Emerging trends, innovations in quantity surveying

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 00:00 | By
James Munene is Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya president .

What are your insights on modern building trends in urban centres?

The need to create environment-friendly buildings means designers are leaning more towards green building design with an aim of saving energy.

In this regard, solar energy is being incorporated in modern building structures as a replacement or as a substitute to other sources of energy.

Moreover, the use of green gardens in today’s buildings has brought about the cleaning of the air as a way of increasing the green environment around the houses.

Security in our homes and other facilities has become a vital component in design.

This has made the need for structural reinforcement of our building design to suit security needs against thuggery, terror and natural catastrophe.

There also has been increased use of reinforcement steel in walls and structural steel work.

More use of modern technologies to create “smart buildings’ with increased installation of CCTV and motion detection machines around buildings, is being witnessed— this has become a parameter of consideration when it comes to building structure and service designs.

In a nutshell, with the current building trends, energy and other resource conservation, security, safety and health issues have become key.

Pre-engineered concrete panels and light-gauge roof structural systems are being used more often due to high building demand for commercial buildings/industrial buildings, zoning of areas has changed and we have witnessed more mixed-used development models being adopted.

The manufacturing sector is one that is continuously producing tools of trade in the building sector, how is IQSK aligned in the processes?

IQSK membership is made up of professionals who are in constant interaction with clients and building projects, who act as consultants in cost advice and writing specification of the construction materials to be used in a project.

In writing specifications consideration is given to what is currently available in production/in the market in relation to current market trends and preferences by clients.

This means that the institute and its members must remain constantly in touch with the manufacturers.

IQSK also publishes cost information in the Quantity Surveyors Quarterly Journal and the yearly Cost Indices Handbook, which information is sourced from manufacturers.

Through Continuous Professional Development (CPDs) programmes, we offer training to our members on latest trends on use of materials and also invite manufacturers to make presentations and show-case their products during such events.

IQSK has also been in the forefront in advocating for protection of local content — both in terms of utilisation of local skills and materials in projects being undertaken in the country.

With the construction sector taking a hit due to effects of Covid-19 and manufacturing slow presently, how badly has the IQSK been impacted in their part?

In April last year, shortly after the first confirmed Covid-19 case in Kenya, IQSK conducted a survey on its membership, which revealed that all members had been adversely affected by the pandemic.

Most site meetings at the time, had to be cancelled; some firms ceased all in-person operations; others had to vary their contracts with their employees, in most cases to the disadvantage of the latter.

Some had to lay off staff leading to loss of livelihoods. However, it is worth noting that not all effects were negative.

Most firms, prompted by the pandemic, adopted remote working practices. Gradually, they have discovered that it is indeed possible to stay in business with significantly less overheads; they don’t have to foot the costs of maintaining the office space.

Additionally, the wide-spread adoption of working from home and virtual meetings has meant that costs associated with convening physical meetings and occupying large office spaces have been reduced.

With Kenya being home to several high-profile quantity survey firms jostling for a pie in mega construction projects in the country, does your profession also source for work outside the borders?

Yes. Some Kenyan quantity surveying firms are also undertaking work in other countries; mostly within the Eastern Africa region.

Some are handling construction projects in South Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia, Uganda and even Tanzania. With the recent bilateral agreement between Kenya and Burundi, it is our hope that Kenyan firms may also venture into that country as well.

Kenya has a huge pool of professionals and skilled labour. Hence, we have seen an emerging trend of international consultants associating with Kenyan firms or hiring local skills as part of their teams to deliver projects that they have taken up within the region.

In the Kenyan market, mega construction sites are entrusted to foreign contractors and this has hit hard on our profession as the contractors come in with their own quantity surveyors hindering our local firms from taking part in these mega projects. 

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