Property Australia

Beyond brick counting

Karen Jamal Karen Jamal August 24, 2021

“Most people think we count bricks all day,” says Altus Group quantity surveyor Ben Mules. But there’s much more to cost management and no two days are the same. Meet our latest Secret Star…

Ben Mules, Associate, Cost Management, Altus Group

Three words to describe my job… Challenging. Interesting. Motivating.

When I explain my role to people outside the property industry, I say… It’s surprising how many people don’t know what a quantity surveyor does. Most people think we count bricks all day, but there is a lot more to it than that! You could describe the role as a construction accountant. A quantity surveyor is responsible for the financial side of a construction project; we ensure that the project is completed within its projected budget. This could be during the feasibility stage when we can advise on the most economical approach or during construction by monitoring progress payments regularly. Quantity surveyors work closely with property owners, developers, financiers, contractors and builders – and though they specialise in cost estimation and management, they can also provide related services such as tax depreciation, insurance estimation, mediation and arbitration. No two days are ever the same!

My three daily work essentials are… Banter with my team, a decent coffee in the morning and my (forever changing) to-do list.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt in my role… Every person you work with will have different strengths. Recognising and making the most of these strengths ultimately delivers the best possible outcomes for our team and the client. In addition to this, there should be a bit of fun every day!

My career motivation is… Completing a project that achieves value for money, meets the client’s objectives and leaves a positive legacy – it’s a great feeling. Developing long-lasting professional and personal relationships with both colleagues and clients is what motivates me daily.

My advice to others considering a career in my field… Quantity surveying is a challenging career but allows you to work on various projects across multiple industry sectors. This, combined with the ability to learn and develop knowledge of the development process from inception to project completion, is a fantastic basis for any career in property and construction. Quantity surveyors are typically highly sought after due to their broad technical knowledge across the industry.

The building or project that embodies what I do… I was lucky enough to work on the NSW Rugby League Centre of Excellence. It was designed to provide support facilities and offices for NSW Rugby League and nurture the talents of junior representative sides through to the men’s and women’s NSW State of Origin teams. Located in Sydney Olympic Park, the same tunnel athletes walked through during the Sydney Olympics links the Centre of Excellence to Stadium Australia. It is used exclusively by players during State of Origin matches and is decorated with the names and images of former Rugby League stars. Go the Blues!

The inspirational quote I live by… “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” Wayne Gretzky
This year I’ll be… Gaining my Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors accreditation. It’s important to maintain continued professional development as a quantity surveyor and always aim to deliver the highest possible standard of professional excellence.

Who nominated Ben? David Collins, Director, Altus Group

Why is Ben a Secret Star? Ben has a work ethic and positive attitude second to none, and is a vital part of the Altus Group team. Since joining Altus Group, Ben has steadily progressed his career through his diligence, technical skills and ability to build lasting relationships with key clients. He brings energy and a positive attitude to everything he does and consistently delivers clients with exceptional outcomes. I am both proud and pleased to nominate Ben as a Secret Star.