Takeoff software: our guide to construction takeoffs

Construction takeoffs, sometimes referred to as material takeoffs, are an essential piece for most construction projects. No matter the size of the job, takeoffs play an essential role in providing an accurate estimate for the builder or tradie and their customer.

What is a takeoff construction? 

What exactly is a takeoff in construction? “The estimation of quantities for a contract from plans and drawings which are then recorded in the bill of quantities,” according to Dictionary of Construction Terms. Takeoff preparation — plan details, proper measurement, and the number of items, all connected to a list of prices — leads to an accurate estimate, and in more important terms, a smoothly run job from start to finish.

In some cases, experienced builders will likely know the estimated cost and materials required to complete a job. While material quantities needed for the project are a vital part of the takeoff process, other elements include material costs, labour, and administrative overhead (procurement and site supervision), and other expenses for a complete and accurate estimate. The more complex a job is, the greater the benefit of using a precise takeoff tool in arriving at an accurate and complete estimate.

Manual or Digital Takeoffs 

Many small builders and trades create takeoffs manually with a pen or pencil and paper and some rules of thumb for pricing. Depending on preference, a builder or tradie may use coloured pencils or pens and highlighters to distinguish key elements in the drawings. The use of Microsoft Excel for creating material pricing using formulas built-in is quite common. The time and skill involved to create manual blueprints take years to develop, often learned from painful mistakes.

However, translating the information into an accurate quote or estimate for the customer takes an extraordinary amount of time.

While many builders and trades continue to rely on a manual method to takeoffs, as complex and time consuming as they can be, it can produce errors and due to changes, inaccurate measuring and calculations. Today, there are options to create digitally produced takeoffs, and the benefits are enormous.

If you’re reading this, you’re searching for a more accessible and beneficial way to create a takeoff. There are many software options on the market, and if you’re a small builder or trade, you may be asking yourself if it’s worth it. If you’re looking to save time and win more work, then yes, it’s worth it. Here’s our guide to using takeoff software.

The Benefits of Using Takeoff Software 

1. Efficiency

Using software to create takeoffs can save you hours of time and effort, and generates a more reliable output. Most of the elements used in a takeoff are repeatable (floor area, roof area, framed wall area, etc.), so using a digital system with stored information allows for a more consistent and straightforward process.

2. Accuracy

A digital takeoff allows for easy organisation of information. Measuring and pricing is a one-step process and automatically linked, enabling precise quantities and accurate estimates. Plus, changes are easy to manage with a few clicks if plans change.

3. Integration and Collaboration

Many software systems automate the request for quote (RFQ) process, so you’re not chasing your suppliers for quotes. Most software platforms also allow you to see who has looked at your RFQ email to manage it better.

4. Competitive Advantage

  • Get ahead of your competitors with faster and more accurate quotes and takeoffs, allowing more time to build.
  • Win more business.
  • Have time for yourself.
  • Have confidence in your estimate. 

The Buildxact Digital Takeoff Advantage 

There are several software platforms available in the market. Buildxact, however, is uniquely designed for the small builder and other trades. We have built our platform to enable users to be up and running in a matter of hours. And, our takeoff tool is easy to set up and run in a matter of minutes. Just upload your drawings into one of our pre-made templates, and in 10-minutes, you’re 85% done with an estimate.

We offer the easiest to use takeoff tool, which allows you to speed up the estimating process. Upload your plans, name your pages, conduct any initial clean-up of floor plans, and click the scale button. An easy calibration process allows you to make sure all drawings are to scale.

What our takeoff software can do 

Our proprietary way of assembling groups of materials and labour, called recipes, enables you to offer accurate estimates to your customers and send a list of materials to your suppliers, such as door openings. You can group items for a complete door opening assembly, including door, lockset, number of hinges, and the labour to install it. Buildxact has populated common items (framing, concrete with rebar, and drywall) into recipes, and you can also add or build your own. It makes ordering materials easier as it figures your quantities out for you.

Once you have calibrated your plans and made corrections, added in recipes, and sent RFQs to your suppliers, and you can create an estimate or quote for your customer. It’s that simple.

To learn more about how our software can help you be more efficient and accurate in your business, try our 14-day FREE trial.