The quantity surveying surfaced in England as early as the eighteenth century. Cartlidge (2002) describes in his book those beginning years, where the quantity surveyor acted for the master tradesmen, measuring the work after completion and usually submitting final accounts to the building owner.As a consequence of these activities, it more and more became the habit of building owners to have work performed under contract and to call for bids before any work was undertaken. A process, therefore, developed whereby specifications and drawings were given out to selected master builders, who would then present proposals for the total price rather than a group of prices from master tradesmen.
Builders soon realized that it would be more economical for them as a group to employ one surveyor to measure quantities for all of them. They could thus split the cost of the surveyor, acquire a similar bill of quantities which made sure that they would all be tendering on the same basis. Later on, the building owner realized that it would be to his own advantage to hire and pay the fees of the quantity surveyor (Willis and Ashworth, 1994). The quantity surveyor thus transformed to a consultant.
The traditional function of the quantity surveyor has been defined by Cartlidge (2002) as a measure and value arrangement. Still practiced by some, the old, conventional role prepares estimated ballpark figures of the initial costs of the building using a single price method of valuation. The design would only then be developed by the architect when the cost was suitable for the client. Afterward, bills of quantities for tendering purposes would be created, progress payments would be quantified, and a final account would be prepared on the basis of the tendered documentation.
Although the process was essential and vital, it was obviously also mainly reactive. In the 1960s, cost planning services were included in the selection of tasks carried out by the quantity surveyor, in order to avoid tenders being received that were over the budget (Egan, 1998).