantity Surveyor and it can be re-categorised to make it easier and more efficient to absorb and learn. For example, procurement is heavily interlinked with tendering, as you need to know a procurement route and a tendering route to implement it together to engage a contractor for the project. Therefore, it is logical to learn them together.

The sequence that I have listed the topics below will make it easier for you to learn and comprehend. For example, it would be more efficient for you to learn construction technology before you head down and start measuring the building elements. Without the construction technology, you may miss out elements when taking off or even produce work schedules.

topics photo
Photo by Games for Change

The Topics you will need to learn

I’ve grouped the topics together in 3 separate modules so that it will help you study them and avoid repeating. I strongly believe you need to start at the beginning of the project and slowly work your way through managing the project to preparing the final account and project close out.



Module 1 – Procurement and Tendering

Under this module, you will need to cover the following topics.

  • Procurement
  • Tendering
  • Contract selection
  • Contract Procedure

Module 2 – Estimating & Quantification

Under this module, you will cover.

  • Construction Technology
  • Quantification of work
  • Cost planning & estimating


Module 3 – Commercial Management

The final module will cover the following list, which are mostly post contract activities you’ll be undertaking

  • Post contract cost control or commercial management of contracts
  • Cost planning



In procurement & tendering you will cover most pre-contract element of study such as procurement, tendering, contract selection.

Then you logically move on to quantifying the works to prepare the BOQ and cost estimates. Of course, you might argue that you’d want to prepare the cost estimates first, but the contract requirements will dictate how the project would be priced. Only after these requirements have been identified and a procurement & tendering route has been selected can you then only move onto doing the quantification and pricing of the works. And you cannot manage the works if the project has not been procured…

So there is sense in laying it out the way I did, just to keep flow.


detail photo

What to study under each module (in detail)

What I have now done is broken down these modules into smaller sub-topics so that you can start small chunking the topics into manageable topics to study. The following lists will go into detail on what to learn for each modules discussed previously. I will be using the templates from the RICS and add my own sub-topics so that you can have a comprehensive list.

Module 1 -Procurement and Tendering

Here you should start off by getting into procurement & tendering routes and ending up with different forms of contract and which one to use.

In this heading, you should be covering the following:


  • Procurement
    • RIBA work stages
    • Procurement Routes
      • Traditional
      • Design and Build
      • Management contracting
      • Construction Manager
    • Factors in choosing a procurement route
      • Time
      • Budget, Cost & financing
      • Quality
      • Risk
Level 1

At level 1, you should have an understanding all the different types of procurement route used in the construction industry and the roles of each profession under the project.


Level 2

At level 2, you should have the experience in choosing/selecting a procurement route for a project while considering the factors and restriction of the project. At this stage you must also be able to differentiate and compare the procurement routes. This means knowing the difference between construction management vs. management contracting.

Even if you don’t have experience in all procurement routes, you need to be able to have a very good understanding of how each procurement route works.

Level 3

At level 3 for procurement you should be able to give sound advise to the client or project team on selecting the appropriate procurement route for the works. Even if you have not been able to advise your project team or client, you should still have an in-depth knowledge of procurement route.

Next we’ll cover tendering, which goes hand in hand with the procurement route. Tendering is how you’ll go about to tender for the works with a contractor/ project team to give you the price to select.


  • Tendering
    • Tendering procedure
      • Rules of tendering – codes of practice or procedures
      • Tender list
      • Pre-qualification questionnaire
      • Issuing tender documents (e-tendering)
      • Management of the tendering process during the tender period
      • Tender opening procedure
      • Evaluation of tenders
      • Dealing with Errors and Qualifications
      • Compiling tender reports
      • Regulations governing the client
      • Public Sector regulations
      • EU regulations
    • Source of Finance & Government procurement
      • Private finance initiative (PFI)
      • Public Private Partnership (PPP)
      • Prime contracting
    • Routes
      • Open tender
      • Single Stage
        • Traditional
        • Design & Build
      • Two-stage
        • Traditional
        • Design & build
      • Negotiation
      • Serial
      • Framework
    • Factors in choosing a tendering route
      • Time
      • Budget, Cost & financing
      • Quality
      • Risk
Level 1

At Level 1 you should be able to understand all the factors in selecting and choosing a method of tendering.

