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What Is a Material Takeoff?

material takeoff

Material takeoff is a key component to creating an accurate construction estimate or bid. Getting the raw materials for your project wrong can add up to expensive schedule delays and cost overruns.

Performing a material takeoff requires an estimator or contractor to make a detailed list of the required materials from blueprints and project plans. The list will include measurements like length, surface area and volume.


Whether you’re in the construction industry or not, you know how important it is to get your materials right. It’s a crucial part of the bidding process and can make or break your project. However, there are some misconceptions about material takeoffs that are causing confusion. Read on to learn more about what they are, how they work, and why it’s so important to get them right.

A material takeoff is a list of the exact number of the physical materials a project requires to be completed. This includes concrete, lumber, drywall, insulation, electrical wire, and more. A complete material takeoff also includes dimensions, which could include length, width, and height. This information is gathered from project plans and blueprints, and it’s used by contractors to create estimates and bid for projects.

The name “material takeoff” comes from the fact that estimators are literally taking measurements and counting by hand on a physical copy of the plans and blueprints. This is the traditional method and one that has been in use for a long time. It’s a tedious and error-prone process that can cause significant delays in the bidding process.

In the modern world of digital technology, there are a variety of digital construction takeoff solutions available that have greatly improved the efficiency and accuracy of this process. These software programs scan 2D blueprints and convert them into digital versions, which allows for easier measurement and counting. In addition, these programs can perform complex calculation functions for you and even pull pricing data from existing cost libraries.

These digital construction takeoff solutions are ideal for large-scale projects, and they can reduce the amount of time spent on meticulous tasks. They can also help prevent costly mistakes by detecting errors before they are made, and they can provide you with a detailed report of all the necessary materials for your project.

When it comes to preparing for a material takeoff, the most important step is getting the project plans and documents. Whether you’re using a manual method or a digital takeoff program, it’s essential that you have a clean and clear copy of the blueprints and drawings. It’s also important that all parties involved in the estimate have access to the same information, so that there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications.


A material takeoff is an in-depth estimate of all the inputs required for a construction project. It gives contractors an accurate estimate of the type, quantity, and unit price of items that will be needed before construction begins. It also helps them optimize bids for property easily without compromising their profits. Traditionally, material takeoffs have been done manually using scales and a pen and paper. However, new technology has paved the way for faster and more accurate calculations.

Using digital takeoff software, it is possible to calculate the number of units required for a project in a matter of minutes. The process is much more precise than manual methods, reducing the likelihood of errors. This accuracy is particularly important when working with three-dimensional materials like poured concrete or earthworks, which are measured by volume rather than length and width.

In addition to calculating the quantities of the items required, it is also necessary to determine the weight of those materials. This will help to determine shipping costs and will provide a more accurate cost estimate. While not all projects require the measurement of the weight of individual materials, it is important to consider when planning for larger jobs or if there are any specific requirements.

The most common use of a material takeoff is to provide an accurate list of the materials that are needed for a project. This can include everything from the size of pipes to the type and grade of steel that is needed. It can also include details such as the thickness of a wall or the amount of fill required for earthworks. A complete list of the materials required can be used to produce a construction schedule, which is essential for keeping on schedule and minimizing project costs.

While it is easy to confuse material takeoff with a materials list, it is important to understand the difference between these two processes. A materials list is a list of the types and quantities of each individual material that is required for a project, while a material takeoff is an in-depth measurement of the quantities of three-dimensional materials such as poured concrete or earthworks.


A material takeoff is an important part of estimating the amount of materials needed to complete a project. It involves a thorough review of the contract drawings and documents to determine accurate work measurements. The result is an itemized list of all the materials required to build a structure. The two most common ways to perform a material takeoff are manual and digital.

Manual estimates require an estimator to physically look at physical blueprints to measure the quantities of each item. This process is very time-consuming and requires a lot of experience to be accurate. Using a digital construction takeoff process allows contractors to use specialized software to quickly and accurately perform a takeoff. It also saves a tremendous amount of time and effort.

There are several different types of measurements that go into a material takeoff. The most basic is a unit count, which includes counting individual units such as doors, windows, toilets and sinks, electrical wires and piping. Then, cost estimators will multiply these unit figures by their unit prices to estimate the total costs of each item. Linear length is another form of measurement that goes into a material takeoff, and it is used to calculate the total linear footage of the project. Finally, cubic volume is another type of measurement that goes into a material takeoff. This calculation is based on length times width times height, and it gets applied as a value in a material takeoff.

While a solid material takeoff will improve your cost estimates, it is important to remember that there are many other factors that need to be considered when creating a project budget. These include office overhead costs, changes in market prices for raw materials and various other expenses. While a digital takeoff is a great way to speed up the process of calculating these estimates, it is still important to double check them to ensure accuracy.

A material takeoff is a critical component in construction estimating and can make or break your bid for a project. However, it can be difficult to know how to proceed if you don’t have the right tools. Here are some tips to help you get started with your next material takeoff.


The volume of material takeoff involves calculating the number of cubic yards or meters of construction materials required to complete a project. It is a crucial part of any estimate or bid, as it informs not just the total amount of materials needed, but also labor and equipment costs. An accurate volume estimate will ensure that your project can be completed within your client’s budget and will provide you with leverage when negotiating costs.

While different contractors might use different materials and processes to determine quantity, the principles of a construction takeoff remain the same across industries. In the past, taking off a project might involve reviewing physical blueprints, but today digital tools are available to streamline and automate the process, saving time and money. Digital takeoff solutions allow estimators to load digital copies of the construction plans and perform a takeoff using specialized software. The software automatically calculates the numbers of individual objects on the plan and the overall area of the project to create a detailed list of the materials required for each scope of work.

Whether you are performing a material takeoff manually or using a digital tool, you need access to the original blueprints and other relevant project documents. Depending on your method, this could include physical copies that you review by hand or a scanned version uploaded to the takeoff tool. It is important to pay close attention to the details of these documents in order to ensure that you are not overlooking any scopes or missing any information that might be critical for a full and accurate material takeoff.

Once you have the measurements and counts, it is time to produce a takeoff figure. Using trade market values (generally building in a small cushion for price fluctuations), you can then provide your clients with a reasonable estimate of the cost of the materials to be used on a given project.

Considering how critical the material takeoff is to your estimate or bid, it makes sense to invest in a digital solution that can save you both time and money. By implementing a digital construction takeoff program, you can eliminate the need to manually print and store hundreds of pages of blueprints, and you can be sure that your estimates are as precise as possible.