How To Do Different Types of Construction Takeoff Projects


A construction takeoff project is estimating quantities of materials, labor, and equipment to complete a construction project. This typically involves accurately measuring the area’s dimensions for a building or structure, including any variations in grade, slope, or elevation. It also considers the material used in the construction and the various elements that must be installed within the space.

While this process may seem cut and dry, a few different types of takeoffs can be done depending on the scope of the construction project, each with its own unique set of considerations.

The Value of Construction Takeoffs

Construction takeoffs directly impact the success of the larger project. By accurately measuring materials, labor, and equipment needed for a particular space, construction takeoffs reduce costs while ensuring all necessary components are accounted for before beginning the project. This helps avoid any costly delays and surprises during the construction process.

Additionally, construction takeoffs allow contractors to provide competitive bids by providing these estimations ahead of time. 

Other benefits include:

  • Improved accuracy in budgeting;
  • Enhanced risk management;
  • Increased project planning efficiency;
  • Reduced errors and rework costs. 

Due to its importance in avoiding costly, many industry professionals suggest that it’s easier and less expensive to do a construction takeoff correctly at the outset than fixing mistakes later on in the project. 

Further, those who invest sufficient time and energy into getting their construction takeoff right typically experience much better cost savings and overall satisfaction with the completed project.

Standard Steps for a Construction Takeoff

To complete a construction takeoff, it is important to understand the following standard steps:

  • Identify construction procurement methods and contract types: Common contract types include fixed price contracts, cost-plus contracts, unit price contracts, and design/build contracts.
  • Source the appropriate software: The use of  construction takeoff software has become increasingly common, and it can help improve accuracy by automating calculations and visualizing the project. It also allows for a more efficient exchange of information between stakeholders.
  • Outline general conditions vs. general requirements: Before starting the takeoff process, document any general conditions (i.e., safety requirements) that must be met and any specific requirements (i.e., specifications of materials or labor rates).
  • Gather project documents: All relevant documents should be gathered before initiating the takeoff process to ensure accuracy within calculations, such as measurements, materials needed, etc.
  • Compile calculations and estimate costs: This involves taking accurate measurements within a space and calculating materials needed for a particular job and any associated costs — both labor and equipment — required for completion.
  • Finalize takeoff and submit bid: Once all calculations have been completed and reviewed, your final construction takeoff can be submitted with a bid to the client.

It's also wise to periodically review takeoffs to ensure accuracy and take appropriate action if necessary.

Additional Considerations

In addition to the standard takeoff steps discussed above, other factors should be considered to ensure the successful completion of any construction project. These include:

  • Time management: Construction takeoffs require a significant amount of time, so plan accordingly to deliver on time and within budget.
  • Scope and budget alignment: Understand the scope of work requested by the client and their overall budget. This will help you make sure all takeoffs take these constraints into account.
  • Safety requirements: All safety requirements must be met when completing takeoffs since this will impact labor costs and materials.
  • Quality control: Construction takeoffs provide an opportunity to make sure all materials used are up to the required standard.

By following these guidelines, construction professionals can ensure their takeoffs are accurate, efficient, and profitable.

Who Is Responsible for a Construction Takeoff?

The responsibility for construction takeoff is typically divided among various construction professionals, including:

  • Quantity surveyors perform the calculations needed to measure the materials, labor, and equipment required for a given space. They’re often aided by cloud-based quantity estimation software, which can make calculation and documentation easier.
  • Cost estimators are responsible for assessing any potential costs associated with the project, such as overhead fees or extra charges. Estimation software designed explicitly for surveyors can help streamline this process.
  • Contractors are ultimately responsible for ensuring that all components of the project meet the original specifications outlined in the contract and come in at or under budget. There are several AI-based reporting tools and software options specifically developed to assist contractors.

With the help of automated construction takeoff software and strong communication, completing a construction takeoff can be efficient and profitable.

Quantity Takeoff vs. Material Takeoff

Quantity and material takeoffs are two separate but related processes used in construction that are necessary to estimate the costs associated with a particular project accurately.

Quantity takeoff  is a process of measuring all of the physical components of a space to determine the quantities of materials and labor needed for successful project completion. However, material takeoff focuses more on evaluating the specific type of materials necessary for a given task. 

How To Do a Concrete Takeoff

A successful concrete takeoff requires precision of materials and labor and accurate measurements and calculations.

Here are some key steps and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Gather relevant information about the job, like blueprints or drawings of the area, or construction specifications.
  • Take accurate measurements of length, width, depth, coverage area, etc., that will be necessary for calculating the volume of concrete needed.
  • Use formulae or AI-powered concrete estimation software to correctly calculate the total amount of cubic yards needed for the job and how much material needs to be ordered.
  • Contact vendors to order materials in time for your project deadlines.
  • Ensure your site is properly prepared by following safety protocols and guidelines set out by local authorities or governing bodies if applicable.

Once all the steps above have been followed, your concrete takeoff will be complete, and you’ll be able to move on to the next project step.