Level 2

At level 2, you should have the experience of the whole tendering process from beginning to end. You would be able to compile the tender list, send out ITT, form of tender, PQQ, managing the tender process and reviewing the tender returns to prepare a tender report.

Even if you have experience in one method of tender, you should be able to differentiate against the other tendering route stating their advantages and disadvantages. For example comparing between single stage and two-stage tender.

Level 3

At this stage, you should be able to provide professional advice to the client and project team on selecting the contractor for tender to recommend the client on which contractor to appoint.

You should be able to demonstrate a detail and in-depth understanding of tendering procedures, rules and factors in selecting a contractor.

This is a quantity surveyors bread and butter, a quantity surveyor should know this in detail and you will be quizzed on this.


Contract Selection


  • Contract selection
    • Standard form contract
      • NEC
      • JCT
      • ICC/ICE
      • FIDIC
      • ACA
      • GC/Works/1
    • Pricing Option
      • Lump Sum
      • Re-measurable
      • Reimbursable
      • Target cost
      • Guaranteed or Agreed Maximum price
Level 1

At level 1, you should have a full understanding all the industries common form of contract. Of course, this differs between regions, and you should be aware of your region’s common form of contract. I am only covering the UK on this site.

Level 2

At level 2, you should the experience in selecting a procurement route and the appropriate form of contract suitable for the project. At this stage you should also be able to differentiate the different forms of contract.

Level 3

At level 3 you should be able to advise the client or project team on selecting the appropriate form of contract and pricing options.

Even though you might not have the opportunity to work on all the forms of contract, you should be able to have an in-depth knowledge of each form of contract.

process photo
Photo by blprnt_van

Contract Procedure

  • Contract Procedure
    • Basic contract law
      • Formation of contract
      • Current contract legislation & other related legislations and regulations
      • Current case law
      • Common standard form of contract and sub-contract
      • Contract documentation (the different sections and documents forming part of a contract)
      • Letters of intent
        • Components of a letter of intent
      • Contract Mechanisms
        • Roles of the parties under the contract
          • Client
          • Contract administrator / employer’s agent
          • Project manager
          • Engineer
          • Contractor
          • Subcontractor
          • Quantity surveyor
        • Conflict avoidance/dispute resolution
          • Conflict avoidance in partnering
          • Negotiation
          • Mediation
          • Conciliation
          • Adjudication
          • Arbitration
          • Pre-action protocol
          • Litigation
          • Expert witness
          • Independent expert determination
        • Contractor designed works (or contractor’s design portion under JCT) / Performance specified works
        • Sub-Contracting (back to back contracts and liabilities)
        • Named/ nominated subcontractors
        • Payment provisions (under housing grants or any Security of Payment
          • Advance payment
          • Interim valuation
          • Materials on/off site
            • Vesting certificate
              • Sales of goods act – Transfer of ownership
              • Insurance
            • Interest charges – Late payment and commercial debt act
          • Legislation under your jurisdiction that you operate under)
          • Change/ variation procedures for different types of contract
          • Fluctuation
          • Assignment & novation
          • Bonds / Parent Company Guarantees
          • Insurances
            • Employer’s Liability
            • Professional Indemnity Insurance
            • Third-party liability
            • Insurance of the works
          • Third party rights – legislation vs. collateral warranties
          • Retention – including retention bonds
          • Liquidated (and ascertained) damages
            • Limitation of Liability
          • Claims
            • Extension of time
            • Acceleration
            • Loss & expenses
          • Early possession and sectional completion
          • Termination of contract (determination) & insolvency
            • Insolvency
              • Type of insolvency
              • Bankruptcy
              • Individual voluntary arrangement
              • Liquidation
              • Administrative receivership / fixed charge receivership
              • Company voluntary arrangement
              • Role of the Quantity Surveyor if insolvency occurs
              • Termination and suspension of contracts
              • Assignment vs. novation
                • Assignment of debt
              • Ownership of material and plant
              • Bonds and Guarantees
              • Set-off
            • Contract completion
            • Final accounts
            • Defects / rectification period
Level 1

At level 1, you should have a very good knowledge of all main contractual mechanisms. You should have an in-depth knowledge of how they work and when it is used.


