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HVAC Takeoff Is About More Than Just Fitting Duct Runs

Getting an accurate hvac takeoff is about more than just seeing where duct runs can fit. It involves combining the physics of airflow with the specifications of heating and cooling units to create a system that functions as one whole.

There are a variety of different styles of branch takeoffs. The best ones offer a mix of cost effectiveness and increased airflow performance.

Estimating Software

Estimating software is an invaluable tool for HVAC contractors, whether they’re working on residential or commercial projects. The programs help contractors save time by streamlining estimating and bid calculation processes and improving accuracy. In turn, this increases profit margins and ensures that HVAC projects are completed on time and within budget. Depending on the size of your business, you can find HVAC estimating software that ranges from simple desktop programs with basic features starting at around $100 to fully integrated applications designed for large businesses.

Most of the available software includes multiple tools for all aspects of a project workflow. They allow users to create detailed drawings specific to a job, minimizing the need for manual drawing up plans; integrate design processes with cost estimates by making it easy to add components like ducts or pipe into the plan; and provide a comprehensive material database that updates pricing data constantly so that contractors know what they’re paying for materials even as supplier prices change.

Additionally, most of the best HVAC estimating software programs have integration options with other popular business tools like Gmail, Zoom and accounting programs such as QuickBooks online. These integrations eliminate the need to manage different tools for estimating, bidding, proposals and invoices and streamline communication and collaboration between all parties involved in a project.

Paperless Takeoffs

Rather than printing physical blueprints, digital construction takeoff tools allow users to import PDF plans, scanned plans or plan images into the software. This eliminates paper dependency and cuts supplies costs, while increasing efficiency and productivity.

In addition to the savings on supply costs, digital takeoffs are more accurate than manual counts. This saves time and money because estimators are not wasting valuable working hours counting items manually. Digital takeoffs also make it easier to compare quantities and calculate material requirements, allowing estimators to focus more on fundamental and creative components of estimating.

A good digital construction takeoff tool will allow contractors to create and use templates that can be used on any project from the initial foundation through to roofing. This makes figuring out how much concrete, lumber, framing, drywall, flooring or any other material will be needed for each phase fast and easy. Adding or subtracting from the estimate is done by simply linking the takeoff parts and assemblies to their cost codes in the template or takeoff itself.

When a student submits their homework, the faculty member can view a highlighted layer to easily identify any areas that need further attention or where the organizational structure needs to be improved. This helps to improve student learning and understanding of estimating concepts while eliminating the need for faculty to spend time handling physical documents.


Takeoff services are a great way to reduce the time it takes to create an estimate for a construction project. They provide accurate measurements and help to ensure that the right equipment is sized for the job. This will help to ensure that the system is operating properly and that the project stays within budget.

One of the most important things to consider when preparing an HVAC estimate is the cost of materials and equipment. It’s important to research prices to make sure that you are getting the best deal possible on everything from ducting to compressors. This will help to prevent your estimates from going over budget and make it easier for you to negotiate with contractors.

Round duct takeoffs have their place in the industry, but they aren’t always the most efficient. When they tap into a new branch duct, they often cause the new duct to function like one much smaller in diameter because air doesn’t like to turn sharp corners. The next step up from this takeoff is a directional duct takeoff, such as the shoetap style or an HETO (heat exchanger takeoff). These fittings have some form of a metal scoop or extractor that grabs and directs the airflow into the branch duct it’s feeding.

These fittings still have a airflow penalty, but it’s less severe than with a regular round takeoff. A better option is a rectangular takeoff that has a flat face so it mounts to the duct and a tapered opening on one end. It’s much more efficient than a shoetap or an HETO because it allows the air to change direction more easily.


Performing accurate material takeoffs ensures that the quantities incorporated into estimates and bids accurately reflect materials and labor costs. This allows contractors to be competitive and win more jobs. Accurate material takeoffs also help minimize rework, improve workflow, and optimize resource utilization.

The best digital takeoff software will allow users to identify and measure linear components on a set of plans, as well as determine the necessary amount of area in a space—both of which are critical to creating an accurate estimate. These measurements can be in lengths like feet (ft), meters, or millimeters, and they can also be in volume, as in cubic feet (cft) or cubic metres.

Virtually all takeoff software will have the ability to count items on digitized blueprints, and most will have an auto-count function that can automatically recognize and count figures, lines, and other elements. This is especially helpful when there are multiple objects and items of interest on a plan that have the same name, such as a light fixture, pipe, or electrical outlet.

Contractors should be sure that the takeoff software they choose is compatible with their preferred file types and methods of input, as well as their systems requirements. Some products require a Windows operating system and can only be used on site, while others can work on a mobile device or cloud platform. Some will even sync edits across team members, allowing collaboration on projects.