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It consists of various items of work in the form of a statement depicting quantities, description and rate per unit. It is used to define the quality and quantity of works to be carried out by main contractor for completing work. It is made in tabular format and is mainly used for inviting tender and supplied to contractors to fill up the rates. On receipt of tenders the rates are compared and decision is made regarding the work. It is prepared by quantity surveyors and building estimators to be handed over to contractor.

Some of the purposes are-

Two components of Bill of Quantities (BOQ) are –

1. Firm Bill of Quantities – To get lump sump price for a fully designed project this form is adopted. One of its advantage is that it can be price accurately. It provides a good basis for assessing the cost of those changes which are made necessarily to the works described in tender documents.

2. Approximate Bill of Quantities – When there is lack of information to prepare at the tender stage, or when there arises no need for firm bill of quantities then this form is adopted. One of its advantage is that less time is required to prepare this and also less cost is involved. Sometimes there is greater cost uncertainty which is one of its major drawbacks.

Following is the example of a BOQ table for Painting

CONTRACTOR or QS Details (owner of BOA)
Page of BoQ (1 of 1) and section of works (Wall Finishes)
Item Description Quantity Unit Rate Total

Touch up primer, apply two undercoats, and one top coat of washable eggshell paint; colour TBA, application in accordance with manufacturers recommendations, on ready primed surfaces as outline specification, refer to M60 of Architects Specification

To Walls
“Prime, prep and apply 2 coats of diamond matt to all plastered stud partitions, over” 300mm wide
130 m2 5.00 650
Ditto n.e. 300 girth, to reveals / soffits 30 m 7 210
To General Wood Surfaces
“Door Frames, stops and architraves, each individually not exceeding 300mm girth”
50 m 5 250
Door Leaves

Exceeding 300mm girth

10 m2 15 150
M20 Plaster/Rendered/Roughcast Coating

“Plaster; thistle hard wall, base coat 12 thick, finishing coat thistle multi finish, 3mm thick; steel troweled; as NBS clauses M20 210A and” M10 280A

Masonry, general surfaces walls exceeding 300mm girth 130 m2 5 650
Masonry, general surfaces, reveals and soffits n.e. 300mm girth 30 m 10 300


Following are the steps involved in preparing bill of quantities-

1. Measurements are taken from actual plot or plan and various quantities are calculated like volume, area, etc.

2. Estimation is prepared for each quantity in the form of summary.

3. Rates are then taken from standard guidelines and total amount is calculated by comparing it with standard guidelines.

4. Various labourers involved are estimated as well as contingencies and lump-sump of other extra quantities.

5. Finally, an amount is calculated as a whole and then handed over to contractor for carrying out the work as per tenders.

Dimensions are taken through software like AUTOCAD and then bill of quantities is prepared generally in Microsoft Excel.Other software are there like Cubit Standard, Primus and many more. But widely Microsoft Excel is used because-

Some advantages are –

1. It eliminates any guesswork involved by providing accurate information.
2. It helps to create a low risk and low-cost tendering environment.
3. It helps to clearly visualize the prices involved and if prices go up then it provides ideas to cut off extra charges.
4. It provides more transparency in the relationship between owner and contractor as well as builder.

It has endless scope in future and without it nothing in construction industry is possible. Although the process has evolved from manual calculation to software mode, many progresses are still needed. It is very important that a BOQ is prepared to a standard methodology recognised by everyone involved in the project to avoid any misunderstandings or ambiguities. A BOQ is also a valuable document during the process and settlement of any dispute resolution. It also acts as a legal document in case any dispute arises.


• Institution of Civil Engineers, “Types of bill of quantities”-
• Jones Melling, “What is a bill of quantities?” –

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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

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