What is a Construction Takeoff?In the construction industry there are many terms thrown around depending on your specific trade, but one that is common to estimators from all trades is the construction takeoff also known as the quantity takeoff or material takeoff, which is the first step in the construction cost estimating process. Depending on the complexity of the project a construction takeoff can be as simple as measuring the square footage of an area to determine flooring and/or carpet requirements or in more advanced cases counting all the light fixtures, receptacles and measuring out conduit and wire to estimate a fully functional electrical system. In these examples, to perform a construction takeoff the first step in building an accurate estimate you’ll need a full set of construction drawings printed to scale along with a few few highlighters, measuring tools i.e. digital scale master and a way to capture and save the quantities as you perform the quantity takeoff and eventually move over to your estimating solution. Or takeoff software if working with digital plans in PDF format. A construction takeoff by definition is the process of quantifying the material quantity required for a construction project by counting and measuring items from a set of drawings that construction businesses receive from general contractors and owners. The items being counted and measured are represented with various symbols that are usually trade specific and depicted on the plans you receive from a general contractor. You’ll use these quantities to build a list of materials required to complete your scope of work and ultimately determine your labor cost and material cost to install each item. The construction takeoff is the starting point to creating and accurate estimate during the construction cost estimating process. The construction takeoff process itself is simple and involves highlighting an item one by one with a highlighter, while simultaneously clicking a hand counter to track the quantity in the case of counted “each” items, or by measuring an item with a digital scale master to get the “linear footage” or “square footage”. The idea behind highlighting the item or “takeoff” is that you’re marking that item as counted and taking it off the plan to ensure you do not miss an item which would lower your overall costs or accidentally count the same item twice which would increase your costs and possibly cost you the bid.
Tools Required to Perform a Construction Takeoff
- Manual Construction Takeoff with Printed Plans
- Construction Project Drawings Printed to Scale
- Highlighters and/or Color Pencils
- Hand Tallying Tool (click counter)
- Digital Scale Master or Engineering Rulers
- Quantity Takeoff Form
- Construction Takeoff with Digital Plans
- Drawings in PDF Format or Image Format
- Computer, Laptop, or Tablet
- Excel or Integrated Estimating Module
How to Perform a Construction TakeoffTo begin the process you’ll need to know the unit of measurement the materials are sold and installed in and this can require some additional calculations, so for example light fixtures are counted as “each” while conduit and wire are measured in “linear feet” and flooring is measured in “square feet”. These are just a few examples, but we’ve outlined some of the most common units of measurements below along with common materials.
What are Common Units of Measure for Construction Takeoff?
- Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Low Voltage Trades
- Each - light fixtures, receptacles, data outlets, bathroom fixtures, air handlers
- Linear Feet - conduit, wire, cable tray, duct work, copper pipe
- General Construction, Finishing Contractors, Roofing, Concrete, Flooring, Painting
- Square Feet - flooring, siding, drywall, ceiling tiles, paint (area footage), carpet (square yards), roofing (converted to squares 100 sqft)
- Cubic Yards - concrete, excavation, landscaping