In the three years since the series of earthquakes which led to the levelling of so much of Christchurch’s CBD, the profile of the Quantity Surveyor has been raised exponentially.
The words ‘Quantity Surveyor’ (QS) have been on the lips of managers, mayors and ministers who have advised and supported the use of QS’s in insurance assessments, rebuild costing and control.
So at last, QS’s are gaining recognition, but is that going to be fame or infamy?
With the constant promotion of QS services has come increased demand and with this the realisation that:
1. There were just not enough QS’s to go around.
2. That with the new popularity came major responsibilities.
The Canterbury earthquakes have caused such widespread devastation and such catastrophic damage that it has severely stretched the resources of the Earthquake Commission, the councils, the insurance companies and the construction industry. This in turn has caused seemingly endless delays which have only added to the anxiety felt by those affected.
Thousands of people are in serious confrontational situations with their insurance companies and ‘hundreds of thousands’ more are perplexed by the new insurance requirements for residential homes which has arisen out of the seismic events.
On top of this is the consequence of the earthquakes themselves, and the now recognised woeful seismic inadequacy of the vast majority of older buildings throughout New Zealand. This has called for urgent input from limited engineering resources for review and design and equally limited Quantity Surveying resources to advise on the costs involved.
The involvement in these new disciplines has had the consequence of dragging the QS’s out of their normal back room role and into the real world, meeting real people in their own homes or in some cases, what was left of their homes.
Some of these people have been in their home for 30 years or more, so the trauma arising can be extreme.
People who are on fixed incomes are struggling with quantifying costs for rebuilding and the consequentially increased costs of insurance cover. People who have lost everything when their home was destroyed and who thought that they could rebuild and replace with their payment from the insurance company, have found in a lot of cases this is not to be.
It is impossible to be left unmoved by the plight of these people who have experienced so much trauma, or who are anticipating future drama should they be affected by some catastrophic event. You feel some commitment to fight in their corner in what appears to be increasingly a David and Goliath situation. Basic humanity dictates that you take sides, professional ethics say you don’t.
So how do you cope as a member of a profession which is regarded as having less emotion than a stone, now being thrown into the middle of someone else’s personal emotional maelstrom?
The best you can do, is the best you can do. Good advice, clearly given and without fear or favour, is the hallmark of a professional QS. We must all make an effort to achieve that goal.