How To Do a Framing Takeoff

A framing takeoff creates the ability to plan, staying within budget while still achieving desired results. Here are some key steps and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Collect the necessary information, such as project plans, drawings, and specifications.
  • Estimate square footage for areas such as walls, interior/exterior doors, and windows that need to be framed.
  • To ensure accuracy in your estimates, take physical measurements or pictures to ensure the exact dimensions of frameable items.
  • Use formulae or software such as an estimating software for framing contractors and estimators to measure dimensions of beams, columns, joists, headers, studs and turn them into estimates and quotes. This can also provide you with labor costs associated with each item being framed based on estimations set out by your local governing body, if applicable.
  • Contact vendors and order materials in time for your project deadlines.

After this, you can move on to the next stage of your project.

How To Do a Drywall Takeoff

A successful drywall takeoff will ensure that there aren’t any surprises at the end of a job or construction project. Here are some key steps to keep in mind:

  • Collect Information such as plans, drawings, and specifications.
  • Take accurate measurements of length, width, and depth for walls, doorways, and arches that need to be covered with drywall.
  • Estimate square footage needed for ceilings, individual wall lengths, and expanses of walls needing multiple sheets.
  • Use formulae or estimating software for drywall contractors to correctly calculate the total amount of drywall panels, studs, and insulation needed for your job. Additionally, this software can turn those estimates into quotes, so you know how much material needs to be ordered and billed for.
  • Contact vendors in time for your project deadlines so that any required materials can be shipped in time for installation.

This process will complete your drywall takeoff, and you can move on to the next step of the project.

How To Do a Steel Takeoff

A steel takeoff involves accurately measuring and estimating the steel material needed for a particular project, as well as the following steps:

  • Collect information such as plans, drawings, and specifications.
  • Take accurate measurements of length, width, and depth for steel beams, columns, and other structural components that need to be ordered. Take pictures to verify accuracy.
  • Estimate the steel material required for a particular project using formulae or  specialized steel estimating software.
  • Contact vendors with project deadlines in mind so any required steel material can be shipped in time for installation.

Keep in mind to check with local building codes or other regulatory authorities to ensure that your project meets all requirements.

How To Do a Painting Takeoff

Here are some steps and considerations for doing a painting takeoff:

  • Gather dimensions of walls, ceiling height, and type of paint.
  • Estimate the amount of time it’ll take to prepare all surfaces in the space for painting, including sanding or scraping old paint or wallpaper, or smoothing out any imperfections in the walls.
  • Calculate the cost of materials needed, such as gallons of primer, rollers, trays, tape, and masking paper.
  • Consider hazards related to working with paint and other compounds while taking appropriate safety measures.

Use painting estimating software to streamline the process by providing an accurate material list and a detailed labor estimate.

How To Do a Flooring Takeoff

Here are some steps and considerations for flooring takeoff:

  • Look for blueprints, drawings, and specifications related to the flooring material used.
  • Take accurate measurements of length, width, and depth for areas needing flooring. Also, estimate any subfloor or underlayment that might need to be installed.
  • Use formulae or specialized flooring estimating software to calculate the total amount of material needed for a job and determine how much material needs to be ordered.
  • Ensure materials are ordered in time for the project deadline and shipped to the job site.

You’ll need to calculate labor costs related to installing a particular type of flooring material, such as carpet or laminate.

How To Do a Masonry Takeoff

Here are some steps and considerations unique to masonry takeoff:

  • Review plans, drawings, and specifications related to the type of masonry used.
  • Take accurate measurements of the length, width, depth, and angle of mortar joints for masonry walls.
  • Estimate the total amount of material needed for a job by calculating the volume of each type of masonry material, including blocks, bricks, stone, and mortar.
  • Order required materials in time for the project deadline.

Streamline your process and calculate labor costs more accurately with masonry estimating software. This can easily generate a comprehensive report on required materials, labor expenses, and even an accurate material list.

Common Mistakes

There are a few common mistakes that can arise during the takeoff process, including:

  • Inaccurate measurements: Measurement errors can lead to ordering materials in the wrong sizes, resulting in delays and extra costs. Double-check measurements to avoid this. 
  • Forgetting to check regulations: Don’t forget to check local building codes and other regulatory authorities for any additional requirements before beginning the takeoff process. This can help prevent time-consuming reworks and potential fines.
  • Incomplete materials list: Account for all materials required for a project. Missing even a small item can lead to costly delays.

By following these tips, you can avoid costly mistakes, as well as reduce the chances of budget overruns and other unforeseen complications.

What To Do After a Construction Takeoff

Once you have your measurements, crafting a construction estimate is next:

  • Include the overhead costs you’ve calculated and split across your projects. These bills are necessary to keep your business afloat.
  • Calculate the cost of labor. Consider how much material one person on your crew can install in an hour. Additionally, assess the number of people you need at the site and for what length of time to finish a project successfully.
  • Include sales tax so it can be passed on to your client seamlessly.

With your entire project cost in hand, you can use your expertise to appropriately mark up the price from this number and aim for the desired profit margin. However, you mustn't go lower than the project cost, or there will be no return on investment.

Overall, the takeoff process is essential for estimating construction costs accurately and getting a better understanding of what it takes to complete a project.

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