Our People: Joseph’s top Bourekenaar (QS)
Meet Linda Lodetti. As the first woman to have won a prestigious national bursary (in South Africa) with a leading construction firm, it’s clear Linda is no slouch.
While being labelled a nerd at school may have been slightly unsettling, that aptitude for analysis, numbers and attention to detail has paid off. It’s what makes Linda so very good in her role as Managing Quantity Surveyor (QS) at Joseph and Associates.
We asked Linda to tell us a bit more about the mysterious world of the QS!
Hi Linda, first up can you explain what a Managing Quantity Surveyor at Joseph & Associates does?
As Managing QS my primary focus is to create an enabling environment for my team of QS’s. That means everything from securing work opportunities for the team to ensuring they have the right tools, training and software to deliver.
Here at Joseph’s my team and I work across a range of projects that involve insurance residential earthquake repairs, Motels and retreats, Commercial Investments, Religious buildings to landmark Heritage Projects such as Canterbury Provincial Chambers and Old Municipal Chambers.
And what is the main function of a QS?
The main function is to provide cost consultancy services – essentially tell you what building construction is likely to cost. We get involved at various stages in a project typically however our work commences at the feasibility state: when concepts are being proposed and appropriate budgets need to be developed to establish feasibility. Establishing robust budgets thus is key to what we do.
What makes a good QS then?
Most importantly you need to be able to visualise three- dimensionally often from two-dimensional drawings! That’s the key to determine relevant quantities and assess the costs involved in constructing the building.
A good QS though is also an experienced one – over time you get to appreciate where to focus for the highest cost impact elements and what numbers are actually telling you about the building.
What do you like about being a QS?
Essentially what could be a boring task of number crunching is always related to a building!
It is this sense of being connected to something that has been created from nothing and is only realised by the incredible coordination and efforts of a team of experts; no one person is less important than the other. We over-come challenges as a team.
The evidence, “a building” ,is like a monument that will be there for you to tell your grandchildren about – Hey, Granny was involved in that building!
Why do projects need a QS?
The Afrikaans or Dutch term for a QS is “Bourekenaar” which translates as “Building Accountant”. So just like any accountant we not only crunch numbers upfront, we also look at the life-cycle costs and provide insight and intel throughout the process. We act as independent professionals who are fair, impartial and reasonable on all contractual matters between the client and the contractor.
There’s a lot of pressure on a QS then to be correct in their assumptions and analysis; how do you manage this?
It’s not always easy to keep a project within budget and as a project develops this can change. A QS is expected to alert the team when the design is going off track.
It’s a catch 22 situation though as often you need the design information in order to undertake the check. Sometimes it’s not always the usual suspects of the architectural design that is the problem, as we’ve seen in Christchurch structural design can have a huge impact on budget as can M&E curved balls.
Sometimes it feels like a dark art of crystal ball gazing!
What led you to be a QS?
My father was a builder and we grew up surrounded by design plans. He encouraged me not to limit myself and was instrumental in getting my High School Principal to allow me to do Technical Drawing when the rules said girls do Home Economics and boys do Technical Drawing.
My old school friends still tease me that I was one of the few students who bunked school to study! But the results were that I won a national bursary to study a 4 year Honours degree- Bsc QS at University of Wiwatersrand, South Africa with SM Goldstein a leading construction company and one of the first women to have won the bursary! It was a very prestigious award and not only paid for my studies but provided accommodation costs.
Finally, how does a QS unwind – or more to the point how do you unwind?
Me? Well I like to hike – I have the Camino de Santiago in Spain on my ‘to do’ list for sure. I paint and I’m a mother to two amazing daughters and Granny to four grandchildren who light up my life.