Article first published by The Association of South African Quantity Surveyors.

Initiated at a meeting held in the offices of the International Monetary Fund in Washington in 2015, the International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) presents the opportunity to make a meaningful comparative analysis of construction costs between countries on a global scale, not least by international organisations such as the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, and various other funding institutions, government and non-government organisations and the United Nations.

South Africa is expected to roll out 55 bankable infrastructure projects in the next few years. Image credit: Steffanuti Stocks

South Africa is expected to roll out 55 bankable infrastructure projects in the next few years. Image credit: Steffanuti Stocks

Given the interest by international funding institutions for global consistency in construction cost reporting, as advocated by the ICMS, Karl Trusler, EduTech director at the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS), says the government’s planned infrastructure roll-out makes it necessary for Quantity Surveyors to be open to expanding some of their cost reporting methods.

“With President Cyril Ramaphosa receiving a ‘firm commitment’ amounting to billions of rands for the 55 bankable infrastructure projects, it is essential to know what reporting standards the big lenders will accept when reviewing project proposals. South African Quantity Surveyors who want to do work across borders or overseas will also benefit from familiarising themselves with the ICMS, as global consistency in construction cost benchmarking is becoming increasingly sought-after among critical stakeholders in the international built environment,” says Trusler.

The ICMS is an international standard that aims to provide greater global consistency in classifying, defining, measuring, analysing and presenting construction costs at a project, regional, state, national, or international level. It is not a detailed method of measuring construction works. Instead, it is a high-level benchmarking and reporting framework for international cost classification, reporting, and comparison.

“Project developers and financiers want to be able to compare apples with apples when reviewing project costs across the globe. The data bank of crucial information provided by the ICMS enables informed decision-making. Although not mandatory, the ICMS is likely to become an increasingly valuable requirement for South African Quantity Surveyors who are involved on large infrastructure projects that are funded by foreign investors,” Trusler says.

The first ICMS was launched in 2015 and it was a guideline for reporting on the capital investment costs of a project. Last year, the ICMS Coalition – which consists of 45 organisations from around the world and 27 Standards Setting Committee members – published the second edition of the ICMS.

The new ICMS provides a lifecycle cost reporting guideline so that developers and infrastructure owners know how their investments will perform once they are operational. This type of information is crucial for both private and public-sector role-players who are more motivated than ever before to invest in the development of world-class infrastructure,” says Trusler.

Among the 55 projects that government has earmarked for development is an aviation park near Upington, a smart city in Lanseria, a R3.1-billion Space Infrastructure Hub, a 516-hectare citrus farm in the Eastern Cape, and a water project that includes some 160km of pipe, and pump stations to get water to Eskom’s large power stations, Medupi and Matimba, amongst others.

There is sufficient overlap between the current cost reporting methods that Professional Quantity Surveyors use and the ICMS, so we are working towards delivering a solution that enables the ICMS report to be generated in parallel with the way we currently do cost reporting in South Africa. I look forward to helping members embrace and benefit from this solution,” concludes Trusler.

An industry-wide invitation is open to all, to attend for free, a 1-hour live international panel discussion on the ICMS from 4:00 – 5:00 pm on Tuesday the 1st September 2020. The panel will comprise of Justin Sullivan (ICMS Coalition Chair) Ken Creighton (ICMS Coalition Past Chair) Gerry O’Sullivan (Standards Setting Committee Vice-Chair) and Julia Dela Cruz (ICMS Coalition Trustee) and will be hosted by the ASAQS.