5 Frequently Asked Questions About Quantity Takeoff Addressed

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Quantity Takeoff Addressed

June 1, 2023
Quantity Surveying
5 Frequently Asked Questions About Quantity Takeoff Addressed

Quantity takeoff is a crucial process in the construction industry that involves quantifying the materials, equipment, and labor required for a project. It serves as the foundation for accurate cost estimation, resource planning, and project management. However, many professionals and stakeholders often have questions about this essential aspect of construction estimation. In this article, we aim to address five frequently asked questions about quantity takeoff, providing you with clear and concise answers to enhance your understanding. Whether you're an estimator, project manager, or simply curious about construction processes, read on to gain valuable insights into quantity takeoff and its significance in successful project execution.

What is takeoff in estimating?

A quantity takeoff, also known as a material takeoff or construction takeoff, is a process used in construction and estimating to determine the quantities of materials and resources required for a project. It involves itemizing and calculating the quantities of various construction components, such as materials, equipment, and labor, necessary to complete a specific project.

Here's an example of a quantity takeoff for a simple construction project:

Let's say you are estimating the construction of a small residential house. The quantity takeoff process would involve determining the quantities of materials required for various components of the project, such as:

  1. Foundation: You would calculate the quantities of materials needed for the foundation, including concrete, reinforcing steel, and formwork.
  2. Walls: You would determine the quantities of bricks or blocks, mortar, and reinforcement bars needed for the walls.
  3. Roofing: You would calculate the quantities of roofing materials, such as shingles, underlayment, and nails.
  4. Flooring: You would determine the quantities of flooring materials, such as tiles, wooden planks, or carpet, along with adhesives and grout.
  5. Electrical: You would calculate the quantities of electrical components, such as cables, switches, outlets, and light fixtures.
  6. Plumbing: You would determine the quantities of pipes, fittings, valves, and fixtures required for the plumbing system.
  7. Finishes: You would calculate the quantities of materials needed for finishes, such as paint, drywall, trim, and tiles.

By accurately estimating the quantities of these materials, you can create a comprehensive bill of quantities, which helps in determining the project's cost, ordering materials, and scheduling construction activities.

How do you create a quantity takeoff?

Creating a quantity takeoff involves a systematic process that requires careful examination of construction drawings, specifications, and other project documentation. Here are the general steps to create a quantity takeoff:

  1. Review project documentation: Familiarize yourself with the construction drawings, specifications, and any other relevant project documentation. Understand the scope of work and identify the various components that need to be quantified.
  2. Break down the project: Divide the project into logical sections or work packages. This could include elements like foundations, walls, floors, roofing, electrical systems, plumbing, etc. Breaking down the project helps organize the quantity takeoff process and ensures no items are missed.
  3. Analyze the drawings: Examine the construction drawings in detail. Identify the dimensions, sizes, quantities, and specifications of the different materials and components. Pay attention to symbols, labels, and notes that indicate the specific requirements.
  4. Take measurements: Measure the dimensions of the components shown on the drawings. This can be done manually using rulers, measuring tapes, or digital measurement tools. Input the measurements into a spreadsheet or estimating software for accurate calculations.
  5. Calculate quantities: Using the measurements and specifications, calculate the quantities of materials required for each component. Multiply the dimensions by the appropriate conversion factors to obtain quantities in the required units (e.g., cubic meters, square feet, linear feet, etc.).
  6. Account for waste and allowances: Consider waste factors and allowances for each material. Different materials may have different waste factors based on installation methods, cutting losses, or industry standards. Include additional quantities for any contingencies or allowances specified in the project documents.
  7. Document the takeoff: Record the quantities in a clear and organized format. This can be done using a spreadsheet, estimating software, or specialized takeoff tools. Group the quantities by work packages and provide detailed descriptions and specifications.
  8. Review and validate: Double-check your calculations and review the quantity takeoff for accuracy. Cross-reference your measurements and calculations with the construction drawings and specifications to ensure accuracy and completeness.
  9. Prepare a bill of quantities: Compile the quantities into a comprehensive bill of quantities or material schedule. This document serves as a basis for estimating costs, ordering materials, and scheduling construction activities.

