An estimator will use a project’s blueprints to determine the materials and quantities required to complete the project as depicted during takeoff. This is why a construction estimating takeoff is also known as a material takeoff or a quantity takeoff. A construction takeoff is an essential element within the building construction estimating process. Without it, a contractor doesn’t know which materials they need, or how much of each material they need. This makes it impossible to accurately estimate and bid on a project.
Takeoff is very similar to the process a homeowner, building manager or handyman follows before a trip to the hardware store at the beginning of a project. However, construction takeoffs are done at a much larger scale with a high level of attention to detail.
A Closer Look at Construction Takeoff
Your estimator will compile every single material required, including both raw and prefabricated components, into a single document. Depending on the project, materials may include lumber, steel, concrete, wiring, pipes, lights, drywall, flooring, and windows and doors. The takeoff will also note what type of these materials are required.
Once all the necessary components are listed, your estimator determines the price per material, based on quantity. This may be calculated by item, area, volume, length or another quantity. These costs are added together to arrive at the total cost of materials for the project. If the construction takeoff is inaccurate, the final estimate will also be incorrect. If you win a bid based on an inaccurate takeoff, the wrong quantity of materials may be ordered or the project may come in over (or under) budget.
Takeoff software helps estimators quickly and accurately arrive at total material quantities and costs. Digital takeoffs also allow almost instantaneous adjustments based on changing prices or design updates. While software does eliminate some human error, it should always be paired with the oversight of an experienced estimator.
Using software to assist with construction estimating takeoffs allows estimators to pull pricing information automatically from industry databases. At Chianelli Estimating, we maintain our own database of materials, developed over decades of estimating experience. We also use RSMeans to ensure the accuracy of regional pricing adjustments. In specialized circumstances, a material’s price may be directly from a supplier.
What a Construction Takeoff is Not
A takeoff does not include project costs beyond materials. It is just one part of a complete construction estimate. Your estimator will need to consider expenses such as labor, equipment, shipping and handling, insurance and other overhead costs as well.
The success of your next project is partially dependent on an accurate takeoff. Ensure you’re bidding with a clear understanding of material quantities and costs with professional estimating services.