Counting cost is its forte

  • Smebiz
  • Monday, 02 Oct 2017

Encouraging: Tan spends time with his employees to ensure that all are on the same page.

Quantity surveying firm Perunding Kos T&K takes cost control and budgeting seriously

For any project – be it small or one that runs into billions – costing is the key. Deriving the estimates for the project is both an art and a science.

Consultants run through projects with the help of software to derive estimates. But the final analysis requires a special art.

This is where seasoned consultants such as Datuk Peter Tan Choon Hoo comes in.

The 63-year old founder of Perunding Kos T&K Sdn Bhd keeps stressing on the importance of planning in deriving the costing of a project.

The quantity surveying firm which he founded in 1991 had made a name for meticulous planning when it comes to helping clients plan development cost as well as keeping the cost in check.

“I always tell my clients that we would like to look at things in greater detail. Our philosophy is to minimise variation orders,” he says.

Tan explores with clients in a high level of detail from the start of the projection.

Advance: Staff using the BIM software which increases efficiency and accuracy.
Encouraging: Tan spends time with his employees to ensure that all are on the same page.

“We measure twice and cut once,” says Tan, emphasising the degree of how careful they are in estimating cost.

Such attention to detail has gotten him to keep to his clients’ cost control measures and budgeting. Without any major changes in their development plans, the development cost would likely vary between 2% and 5%, which is a contingency that they are prepared for.

In 2012, the company started implementing building information modelling (BIM) software which gives it a 3D view of a project. This gives it an even higher accuracy from its previously 2D softwares that was implemented since 2006.

BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering, and construction professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

Last year it invested about RM400,000 in the hardware and software infrastructure to further improve its service to clients and next year it is looking to invest a further RM250,000.

The company also offers internship to about 30 students a year to train potential candidates. Starting them young with the right training is something that Tan believes in.

Tan, who graduated from a university in Australia majoring in quantity surveying in 1978, says he takes pride in his meticulous planning and every time he looks at a building that he had offered his quantity surveying and cost control services, he would think about how happy the owner is with the profit made.

“Quantity surveying is the unseen part where many people think that all you need is a good design. If it is out of your budget, the development cannot take place,” he says.

After spending a few years working with the local government in Australia and being a partner with a Melbourne-based quantity surveying firm, Tan says he wanted to come home to Malaysia.

“I wanted to come back to my roots. I remember in the English proficiency test I took before starting my degree where I have to write an essay on why I wanted to study overseas, I wrote that I wanted to learn the best from them and to come home to contribute to the Malaysian society,” he says.

And Tan did just that, contributing his knowledge to Malaysia’s construction industry since 1991. He started with an office in Klang with two other partners.

It was an uphill climb for him as he had to start from scratch, building his network and understanding the rules and regulations in Malaysia.

In 1992 it had its first client who was developing residential houses.

Today the company has over 50 clients and had completed over 600 projects varying from mixed development, hospitals, schools, hotels, logistic hubs, factories, data centres to satellite centre facility.

Some of these projects have gross development values of RM10mil to RM5.5bil.

“We are able to achieve a lot with the talents we have. My senior partners alone have a cumulative experience of over 100 years,” Tan says.

After all, Tan says, quantity surveying involves having a good grasp of architectural and structural design, physics of a building and the building materials.

This is because it offers value engineering which also involves beams and columns to the concrete slab designs. All these elements are particularly pertinent in high rise developments.

“It is common to have differing viewpoints with engineers and we will do option studies for the client. We will tell the engineers to draw in the structural plan what they think is best compared to our recommendations and we will cost it up and let the client decide,” Tan says.

With a wealth of experience, Tan’s team is able to suggest materials and structural designs that could be substituted to meet a client’s budget. It can also advise on the products that a developer can develop with the budget involved and the expected profit margins.

Apart from that, it was also quick to adapt to changing market needs. In 2005, developers became environmentally conscious as going green is the in thing, particularly if they were targeting multinational companies who prefered being in buildings with green building certifications.

“We have to study materials that are not commonly used previously, from special glasses that offer better thermal and sound insulation, low volatile organic compounds paint to timber from sustainable sources as well as other materials and methods of construction that uses a lower carbon foot print,” he says.

This learning process includes visiting and learning from the best practices of green building construction from other countries.

“You might think that our job scope is very technical but it is the ability to sustain the relationship that counts in the long run,” Tan says.

In fact, Tan takes the contrarian view of having demanding clients is a good thing whereas many shy away from them.

“These clients are perceived as difficult for others but for us, we think we have an edge where we are able to have a relationship with them and these clients are unlikely to look elsewhere,” he says.

The team understands that it is not about getting a contract. It is about being able to serve the clients to their satisfaction.

Also, Tan sees his business as a service and it is never perfect. It is the commitment to improve and helping the client that counts.

“People think there are difficult clients, but we think otherwise. Our clients are successful people and we understand that they are successful because they are detail orientated and precise.

“We don’t think they are difficult clients because they ask for more information and elaboration. We think it is part and parcel of the relationship,” Tan says.

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