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News & Press: 2018 News Items

A brief history of the standard system of measurement in South Africa

Saturday, 14 April 2018  
Posted by: Bert vd Heever
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The development of standard systems of measurement in South Africa took place over many years.

T. Moore recorded the period in our history between 1905 and 1928 in his book "A brief History of Quantity Surveying Institutions in South Africa" which was published in 1929. In it, mention is made of the first published standard system in South Africa.

1906 Standard System"Some time prior to the founding of the Transvaal Society of Quantity Surveyors there had been negotiations between The Transvaal Colony Building Trades Employers ' Federation and T. Moore, Chief Quantity Surveyor, Transvaal Public Works Department, with reference to the preparation of a standard system of measurement. Subsequently at a meeting held in September, 1905, under the Presidency of C.W. Giovanetti (now C.B.E., M.L.A.) , the draft suggestion prepared by T. Moore was considered and the general principles adopted.

The Transvaal Society of Quantity Surveyors later took over the Standard System, and, in 1906, revised and published it (a small green covered book), and it continued in use until 1913."

Further editions followed sporadically that had a progressive tendency of prescribing more and more detail to be included in bills of quantities culminating in the revised fifth edition published in 1985. The committee responsible for drafting the sixth edition reversed this tendency by simplifying the Standard System as it was considered not worthwhile to spend so much time on the preparation of unnecessary comprehensive bills of quantities prescribing that quantity surveyors measure almost all material and labour to the finest detail. The sixth edition was published in 1991 followed by revisions thereto in 1999 and 2013. The 2013 revision was the first to introduce a tabulated format but did not change any of the principles of the 1999 revision apart from rectifying a few obvious errors.

The seventh edition followed soon thereafter, taking into consideration international tendencies, and with the expectation that this latest edition may also be used by countries registered with the Africa Association of Quantity Surveyors (AAQS) thereby adopting a common set of rules for the measurement of building works as result of more and more work being procured across borders by contractors and professional consultants.*

* Taken from the introduction to the Standard System of Measuring Building Work Seventh Edition Illustrated and Explained now available in our Web Shop