One of our regular guests on this show, Brad Beer from BMT Tax Depreciation, explains what exactly a Quantity Surveyor is and how investors can benefit by having one on the team.
Kevin: One of our regular guests on the show is Brad Beer from BMT Tax Depreciation. Today, I’m going to talk to Brad about the role of a quantity surveyor – and Brad has mentioned this on a number of occasions – and find out a little bit more about what they actually do.
Brad, welcome to the show. Thanks for your time.
Brad: Thanks, Kevin. Great to be here.
Kevin: Brad, tell me exactly what is a quantity surveyor?
Brad: Kevin, a quantity surveyor is essentially someone who specializes in the measurement and estimating of buildings. I did a construction management degree or building degree, and I come out of that learning some quantity surveying skills.
We’re guys who can get the plans of a building and we can measure up the amount of concrete, the amount of steel, we can count the bricks and count the tiles if necessary based on a set of plans, and then from that, work out what it actually costs to build that building in the place it’s being built. We take the materials, we measure how much of them there is, we can cost them, and then actually get in there and building a building out of them.
People think when you say surveyor, you’re one of those guys standing on the side of the road but it’s a different science. It’s measurement and estimating to do construction.
Kevin: Quantity surveyors, it seems to me, can choose to get involved at any stage of the construction process. BMT’s focus is in tax depreciation. What is the reason behind that? Why did you choose that part?
Brad: We started back 20-odd years ago now in a wider range of quantity surveying. One of my original partners actually came out of a traditional quantity surveying firm, and they get involved in cost plans at early stages, working with the builders, and working with the banks.
But this area of tax depreciation, which is one of the areas that BMT is focused on, having seen the traditional quantity surveyors don’t focus or put so much energy into that niche area of the market and learn the tax rules as well as they possibly could and should meant that we started a business in tax depreciation schedules just specializing solely on that by just marrying the quantity surveying skills with some tax expertise as well, which are the two skills you really need to marry together to get the maximum deductions out of those properties.
Kevin: Brad, is there any guiding legislation under which quantity surveyors are recognized?
Brad: Yes. For the purpose of depreciation, Taxation Ruling 9725, if you really want to read it up…
Kevin: That’s heavy.
Brad: …Says where the construction costs are not available for the purpose of depreciation, then the tax office will accept a relevant estimate done by a professional such as a quantity surveyor. It doesn’t say a quantity surveyor is the only guy who can do it, and it never mentions one particular quantity surveyor or anything like that.
The ATO or the government won’t legislate a particular organization, but they’ll recognize our costs where those costs aren’t available because we’re the guys who normally count bricks and tell you how much they should cost. These claims are related to a portion of those costs, and because we know how to estimate costs, they accept those numbers.
Kevin: I would imagine, from what you’re telling me, that it would be advisable to get involved with a quantity surveyor fairly early in the construction process, almost at the planning stage.
Brad: It depends. On large projects, quantity surveyors get involved more to make sure and check on the construction costs, but for the purpose of depreciation, just having that question at the start is really good to see is there anything we can change that is going to help to maximize those deductions?
There is not a massive amount of things to change in a residential house or a unit. And with a unit, you’re not making those decisions – someone who you’re buying it off is a lot of the time. But knowing and crunching these numbers prior to building these things, and if there are any decisions to be made, then talking early doesn’t cost you anything and is definitely a good idea.
Kevin: Who monitors quantity surveyors? Is there an industry body to govern them?
Brad: We have, like most industries, the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, or the AIQS, of which I’m an associate member and a number of the staff here are. Also members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, which is wider in the surveying world, and I’m also a member of the Auctioneers and Valuers Association, which is not so much monitoring there, but we’re valuers for the purpose of plant and equipment valuation, just to make sure we understand those methodologies.
On top of that, as a quantity surveyor that does a depreciation schedule, the Tax Practitioners Board We have to be registered tax agents, which I am and the business is. The idea of that is in order to do a deprecation schedule, you need some tax knowledge and experience, as well, so you have to go through a process to make sure you’re registered as a tax agent to do a depreciation schedule for a property investor.
Kevin: Brad Beer, BMT Tax Depreciation, thank you very much for your time.
Brad: Thanks, Kevin. Always great to be here. Thank you.