Last edited 19 Feb 2021

Unpriced bill of quantities

A bill of quantities (BoQ) is an important document prepared by a quantity surveyor (or cost consultant) which itemises the type, form and amount of material that will be required on a project, including quantities of labour and other items. Quantities may be measured in number, length, area, volume, weight or time and are known as ‘measured quantities’.

A BoQ may be priced, in that prices are given by suppliers for each item. The sort of considerations that might be considered when pricing work include current costs of materials, machinery hire and transport, wages, overhead expenses associated with administration and so on.

In contrast, an ‘unpriced bill’ is a BoQ that is essentially a template: it breaks down the work required on a project into exact tasks but has no measured quantity (or price) by each task. The information is arranged into a form that is suitable for direct pricing by a supplier, describing the individual items to be priced and the numbers, amounts or quantities of each required for the project.

It is up to the company tendering for the project to insert against each task what it will charge the client to complete that task. This priced bill of quantities constitutes the tenderer's offer. It is the unpriced bill of quantities, but with the tenderer’s rates, costs and totals added.

The preparation, by the client’s consultants, of an unpriced bill of quantities means all tendering contractors will be pricing the same quantities (rather than taking-off quantities from the drawings and specifications themselves), and so provides a fair and accurate system for tendering. It also makes it possible to compare both the overall price and individual items directly with other tenderers’ offers, allowing a detailed assessment of which aspects of a tender may offer good or poor value. This information can assist with tender negotiations.

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