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What is a Bill of Quantities?

K.C. Bruning
Updated May 17, 2024
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A bill of quantities (BOQ) is a piece of paperwork that is used to list the items needed in a particular project. It is most commonly used in relation to construction projects. The document typically includes a mix of material and labor needs and is most often used to help a contractor to estimate the cost of a project in order to prepare an accurate bid for work. Sometimes a bill of quantities is also used by a project manager to determine project needs.

The length of and amount of detail in a BOQ depends upon the size of the project. It typically includes the price, quantity, and type of each item needed. A BOQ can be anywhere from a few sheets of paper to hundreds of pages. The description of each item can be as brief as one line, or contain extensive details and specifications. Often a BOQ will be formatted in table form for easy reading and organization.

The bill of quantities is a key element of project preparation. The document can be used to bid for several different kinds of projects. It may be used to plan for a completely new project, repairs, or for regular maintenance.

In order to finish the project on time and within budget, each element of the BOQ must be thoroughly researched. Preparation of an effective BOQ requires that the professional have access to every detail of the project. It is also important to have access to current standard industry prices for materials and services. These details can usually be found in frequently updated industry guides.

As the process of preparing a bill of quantities is typically time intensive and crucial to the success of a project, it can take a full-time professional to complete. Most of the time, the document is compiled by a quantity surveyor. Individuals in this profession have usually been trained in a wide array of disciplines in order to be able to handle the diverse issues associated with planning a major project.

The bill of quantities can be prepared with a simple spreadsheet program or with software created especially for the creation of these documents. A spreadsheet may be all that is necessary for a small project and the simplicity of setting it up can make the method more efficient. Big projects can be easier to plan with a more complex program that has flexible monitoring, planning and projection features.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
K.C. Bruning
By K.C. Bruning , Former Writer
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and platforms, including About Mechanics. With a degree in English, she crafts compelling blog posts, web copy, resumes, and articles that resonate with readers. Bruning also showcases her passion for writing and learning through her own review site and podcast, offering unique perspectives on various topics.

Discussion Comments

By Esther11 — On Jul 23, 2011

If you are good with numbers, have an ability to budget a big project, have done some construction work and like to research for information, a job as a quantity surveyor may be a good option.

If you like adventure and living in another country, there are opportunities in this field. I've heard about opening in such places as New Zealand, Zambia, Jordon, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.

By PinkLady4 — On Jul 22, 2011

I was visiting a friend who works in the office at a construction site. She works as an assistant for the professional surveyor,who prepares the bill of quantities. She showed me the software she was using to enter the material, pricing, and services needed for the project.

The construction estimating software was really nifty. My friend says the hard part is gathering all the information together. After that, the rest is easy. She likes her work, but it can be pretty stressful when deadlines come up.

K.C. Bruning

K.C. Bruning

Former Writer

Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and...
Learn more
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