A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Do a Takeoff in Construction:

We're pleased to share this blog post from our partner Autodesk

The landscape of building nowadays offers very little space for error. Construction experts must make sure that project expenses and materials are correctly estimated in order to produce accurate estimates and optimise their bids in light of escalating material costs and razor-thin margins.

You will need to develop the ability to approach a takeoff in construction successfully, in order to do all of this. Construction takeoffs, when done correctly, give you clarity on every project component, enabling you to create precise estimates and proceed with confidence.

This blog discusses the fundamentals of a construction takeoff, including: 

What is a Takeoff in Construction?  

The process of listing and measuring the materials needed for a project in order to determine the project's cost, is known as a construction takeoff. Quantifying the materials required to begin and complete the job is part of the construction takeoff, the first step in the estimating process.


The Anatomy of a Construction Takeoff 

More profitable projects result from precise construction takeoffs and quantification. General contractors and subcontractors may allot resources effectively and create more competitive bids with the help of precise information on materials and pricing. It is important to understand who is involved in the process of construction takeoffs and the components required to complete this successfully.


Who Completes Construction Takeoffs? 

Construction takeoffs are frequently performed by estimators at both general contracting and subcontracting companies to ascertain the prices of the materials, labour, and equipment needed to produce a precise and competitive offer.

Despite the fact that every project is different, estimators frequently rely on their extensive understanding of the materials needed to execute the project. In order to find savings, they also draw on their prior, successfully completed projects. To have a successful and profitable bid, their main goal is to precisely quantify the materials and determine the expenses.

Larger companies will likely have multiple estimators working on larger more complex projects, quantifying different scopes that they specialise in. 

Estimators frequently refer to the project plans, models, and documents before starting to compile the list of materials.


What Exactly is in a Construction Takeoff? 

A construction takeoff lists the materials needed for the project, along with their respective quantities and costs.  

Construction takeoffs, as they are known in the industry, are very thorough documents that list the precise sorts of materials needed, along with their measurements and cost. The next step is for estimators to input each type of material, along with its description, measurement, needed quantity, and price, into a spreadsheet, or better yet, an estimating solution.

For example, when entering the required amount of concrete for the project, the estimator may input the following information in the construction takeoff: 

Description: 6″ concrete slab on third floor 
QTY: 1000  
UNIT: Sq. ft.  


How to Do a Takeoff in Construction from Start to Finish:

Step 1: Review the Project Plans 

You can visualise the project using the project plans and documents to determine the items to utilise and their appropriate quantities.

For a manual takeoff, you will need to review the physical copies of these documents by hand. For a digital construction takeoff solution, you can request scanned copies which you can then upload into the software. 

To make sure they have found all the documents pertinent to the scope they are measuring and that they are familiar with the specifications provided, estimators pay rigorous attention to specifics inside project documentation.

Step 2: Count and List the Materials Required  

You must begin counting the number of items required to complete the project as you look over the project's blueprint. For instance, in order to estimate expenditures, you'll need to know how many windows, doors, and fixtures the building would require. The specific actions you’ll take at this stage will depend on how you’re implementing the construction takeoff. Otherwise, you’ll have to perform counts manually. 

On the other hand, many digital takeoff tools automate the counting process, so all you have to do is review and modify the counts when needed. 

Step 3: Measure the Various Components of the Project 

Accurate measurements of whatever it is that you are building must also be taken. After verifying the scale, you should calculate the square footage of a given room, for instance, to determine the quantities of materials necessary to build it, whether it is calculating the surface area for installing drywall, paint, or insulation, or calculating linear footage for trims, cables, and other items. 

Once again, the specific steps to take depend on whether you're performing manual or digital takeoffs, as well as the precise nature of your project. On paper plans, manual operations will use a scale ruler; however, construction takeoff software can generate such measurements more quickly.

Step 4: Determine the Quantities 

You must calculate the necessary material quantities once you obtain the list of materials for the project and the necessary materials. Take stock of the necessary materials along with measurements of various project components, and then use that data to determine the right quantities.

For example, if the plan calls for a 2,500-sq ft. indoor area, you’ll need to iron out the different types of materials required to build that room and the quantities for each. 

Step 5: Determine the Costs 

Calculating the costs of the items on your list is the next step. To estimate the cost of materials at this point, you might have to rely on your industry expertise. You can also use such information if your suppliers have submitted quotations in some circumstances.

This process can be facilitated by construction software. Some digital tools provide databases with up-to-date pricing information, so estimators can leverage that data to determine their costs.

You can proceed with the remaining steps of the estimating procedure after finishing the aforementioned steps. This takes into account your mark-up and additional expenses to get a final estimate and bid.