Level 2

At level 2, you should have experienced as many of the contractual mechanisms as possible. Where you don’t have experience in certain mechanisms such as LAD, insolvency or defects, you should have a lot of in-depth knowledge and theoretical practice of these procedures.

Where you have used a bespoke contract, you need to be able to know it in depth and be able to explain the differences against one of the standard forms of contract. Most bespoke contracts are based on 1 or more of the standard forms of contract. For example when you tendered for a job in Saudi Arabia they used a mixture of GC/works/1, JCT and FIDIC Yellow book for the tender.

It is also important for a Quantity Surveyor to fully understand the basic contract law and what components create a contract. E.g. offer, acceptance and consideration.

You should also have an in-depth knowledge of LAD and liability for damages. For example if there are no LAD the damages are unlimited (unless capped).


Level 3

At level 3, you should be able to advise the client or the project team on the contractual mechanisms in detail. You should be able to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and difference between the mechanisms. For example the difference between retention and retention bonds, or Rights of Third vs. collateral warranties.

measurement photo

Estimating & Quantification

After procurement and tendering we will now cover the estimating and quantification of the works. This is where you’ll be able to take off drawings or use brief requirements to come up with a budget price/estimate for the client. After that, with more information you will be able to price the whole project in much more detail (cost plans). But to be able to price a job you need a good knowledge in construction technology.


Construction technology

  • Construction Technology
    • Demolition and site preparation
    • Foundation systems and substructures
      • The different types of foundation system
        • Basements
        • Piling
        • Pad
        • Strip
        • Raft
      • Superstructures
        • Concrete vs. steel frames
      • Floor structures
        • Timber
        • Concrete floor
      • Building types
      • Building envelopes, such as external walls and roofs
        • The different types of walls and roofs
        • External walls – cladding vs. glazing
        • Flat vs. pitch roof
          • Coverings
        • Landscaping
          • Hard vs. soft
        • Internal structures
          • Partitions vs. doors
        • Finishes, fixtures and fittings
        • Services installations
          • Underground drainage
          • Internal M&E
            • Electrical
            • Mechanical
          • Internal/ external drainage
          • Mains services
          • Air-conditioning/ ventilation systems
          • Fire safety systems
          • Security systems
          • Environmental systems and controls
          • Data systems
        • External works and landscaping
        • Engineering structures
          • Bridges
          • Tunnels
          • Roads
          • Railway
          • Waterways
          • Sea defenses’
          • Sewage treatment plants
          • Processing plants
        • Major earthworks
      • Method of construction & regulations
        • Building regulations or codes and other related legislation
        • Healthy & safety
        • Planning legislation and procedures
        • Party wall issues / right of light
        • Dangerous / banned substances – asbestos, etc.
        • Pre-fabrication
        • Disability legislation
        • Sustainability requirements
          • BREEAM
Level 1

At level 1, you are expected to have a good understanding of all the common elements that makes up a building or structure. From substructure to a roof. If you have worked on a bridge project, you are expected to know the full construction element of the structure.

Level 2

At level 2, you should have experience in the different types of construction components in relation to estimating, pricing, compilation of tender, contract documents, interim valuations, valuing change and compiling final accounts.

Where you have not gained enough experience to get all the different types of work, then you should have an understanding of how the component works in respect of their sector.

You are also required to be aware of other types of solutions to a building element. For example, if you only had experience in piling in one of your project you are expected to have knowledge of other types of substructure such as a pad, strip, etc.…

Even if you are working in civil, you are still expected to know the basic principles of how a steel frame building.

Level 3

At level 3, you should have advised the client or project team on elements of the design where a selection of particular methods of construction and or material that can have an impact on the cost.

If you have not had the opportunity to advise on the material or method of construction, then you are expected to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the components listed above.


