In construction, material estimation is a key step in developing project cost proposals. It is vital that the data is accurate to avoid costly remediation and delays.
To get accurate estimates, estimators must first prepare a quantity takeoff. Typically, this process is done manually using paper blueprints, scale rulers and calculators.
What is a Quantity Takeoff?
Many people are familiar with the term quantity takeoff but may not understand what it actually entails. This process is widely used in construction and can have significant impact on project success. It requires a specialized skill set that includes a deep understanding of data management, Excel, and estimating software. As a result, it is time-consuming and labor intensive. Unfortunately, attempts to shorten the process by cutting corners can end up backfiring in the long run.
The first step of conducting a quantity takeoff is taking measurements from the plans to prepare an estimate for the project. This can be done manually or digitally. The former takes up more time and leads to error, while the latter speeds up the process and increases accuracy.
Once the estimation has been completed, it must be compiled into a comprehensive list of materials that will be needed for the job. This list can then be used to submit a bid or negotiate with the contractor. To create this list, estimators must carefully review the plan and specifications to identify all the materials needed to construct the design shown in the plans.
Depending on the type of construction, there are various ways to determine the quantities of materials required. For example, surface area can be estimated by multiplying length and width or by converting cubic volume into value. In addition, if any materials are purchased by the unit (such as doorknobs), they must be accurately counted and included in the material takeoff list.
There are also other methods to produce a quantity takeoff that don’t involve direct measurement or counting. These include computer programs that automatically generate a detailed takeoff report. These programs, however, are not the same as a traditional manual takeoff and should not be misconstrued as a replacement for it. These programs still require human operators and interpreters and cannot replace the indispensable insights of trained estimators with years of experience.
Quantity takeoffs can be conducted either manually or digitally, but they should always start with a thorough review of the plans and a complete understanding of the responsibilities involved. Those who are tasked with the responsibility of conducting takeoffs should not be afraid to ask questions when they are unclear about their duties or the expectations of the project.
Who Needs to Do a Quantity Takeoff?
While it can be tempting to cut corners on a project like a quantity takeoff, the best approach is to invest in accurate, thorough work from beginning to end. This will save time and effort in the long run, as a well-prepared estimate is much more likely to win a bid than an inaccurate one. It is important to note that, even with digital takeoff software, accurate estimation is a process that requires considerable skill and experience on the part of the estimator. This is why it is often difficult to substitute a computer program for the expertise of an experienced estimator during a quantity takeoff.
Quantity surveyors and estimators typically prepare a quantity takeoff by reviewing and measuring the physical requirements of a construction project in order to create an estimate of the materials needed to complete it. They may use a variety of tools, including paper blueprints, a tape measure, a calculator or an Excel spreadsheet with cell formulas. During this process, they must translate 2D into 3D, count every material and item in the plan, and then calculate each measurement using a combination of volume and linear measurements.
Regardless of their specialized training or preferred methodology, all of these professionals need to know how to accurately perform a quantity takeoff. The resulting estimate will determine the cost of materials and equipment necessary to build the plan, so it is critical that this step be completed without errors.
In addition to requiring sharp observation skills and substantial amount of patience, the process also requires expert knowledge of the construction industry, as well as an understanding of the product costs and any allowances that may apply. The takeoff process can be complicated and time-consuming, and if not done correctly, there is a risk that significant mistakes will occur that could negatively impact the final cost proposal.
It should be noted that, unlike a traditional cost estimate, a quantity takeoff does not account for labor, overheads, permits or insurance. Instead, it focuses solely on isolating the material requirements of a project and transposing them into a cost-based estimate. For a faster, easier and more accurate way to prepare a quantity takeoff, consider leveraging 1build’s Enhanced Cost Estimating Services, which utilizes next-generation technology and world-class estimators to improve the quality of both manual and digital takeoff processes.
What Are the Advantages of a Quantity Takeoff?
A quantity takeoff is the first step in determining how cost-effective a construction project can be. It involves a process of pinpointing materials, measuring them and incorporating this data into the price estimate. The accuracy of the takeoff can help contractors win bids, meet deadlines and reduce costly construction waste.
While some may see quantity takeoffs as tiresome or labor intensive, the truth is that it’s one of the most important processes in the preconstruction phase. The more accurate the takeoff is, the better prepared the contractor will be to set realistic and competitive prices. It also helps prevent budgetary surprises down the road and translates into cost savings for both the client and the contractor.
Quantity takeoffs are used by architects, engineers and construction managers on large-scale projects. The specific industry doesn’t matter as much as the quality of the takeoff and the team members who conduct it. The key to conducting a successful quantity takeoff is communication. This is why it is essential for the team to be coordinated, working together to produce a comprehensive and complete estimate.
Traditionally, quantity takeoffs were performed manually by a skilled quantity surveyor using 2D blueprints. However, with the advent of digital technology, many organizations have opted to use construction estimating software with takeoff capabilities to simplify the process and increase efficiency. These tools allow estimators to scan blueprints into digital files that can be easily analyzed by computers. The computer software performs all the complex calculations that would otherwise be time-consuming to do by hand, eliminating any chance of error caused by broken spreadsheet formulas or incorrect values being entered.
Another advantage of using digital takeoff software is the ability to collaborate and share the information with others in real-time, increasing productivity and reducing errors. This solution also allows teams to work in parallel on a project, which can accelerate the process and save valuable time.
There is a tendency to treat material takeoffs as a qualifier or a tail-end item; it is important for everyone involved in organizing the front end of a project to understand the importance of taking accurate measurements and producing meaningful cost estimates. The result will be a proposal that begins with realistic materials and finishes on a reasonable timeline.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Quantity Takeoff?
When it comes to doing a quantity takeoff, a mistake can be costly. Even a tiny measurement error can trigger an exponentially larger problem when estimating construction costs. That’s why it’s so important for estimators to work accurately. This is especially true when it’s time to submit bids. A single estimate error can cause a bid to lose out to competitors that don’t have the same level of accuracy.
Quantity takeoffs are a crucial step in determining project scope and budget. They allow estimators to prepare cost estimates with confidence, while also ensuring they’re meeting project deadlines. Unfortunately, inaccurate takeoffs are still common. In fact, they may account for up to 20% of all construction mistakes. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the number of errors in your estimate. The first is to use the right methods to do a quantity takeoff. The second is to use the right technology to make the process more efficient.
The traditional way of doing a quantity takeoff involves using paper blueprints, a scale ruler, and a calculator. This method can be time-consuming and labor intensive, especially on large projects. Furthermore, it’s difficult to be accurate if you’re working from physical drawings or blueprints instead of a computer screen.
Fortunately, there are now estimation software programs that can do a quantity takeoff much more efficiently and accurately. These programs can take advantage of digital data, like CAD files, and upload up-to-date price lists to ensure that material figures are correct. The software can also spot errors that a human might miss, like measuring errors.
However, despite the benefits of a digital quantity takeoff, there’s no replacement for experience and expertise. The best way to ensure your estimate is as accurate as possible is to work with a reputable quantity takeoff service provider. These services are available from a variety of construction data management companies. They use next-generation technology and world-class estimators to improve the detail and accuracy of quantity takeoffs and enhance cost estimating services.