Construction Takeoff Solutions 

Construction takeoffs can be performed manually or digitally, as was already explained. The former entails manually counting and measuring materials as well as examining physical documents. Through automated and easier-to-use features, the latter can speed up takeoffs.

While using digital tools requires you to invest in technology, today’s takeoff software provides a substantial return on investment. You should take into account the following while deciding which approach is appropriate for your practice.


Save Time with Autodesk Takeoff

Autodesk Takeoff is a construction takeoff software enabling you to optimise every part of your takeoff workflow. Whether you’re counting fixtures, calculating flooring, or wall surface area for painting, or even trying to access quantifies from a BIM model to accomplish significant time savings, using a digital solution can speed up your tasks.

Digital takeoff software can frequently assist in automating some of the more time-consuming elements of construction takeoff. For instance, machine learning tools like symbol detection on 2D designs can reduce the arduous work of manually removing similar symbols like doors, outlets columns, and light fixtures one at a time.

Additionally, estimating teams may always access the most up-to-date construction documents, drawings, and models at any given point, thanks to real-time cloud-based document management. The accessibility enables more efficient change management process to easily visualise and account for changes when new documents are issued. 


Boost Efficiency 

Construction software can help you save time and reduce the effort that is needed to complete certain tasks. An example of this includes Autodesk Takeoff, which has 3D takeoff capabilities so you can easily access quantities from BIM models.  

It significantly streamlines the takeoff process so teams may focus more effort and resources to higher-level duties while also enhancing the visualisation of the project to discover any gaps. Simultaneously working in 2D and 3D in one application can help estimators quantify project scopes more efficiently.  

A team may confidently move forward with the estimation process knowing that the takeoff is error-free thanks to digital solutions that also eliminate human error.


Increase Profitability 

Since the margins in the construction sector are notoriously thin, precise pricing information is essential. In addition to streamlining the process of cost calculations, digital takeoff solutions help remove the need to print out blueprints to perform manual takeoffs, which is both a costly and time-consuming task.

Companies are no longer required to keep reams of documents within their offices, as everything can be stored safely on the cloud and can be referenceable whenever needed. 

Future bids can be informed by easy access to prior project data, allowing estimators to produce more precisely priced estimates. Estimators frequently handle several projects at once. Therefore, by minimising manual processes and reducing rework, estimators are empowered to perform takeoff in a fraction of the time.


Improve Collaboration 

For businesses with sizable estimating teams, construction software is crucial. Working with desktop-based takeoff solutions can be very challenging. The need that estimators save all project files and takeoff to their local device limits their ability to work from any location and prevents them from collaborating with other estimators on the team.

It becomes challenging to guarantee that everyone is working from the most recent project materials and accurately accounting for all the changes made with a revision when there are numerous silos. This can lead to expensive errors that cost businesses the opportunity to win a profitable job or lose a bid. Cloud-based solutions like Autodesk Takeoff can be the game-changer in keeping team members on the same page and ensuring that everyone can view and access updated information at any given time.  

The software also notifies stakeholders when documents are updated, so all collaborators are aware of any changes.  

Since everyone is working on the same platform, teams can stay aligned and experience fewer headaches and miscommunication issues. To reduce time when beginning a new project and to increase standardisation throughout their organisation, estimating teams can even leverage project templates in Autodesk Takeoff. Finally breaking down organisational silos, estimators can establish a standardised approach.


Create More Competitive Bids 

All of the aforementioned lead to higher quality bids. Estimators can generate competitive bids that win more work because they can estimate quantities and costs more precisely.


A Better Solution for Estimators 

The profitability and success of your projects depend greatly on the construction takeoffs. The procedure must be as efficient as possible because of this. By providing you and your teams with access to powerful tools that enhance takeoff speed, accuracy, and collaboration, Autodesk Takeoff aids you in achieving this goal.

To acquire a thorough picture of your projects and quickly determine their scope, use the software's 2D and 3D takeoff capabilities. To assess and complete 2D and 3D takeoff, many estimators can have concurrent access to the same project files, resulting in a synchronous workflow. Utilise formulas in Autodesk Takeoff to create more complicated quantities with certainty.

Your teams, documents, and information are all kept in one location by Autodesk Takeoff, which also acts as a common data environment. The software enables estimators and other project stakeholders to work together more effectively and generate estimates of high quality.

As a member of the Autodesk Construction Cloud family, Autodesk Takeoff functions alongside other powerful tools—including Autodesk Build and Autodesk BIM Collaborate—enabling teams to be connected across the entire project lifecycle.

Watch a preview of an introduction to Autodesk Takeoff 

If you are interested in learning more about Autodesk Takeoff or the Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform, please get in touch with us via the details below.


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