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What is a Bill of Quantities?

A bill of quantities (BOQ) is a list of work items for a construction project. Each work item has a description and quantity, as well as a unit of measure.

These are then priced by contractors using the project’s drawings and specifications. Often, a percentage for overheads and profit is added to the item rates.


A bill of quantities is a document that lists all the materials, labor, and equipment required for a construction project. It is typically prepared by a quantity surveyor using the design and specifications of the construction project. It is used as a tool to help estimate the cost of the project and to facilitate the tendering process. It also helps to ensure that all requirements are met and that the project is completed on time and within budget.

A good bill of quantities should be clear and accurate. This will help in avoiding confusion and ambiguity, which can lead to disputes over pricing. Moreover, it should be prepared according to a standard methodology. For example, a BoQ for general construction works in the UK was generally prepared according to the Standard Method of Measurement 7th Edition until 1st July 2013, when it was replaced with New Rules of Measurement.

To prepare a bill of quantities, you need to review the plans and specifications and make a list of all work items with their descriptions, quantities, and unit prices. You can use a spreadsheet program to create a BoQ, or you can purchase a software program designed for the construction industry. The software programs usually include features for cost estimating, scheduling, and project management tools.

While Bill of Quantities (BOQ) and Bill of Material (BOM) sound similar, they have different purposes and play different roles in the construction and manufacturing industries. Understanding the differences between these two documents can help professionals optimize their planning, procurement, and execution processes.


The purpose of a bill of quantities is to provide a clear breakdown of the work that is required for a construction project, including material and labour. It also provides an estimated cost for the work. It is prepared using the drawings, designs and specifications provided by the design team. It is usually produced to a recognised industry standard method of measurement dependent upon the sector of the project (e.g. SMM7 or NRM2 for general construction, CESMM4 for civil engineering, MMHW for highways and RMM2 for rail). A bill of quantities is often created by professional Quantity Surveyors. A bill of quantities is generally prepared in work sections that reflect likely sub-contract packages, making it easier for suppliers to quote rates.

It promotes fair competition and transparency in the tendering process, as it ensures that all bidders have a comprehensive understanding of the scope of work. It also allows for accurate estimates of construction costs, and it helps to avoid misunderstandings during the pricing process.

A well-prepared bill of quantities is a vital document in construction projects, as it enables contractors to accurately calculate their bids. It can be used as the basis for estimating and procurement, and it also assists with monitoring and control of the project’s progress and costs. In addition, a well-prepared bill of quantities can help reduce waste and streamline production processes.


Whether it’s used for planning or preparing tenders, a bill of quantities (BoQ) is an essential tool in the construction industry. It can help reduce project costs and improve efficiency. It also enables contractors to compete fairly with each other. It provides the necessary information needed to ensure accurate bidding and pricing.

It is usually prepared by a Quantity Surveyor (QS) or cost consultant during the design stage. The QS will analyze the project drawings and estimate the required materials, equipment, and labor. They will then prepare a list of items and their rates. These rates are based on the prices of materials, labor, overheads, and profit. The item rates are then multiplied by the quantity of each component to calculate the total price for the whole work.

There are different types of BoQs, including:

An Elemental Bill of Quantities is a breakdown of a project into its component parts and includes descriptions of the work to be carried out, proposed methods and materials, and estimated labour and plant requirements. This type of BoQ is typically used for larger projects and can be created using the Common Arrangement of Work Sections (CAWS) or Uniclass.

An Itemised Bill of Quantities is the most detailed and precise form of BoQ. It breaks down all the required materials, equipment, and labour into specific categories and offers the highest level of accuracy. It is normally used on projects for new construction or major renovations.


Using a bill of quantities for your construction project offers many benefits. It can reduce the time spent on estimating, and it can also help to avoid the errors that commonly occur during the estimation process. These errors include inaccurate measurement, arithmetic mistakes, and the incorrect application of standard methods. These errors can be avoided by following a standard methodology for preparing the bill of quantities.

The main function of a bill of quantities is to provide an accurate description of the construction work. This information can be used by the design team to determine how much material and labour will be required for the project. It can also be used by the contractor to prepare a bid for the construction project. A well-prepared bill of quantities can increase the accuracy of tenders and improve the quality of the construction work.

It can be prepared by cost consultants or Quantity Surveyors, who are usually associated with the engineering firm that is responsible for designing the project. This helps to ensure that the quantity surveyors are familiar with the project and can prepare a thorough and accurate BOQ.

In addition to providing an estimate of the construction work, a bill of quantities also contains a list of rates for materials, labour, and overheads and profit. These rates can be used to compare the prices of different tenderers and to assess which offer the best value.