Menu Close

Bill of Quantities Preamble Definition

The use of standards for preparing bills of quantities is essential for ensuring accuracy, reducing disputes, and improving project delivery. However, the implementation of these standards can be challenging.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the relevant standards, understand their guidelines and requirements, and use technology and digital tools that adhere to these standards. This will help ensure the successful implementation of construction projects and benefit all stakeholders involved.


A bill of quantities (BOQ) is a document prepared by a quantity surveyor or cost consultant to provide an accurate estimate of the amount of materials and labour required for construction. It is an integral part of the tender process and helps contractors to prepare their bids based on a detailed description of the works. It also includes a contingency sum to cover any unforeseeable costs that may be incurred during the project.

The preparation of BOQs according to a standardized method is important to ensure accuracy, reduce disputes, and improve project delivery. However, there are several different standards for preparing BOQs, each with its own guidelines and requirements. It is essential for construction professionals to familiarize themselves with these standards, and to use technology and digital tools that adhere to them.

Typical standards for the preparation of BOQs include the Standard Method of Measurement 7th Edition (SMM7), New Rules of Measurement (NRM), and MasterFormat. These standards are widely used in the construction industry to organize and present construction information and specifications in a consistent manner.


A bill of quantities (BOQ) is a list of work items that are specified on construction drawings and in specifications. This helps contractors to accurately price the work and compare it to other bids. It includes a description of the work, the amount of material required and the unit of measurement. The BOQ also lists any optional items.

A project team will usually prepare the list of quantities for a bidding process. It is often based on a standard work breakdown structure, such as the CSI MasterFormat. It is a good idea to do a site visit and do your own takeoffs to verify the work and quantities in the BOQ. This can help identify discrepancies and make it easier to resolve them.

When a contract is awarded, the BOQ can be used to create payment applications for the contractor. This makes it easy to track scope progress, and it allows the owner to compare contractor proposals for the same work. It can also be used to verify that the contractor is pricing labor and materials correctly.

The contractor should be able to demonstrate that the rates in the schedule of rates are consistent with the rates in the priced BOQ. Otherwise, the Engineer may amend the rates in the schedule of rates to reflect any variation.


A BOQ consists of four columns; ‘taking off’ which records the measurements taken from the drawing and its specifications; ‘times’ which represents multiplication factors like length, width & depth; dimensions, which depicts the measurement units used; and the sums column which combines all of the above elements. This helps contractors to quote rates for their work, which is essential in a construction project.

It also helps in avoiding re-work. The process of preparing a BOQ should be followed systematically as this will reduce the chances of errors. Errors could be due to inaccurate measurement of quantities, arithmetic mistakes, changing currency and units of measurement, etc.


The bill of quantities, also known as a BOQ, is an important part of any construction project. It is used to determine the scope of work, the materials required and the labour needed to complete the work. It is generally prepared by a quantity surveyor or cost consultant. The BOQ will include a detailed list of the work items with a unit rate attached to each item. This will enable tendering contractors to quote their prices based on the information provided.

The process of preparing a BOQ is usually divided into two main stages called taking off and working up. Taking off involves analysing the drawings and identifying the various elements that need to be included in the BOQ. This step is usually carried out by an experienced estimator using specialized software. The next step is working up, which involves calculating the amounts of each component using a formula such as multiplication factor x dimensions. Once the quantities have been calculated, the items are listed in a spreadsheet and priced.

The pricing of the different items of work is done by adding up the costs of the materials, equipment and labor. This price is then multiplied by a percentage to determine the overhead and profit margin. The items of work are then combined to form a summary page to show the total estimated contract sum.