Quantification of work

  • Quantification of work
    • Preparing estimates and cost plans
    • Preparing tender and contract documentation
      • Bill of Quantities
      • Schedules of works
      • Schedule of rates
      • Provisional sums / prime cost sums
      • Elemental sum analysis
    • Analysis of price
      • Tender returns
    • Day works
      • CECA day works
    • Valuing works for interim payment, change and final account (this links to post contract works)
      • Valuing measured works
      • Valuing change
      • Valuing loss and expense
    • Measurement
      • Methods of measurement
        • New rules of measurement or CESMM
        • RICS code of measuring practice
      • Purpose
      • Measurement rules
      • Standardized approach
      • Different ways of measuring floor areas
        • GIFA
        • NIFA
      • Build-up of Unit rates/ prices from first principles
      • Build-up of costs in respect of preliminaries and just not using a % to calculate prelim.
      • Quantification of overheads and profit
      • Quantification of risk and calculation of a risk allowance
      • Forecasting tender and construction inflation
    • Categories of measurement
      • Floor Area
      • Functional unit
      • Elemental
      • Composite Quantities
      • Detail quantities
Level 1

At level 1 you are expected to have understood why there is a standard method of measurement and rules of measurement set out in the construction industry. You should also know the different methods of measuring works.

Level 2

At Level 2, you should have experience in measuring construction work for the purpose of preparing cost estimates, cost plans, tender / contract pricing and valuing change.

For example if you have not produced a BOQ, you are expected to have produced a pricing document even if it a schedule of works or an elemental analysis.


Level 3

At Level 3, you should be able to demonstrate and explain to your client or project team the different approaches to measurement and when they should be used.


Cost planning & estimating


Under this topic I have merged both cost estimating and cost planning, as they are very similar but undertaken at different work stages.

  • Cost planning & estimating
    • Purpose of cost estimates
    • Different types of cost estimates
      • Feasibility
      • Budget
      • Pre-tender estimates
    • Basis of estimates
      • Functional unit rate (beds, students)
      • Elemental
      • Detailed quantities
    • Components of an estimate
    • Source, use and adjustment of data
      • Spon’s
      • BCIS
      • In-house database
    • Benchmarking techniques
    • Reporting cost estimates
      • Structure and format
    • Difference between cost estimates, cost plan and cost analysis
    • Life cycle costing – capital / running costs / replacement
    • Other Factors
      • Calculating unit rates from first principles
        • Labour
        • Plant
        • Material
      • Base dates
      • Construction and tender inflation
      • Location factors
      • Site/location specific conditions (e.g. ground conditions & site constraints) (For example; working in rural areas vs. urban)
      • Sustainability requirements
      • Professional and statutory fees (land acquisition, etc.…)
      • Preliminaries and overheads and profit
      • Risk allowances
      • Inclusions and exclusions
    • State of construction market
    • State of the economy generally – locally and globally
    • Interest rates – Bank of England


Cost Estimate

Level 1

At level 1, you should have a good understanding of what a cost estimate is and what it includes.

Level 2

At level 2, you should have experience in measuring the building elements, compile unit rates, and compile final cost estimate reports. You should be able to explain what and how you put together a feasibility estimate, budget estimate and pre-tender estimate.

Level 3

At level 3, you should be able to present an estimate to a client or project team and explain the different aspects of the estimate to them. You should also demonstrate that you have been interrogated on the estimate by the team.

For example, you need to explain how you had to provide proof to your project team on how you built up the rates and the sources you have used for the inflation indices. However, if you have not been able to experience this, you should be able to demonstrate a detailed understanding of the requirements of an estimate.

Cost planning

Level 1

At level 1, you should have a good understanding of the main components that is included in a cost plan.

Level 2

At level 2, you should ideally have had experience in producing a cost plan. This includes;

  • Setting up a budget
  • Developing a cost plan
  • Benchmarking a design
  • Monitoring design development against a cost plan
  • Managing risk
  • Value engineering elements
  • Evaluating life cycle costs
  • Presenting the cost plan to the client or project team.

If you have had no experience in preparing a cost plan you should have a practical understanding of how the components work and are included in a cost plan.

Level 3

At level 3, you should have experience in presenting a cost plan to the client or to your project team. You should be able to demonstrate that you have been interrogated on the cost plan and how you have dealt with it. You should demonstrate how you dealt with the queries against the cost plan.

control photo

Post Contract Cost Control & Commercial Management

The post contract cost control & commercial management section will cover topics mostly for managing the contract after the contract award. I’ve included the cost planning as it is an on going exercise on design and build projects where the scope is not fully defined at the start of the project.


