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How to Prepare a Takeoff

Takeoffs can be completed manually or with a variety of takeoff software solutions. Some even include estimating capabilities for bidding and quoting.

Many of these takeoff tools allow estimators to use a blueprint digitizer and count items on digital drawings to calculate linear, area and volume measurements. They also can apply material and part costs to those measurements.


The first step in preparing a takeoff is studying the blueprints, also known as plans or drawings. Blueprints are typically at scale and contain detailed images of building structures that need to be constructed. These are usually prepared by architects or engineers to show layouts and floor arrangements.

Manually reading and measuring a blueprint is a time-consuming process. It can also be prone to error. It is easy to misread a scale, misplace your ruler or use the wrong calculator. These errors can lead to a number being missed or counted twice, which can result in a costly estimate.

A good mechanical takeoff software program can save you up to two and four times more time than manual measurements and counts. This frees up more time for you to focus on bidding and winning more work or spending more time with your family and friends. In addition, many takeoff programs can automatically measure blueprints using advanced algorithms and are compatible with multiple file formats and input sources. Some even include a database of material and part costs based on distributors, further saving you valuable time.


There are two ways that takeoffs can be conducted — manually and digitally. Contractors often complete manual takeoffs using physical blueprints, but more and more estimators are choosing to digitize their drawings with computer software.

This saves a lot of time and effort, while also reducing errors that can occur in manual processes. These errors can include misinterpretation of the drawings, miscalculations and omissions. AI-powered takeoff tools can eliminate many of these errors, resulting in more accurate estimates and cost savings.

Takeoff products that offer integrated Excel and estimating bidding software can provide an added level of functionality. For example, some products will allow users to input values into formulas that help calculate power, HVAC, and other requirements.

These tools can automatically count items such as ducts, pipes and cable lengths, which are crucial for MEP projects. In addition, they can perform counts of areas (footprints and square footage) and linear items like walls and boundaries. This helps contractors create a more accurate material list and saves them time by allowing them to generate their bids more quickly.


Counts for mechanical takeoff are the quantities of individual elements, such as light fixtures and sink faucets, or grouped items, such as pipe and wire, in an electrical or plumbing plan. This information is crucial for preparing construction estimates and bids. Moreover, it helps contractors estimate labor and equipment costs.

Construction material takeoffs are time-consuming processes that require specialized skills to perform correctly. Whether conducted manually or through a digital takeoff program, the end result should be an accurate list of materials and realistic pricing values that can be used to prepare project estimates.

To avoid costly mistakes, use a digital takeoff software with a part catalog that includes a variety of different mechanical components. You should also look for a takeoff solution that works with other estimating and project management tools. This will enable you to streamline your estimating process and increase efficiency. In addition, consider the number of drawing formats a takeoff solution supports. Choose a tool that supports the types of drawings and 3D models your company uses. Additionally, opt for one that offers a wide range of takeoff types (linear, area, and count). Finally, look for a product that features automated counts and measurement capabilities.

Measurement Software

Measurement software is a powerful tool for mechanical takeoff. It allows contractors to use a digitizer tablet to take measurements from digital versions of project blueprints instead of manually calculating the information by hand, which is prone to error. These tools also offer a number of other features to improve the takeoff process.

Most takeoff software includes a variety of counting and measurement capabilities, including a count function that uses point-and-click methods or auto-count technology to identify and count items on the digitized plans. They can also perform linear measurements and pull lengths of materials like piping, wiring, trim, and more. Most of these solutions also come with a database that contains pricing information for materials and components based on distributors and regions.

Choosing the right product depends on the needs of the company. Construction professionals should look for a takeoff solution that integrates with the project management, bidding, building information modeling (BIM), or estimating tools they already have invested in. They should also consider the cost of the tool compared to the time savings it will generate over manual methods.

MTO Sheet

A material takeoff is a list of the precise portions of each set of construction materials needed for a particular project. It is a crucial part of the building process. It also specifies the quality and dimensions of each set of materials. It is an essential tool for any contractor to prepare an accurate estimate.

A comprehensive material takeoff will include all the raw and prefabricated materials required for a project. It will list everything from concrete and timber to lengths of electrical cables and plumbing pipes. It will also specify the type of materials, such as specific grades of steel and other materials.

While some contractors may feel comfortable completing a manual takeoff, many use construction cost estimation software to make the process easier. Regardless of the method used, it is critical to build in a small cushion for price fluctuations when estimating. This will help you avoid overestimating and underestimating the amount of materials necessary for your project. This can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.