Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Construction engineering


Two basic skills are at the heart of the measurement process: quantification and description. Descriptions answer the question, what is it? This paper examines the process of composing descriptions for bills of quantities measured in accordance with the ARM4 (Agreed Rules of Measurement). This process involves ‘translating’ design information contained in models, drawings and specifications into bill descriptions in order to enable tendering contractors to accurately price the work. The quantity surveyor’s task is to effectively communicate the cost significant information so that the estimator can visualise what is being described.

Descriptions contained in bills of quantities measured in accordance with ARM are formally regulated by its rules. The purpose of ARM is set out in its opening sentence, which states that “These Agreed Rules of Measurement provide a uniform basis for measuring building work and embody the essentials of good practice.” Quantity surveyors must, therefore, provide the required information in a prescribed and structured manner within the bills of quantities.

This paper is primarily addressed to quantity surveying and construction students studying introductory modules in building measurement or quantity surveying studies. The author demonstrates how ARM is applied to compose descriptions of typical ‘basic’ work items from a range of work sections which are typically encountered during the course of an introductory quantities module. Examples of excavation, concrete, brickwork, blockwork, and woodwork descriptions are presented. These worked examples will enable the reader to apply the principles to other situations.