Post contract cost control

  • Post contract cost control or commercial management of contracts
    • Post contract control
      • Forecasting & cash flows
      • Valuing change
      • Expenditure of provisional and prime cost sums
      • Expenditure of contingencies
      • Carrying out interim valuations
      • Managing risks
      • Value Engineering
      • Dealing with claims
      • Authentication of actual costs
      • Reporting regimes and protocols
      • Final account
Level 1

At level 1, you should have a good understanding of the common cost control procedures in the industry. (See list above)

Level 2

At level 2, you should have the experience in undertaking the components listed above in the contracts you have managed. Where you are missing experience on some of the components you should have an in-depth theoretical knowledge of the practical procedures involved.


You should also have a detail experience of the change control procedure under different contracts available and all the potential problems with managing change. You will also be expected to know the steps to prevent such problems from arising.


Other than the change you are required to know how to produce and manage:

  • Cash flow forecast for a project
  • Risk management
  • Report changes to risk registers


Level 3

At level 3, you should have experience in giving advice to a client or project team on implementing some of the components listed above. If you had no opportunity to do so, you need an in-depth knowledge of all the components listed to give reasoned and practical advice.


Commercial management of contracts

  • Commercial management of contract
    • Handover of estimate and setting up of the construction budget
    • Cash flow forecasting
    • Key performance indicators
    • Financial management of supply chain
    • Procurement
      • Procurement of labour
        • Working rules agreement
        • Industrial Relation policies
        • Agency worker
      • Procurement of plant and materials
        • CPA agreements
      • Procurement of sub-contracts
    • Interim payments
      • Valuation of change
      • Ascertainment of loss and expense
      • Agreement of final accounts
    • Financial management of multiple projects
    • Cost evaluation of alternative design and construction processes (value engineering)
    • Reconciliation of value and cost
    • Cost to completion forecasting and reporting
      • Reporting financial progress against budget
    • Managing contingency and risk
    • Alternative profit recognition conventions
    • Preparation of information for internal/external audits
    • Internal and external cost reporting
    • Forecasted final account projections
Level 1

At level 1, you are expected to have a good knowledge of all the main components listed above.


Level 2

At level 2, you should have experience in dealing with these components in contracts that you have been involved in. Where you have had no experience, you need to have a detail theoretical knowledge of the procedures of each component.

You should have experience in preparing:

  • Cost value reconciliation (CVR report)
  • How the remainder of the project is dealt with
  • Financial management of the supply chain


Level 3

At level 3, you should have given advise on suitable commercial management procedures and be able to differentiate techniques. Where you do not have experience in advising then you will be required to have an in-depth understanding of all the components listed above.


Cost planning

  • Cost planning
    • As detailed previously


walk in a park photo
Photo by williamcho


As you can see from the list above there is a lot for you to cover. It might seem daunting but you should not worry as you have some time to prepare. To aid you I will be publishing articles every week to try to cover all the components for each competency for the APC.


What I have also noticed is that you will need to learn to differentiate and compare different components under each topic. For example differences between traditional and design & build procurement. As long as you keep to the 4 categories of assessment (Quality, Time, Cost and Risk) that the RICS uses often in their guides I think you’ll be ok when differentiating.


I hav also noticed that under some of the elements (or modules) there are fallback requirements if you have not achieved the required experience. The default is to know the theory of the practical implementation of the components. However, there are some where they want you to know the difference between collateral warranties vs. rights of third parties (see contract procedures).


Nevertheless, you should not confuse the modules discussed above with the competencies. You will notice some of these modules cover 1-3 competencies in one go. So when you’re studying you’ll have to just keep in mind which competencies you’re working on.


As discussed previously I am planning on doing videos to help you understand the topics as well as giving me practice to present the topics.

There are quite a lot of other competencies that I have not covered in this article as the majority of the readers on this website are only focusing on the commercial management aspect of Quantity Surveying. However, if you are covering another technical competency from the ones I’ve listed above you can read through the Quantity Surveyor pathway guide to identify the list that you need to cover. (If you need help send me an email at bramburn@notyouraverageqs.com with the competency you want to cover and I’ll try to update this entry to include it.)


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