It's worth noting that the process may vary depending on the complexity of the project and the specific requirements of the construction industry or organization. Utilizing specialized estimating software or working with experienced estimators can also streamline the quantity takeoff process.

What are the units for quantity takeoff?

Quantity takeoffs typically involve measuring and quantifying various construction components. The units used in quantity takeoffs can vary depending on the type of material or component being measured. Here are some common units used in quantity takeoffs:


  1. Feet (ft) and inches (in)
  2. Meters (m) and centimeters (cm)


  1. Square feet (sq ft) and square inches (sq in)
  2. Square meters (sq m) and square centimeters (sq cm)


  1. Cubic feet (cu ft) and cubic inches (cu in)
  2. Cubic meters (cu m) and cubic centimeters (cu cm)


  1. Each (ea) or Unit (unit)
  2. This is used for components like doors, windows, light fixtures, switches, etc.


  1. Pounds (lbs) and ounces (oz)
  2. Kilograms (kg) and grams (g)
  3. This is used for materials like steel, concrete, pipes, etc.


  1. Hours (hr) and minutes (min)
  2. This is used for labor estimates or equipment usage.


  1. Depending on the context, quantity takeoffs may also include cost estimates, where the unit would be the currency of the project (e.g., US Dollars, Euros, etc.).

It's important to carefully review the construction drawings, specifications, and industry standards to determine the appropriate units for each material or component. Additionally, ensure consistency in units throughout the quantity takeoff to avoid errors or confusion.

What are the benefits of quantity takeoff?

Quantity takeoffs offer several benefits in the construction industry. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Accurate cost estimation: Quantity takeoffs provide a detailed breakdown of materials, equipment, and labor required for a project. By quantifying these elements, estimators can accurately calculate the costs associated with each component. This allows for more precise cost estimation, helping project stakeholders in budgeting, bidding, and financial planning.
  2. Material optimization: A thorough quantity takeoff helps identify the exact quantities of materials needed for a project. This information enables project managers and procurement teams to optimize material orders, reducing waste, excess inventory, and associated costs. It ensures that materials are ordered in the right quantities and at the appropriate time, enhancing project efficiency.
  3. Improved project planning: Quantity takeoffs assist in creating a comprehensive project plan. By quantifying different project components, stakeholders can better plan construction activities, determine resource requirements, and establish realistic timelines. This allows for better coordination, scheduling, and allocation of resources, leading to smoother project execution.
  4. Enhanced decision-making: Accurate quantity takeoffs provide project stakeholders with valuable data for informed decision-making. Estimators and project managers can analyze quantities, costs, and material specifications to evaluate alternative options, compare different materials or techniques, and make decisions that optimize project outcomes in terms of quality, cost, and time.
  5. Bid preparation and contract negotiations: Quantity takeoffs play a crucial role in the bidding process. Contractors can use the detailed quantity information to prepare competitive and accurate bids for projects. It also facilitates contract negotiations, as both parties can have a clear understanding of the quantities and associated costs involved.
  6. Change order management: Quantity takeoffs act as a baseline for tracking changes during the project. If there are modifications or variations in the scope of work, the original quantity takeoff provides a reference point to assess the impact on quantities, costs, and schedules. This helps in managing change orders more effectively and minimizing potential disputes.
  7. Documentation and record-keeping: Quantity takeoffs serve as valuable documentation throughout the construction process. They provide a record of the estimated quantities and costs, which can be referenced during project progress, audits, and post-project analysis. They contribute to better project documentation and knowledge transfer for future projects.

Overall, quantity takeoffs contribute to better cost control, resource management, project planning, and decision-making. They enable stakeholders to have a more accurate understanding of project requirements, leading to improved project outcomes and increased efficiency.

What is the difference between a full detailed estimate and a quantity takeoff?

A full detailed estimate and a quantity takeoff are related processes in construction estimation, but they serve different purposes and involve different levels of detail. Here's a breakdown of the key differences:

Quantity Takeoff:

Full Detailed Estimate:

In summary, a quantity takeoff focuses on determining the physical quantities of construction components, while a full detailed estimate combines the quantity takeoff with cost estimation to provide a comprehensive understanding of the project's costs and pricing.

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