A construction project’s takeoff is an essential step in the cost estimation process. The quantity and dimensions of the materials and supplies required for the project are calculated by contractors and project managers using the blueprints. The cost estimates, project proposals, and supply order forms are then created using that data.
However, gathering this specific information from project plans and producing the takeoff data can be a very time-consuming process for contractors.
Traditionally, contractors used printed plans, rulers, calculators, and pencils to perform quantity takeoff by hand. For the benefit of the contemporary contractor, businesses have developed takeoff software to streamline and enhance this procedure.
This manual will cover the tools that tradespeople and contractors can use to expedite and streamline the takeoff procedure. We’ll start with a description of the procedure before going over all the ways that technology can be useful and what to look for when evaluating software providers. Finally, we offer in-depth analyses of the top products available on the market for each use.
Construction Takeoff: What is it?
Quantity takeoff is merely one of several steps in the bidding process for construction projects. It is helpful to first comprehend how performing takeoff fits into the bidding process in order to appreciate all of its complexities.
There is a tremendous amount of planning that takes place prior to any major construction project ever beginning. The creation of blueprints for a building or infrastructure project is typically done in collaboration with a team of engineers, architects, and designers led by the project sponsor or business owner. After the plans are complete, the project owner must hire contractors to carry out the designs at a reasonable cost. The process of bidding starts here.
The bid package is typically put together by the project owner, which could be a company, a state or federal agency, and it contains a summary of the project’s specifics. It will also contain important details about the project’s location and scheduling needs, as well as project blueprints. This bid package is distributed to a number of contractors or, for projects supported by the government, made available to all contractors by posting it online.
Contractors interested in working on the project must deliver to the project sponsor a thorough summary of the materials, labor costs, and schedules by the bid deadline. This comprehensive budget and schedule summary is frequently referred to as a bid or project proposal.
Most of the time, the bidders who offer the most affordable prices and who can complete the project as specified will get the job. It is required by law for the most competitive bid to be accepted for projects that are funded by the government.
Contractors and estimators review the project blueprints as part of the takeoff process and literally “take off,” or extract, the quantity and material requirements for the project. The estimated costs for the project bid are then calculated using this knowledge of the necessary materials and supplies.
Contractors must refer to the measurements and annotations on the plans in order to extract these details, and then use those numbers to calculate the various quantities of various supplies and materials. Takeoff items include, for instance:
- A list of the number of studs, joints, light fixtures, or beams.
- Cable, wiring, trim, piping, or rebar lengths.
- Areas of drywall, grass, or flooring.
- A lot of dirt, sand, and rocks for landscaping.
In the past, extracting this data by hand from project blueprints required the use of rulers, pencils, and calculators. As you might expect, this process can be time-consuming and challenging to complete accurately.
Digitizers have assisted estimators in speeding up and increasing the takeoff process’ accuracy over the past 20 years. A handheld pen-like device is an illustration of a blueprint digitizer, which tracks lengths as you move it across blueprints to help you measure lengths more precisely.
What Is Software for Construction Takeoff?
Software for extracting material counts and estimates from digital blueprints is referred to as “construction takeoff.” Software for takeoff frequently includes tools for estimating costs and labor.
Takeoff software frequently uses digital blueprint formats. The majority of popular file formats for blueprints, including SVG, DXF, DWG, and even PDF or image files, are typically supported by the software.
Instead of manually calculating quantities and measurements—a method that is prone to error—estimators can point, click, and drag information off of the project plans using the digital versions of the blueprints.
The software provider will determine the precise workflows and techniques used to extract this information from the prints.
Construction Takeoff Software Cost
Some of the most transparently priced technologies a buyer will research are construction takeoff tools. Takeoff providers typically charge a flat fee to download the product or a monthly licensing fee for access to online products, unlike larger construction project management solutions that may have complex pricing plans.
Takeoff Software for Windows & Mac Users
- STACK Takeoff
STACK is a cloud-based takeoff and estimating software for the construction industry that enables users to quickly measure digital plans while undertaking project estimation. One of the most well-liked takeoff software products on the market is STACK. All of the main construction trades, such as general contractors, concrete contractors, home builders, interior finishers, landscape specialists, masons, roofers, and other specialty trades, can benefit from its well-rounded design.
With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and high ratings across all of the major software review sites, STACK has one of the best reputations with its customers of all takeoff and estimating software providers.
2. PlanSwift Takeoff
One of the most popular takeoff products available is PlanSwift, which has great features for a range of trades, an intuitive interface, and seamless integration with Microsoft Excel. PlanSwift is one of the best options for takeoff software even though it is incompatible with Apple operating systems and lacks integrated cloud features for collaboration and storage.
The robust feature set of PlanSwift includes useful tools for importing project plans, figuring out material and labor costs, and making custom assemblies. Additionally, they have numerous special features for various trades in the building industry, including takeoff tools specifically designed for general contractors, concrete, drywall, electrical, flooring, framing, decking contractors, HVAC, insulation, landscape, masonry, painting, and plumbing.
3. Autodesk Takeoff
A recent addition to its portfolio of software products for construction industry professionals is a takeoff solution from Autodesk. Autodesk Takeoff has already received praise from users for the speed and accuracy it adds to the takeoff process, despite the fact that the product is still in its early stages.
Behind products like AutoCAD and Revit, Autodesk has been a pioneer and a leader in the development of software for building professionals for four decades. Autodesk announced the addition of its Takeoff software in 2020 and launched it in 2021 as part of its efforts to provide comprehensive, high-quality tools for construction businesses. The new item is a component of the cloud-based Autodesk Construction Cloud, a collection of products that supports projects at every stage of the building process.
Autodesk Takeoff, a cloud-based solution, facilitates data sharing between project teams and improves collaboration and transparency throughout the project. To ensure that teams are using the most recent information, all of the Construction Cloud software makes use of the shared document management system Autodesk Docs. Other Autodesk products like Build and BIM Collaborate can easily incorporate data from Autodesk Takeoff.
The most crucial item on a construction site is the takeoff sheet. You can choose one of the aforementioned programs as a beginning quantity surveyor to use for your work.