How To Do Takeoffs From Blueprints?

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Did you know that for every five tasks you bid on, you seal the deal for one of them? Yes! Hence, as a contractor or subcontractor, you must master the bidding process.

And, to submit a successful bid- you need a clear idea of the different types and quantities of materials needed to finish a construction project. In addition to providing an idea of the labor expenses related to the installation or building of the materials, accurate takeoffs guarantee that the costs and material requirements are properly estimated. Construction takeoff, material takeoff (MTO), or just takeoff are all terms used to describe this. It is a crucial step in the estimation process for a construction project.

Experienced builders typically estimate materials for smaller jobs via guesstimating. But they aren’t necessarily accurate. Besides, larger projects require a more thorough procedure. It gives your client a very precise estimate of the expenses, equipment, labor, and materials.

So, what is a takeoff in construction? And what exactly is included in a blueprint takeoff? How to do takeoffs from blueprints? How doing takeoffs from blueprints manually bottleneck the sales process? Are there any benefits of getting automated blueprint takeoffs? In this blog, we answer all of these questions. Read on.

What is a takeoff in construction?

Construction takeoffs, also known as material takeoffs, are a crucial component of virtually any construction project. No matter the scale of the task, takeoffs are absolutely essential to giving the builder, trader, or end consumer an exact quote. Even individuals working in the electrical and plumbing industry can benefit from it because it will make it easier for them to estimate the amounts and type of material needed for particular projects. 

The construction takeoff is frequently created by an estimator. However, in smaller companies without an estimating team, the business owner or the business development manager dons many hats and doubles up as the estimator. Every component needs to be included, and the person in charge of the construction takeoff must make sure of this.

And- the landscaping maintenance and construction industry nowadays offer very little room for error. Estimators must make sure that project expenses and materials are correctly estimated in order to generate precise estimates and optimize their bids in light of escalating material costs and razor-thin margins.

A takeoff consists of a list of every material that will likely be used in the project. This allows for the estimation of the number, length, volume, and weight of the items as well as the project’s estimated completion time. While determining the necessary material quantities for the project is an essential step in the takeoff process, other components include:

  • material expenses
  • Labor
  • equipment
  • administration costs (procurement and site supervision)
  • additional costs from thorough estimations

Contractors should be able to develop a competitive offer by: 

  • analyzing the project requirements and bill of numbers
  • conducting material takeoffs
  • figuring out overhead and profit margins 

A competitive bid provides the best quality at the most affordable cost.

How to do takeoffs from blueprints accurately and why?

Inaccurate takeoffs can bottleneck the sales process. Because, today, “bids” close faster than ever. You have the BD or an estimator with a lot of work.  They simply take the designs and calculate a price in their head, without caring if the price is high or not since he is already booked solid. 

You have the “low bidder,” who undertakes a little more research into the materials needed. They then prepare estimates of the labor hours needed to complete the work, typically based on prior experiences.

Or you have the high bidder. Without precise or nearly precise measurements, it’s likely that you’ll get too little or too much of the material. Additionally, you overbid or underbid on labor, supplies, and other costs. Incorrect estimates result in placing an unsuccessful bid.

Hence, it is essential to get accurate estimates so that you get the right margins, schedule your operations well, and have a winning bid. The estimate serves as the foundation for your budget, which most likely includes charges for various construction-related expenses like materials and permits. You can stick to your budget and know where your money is going if you have a precise estimate.

Additionally, a construction estimate enables you to give consumers more precise estimates of the potential cost of a project. Customers often prefer to have precise quote ranges so they can estimate their likely project costs. A thorough construction estimate can help you focus your proposal range and gain more clients.

Problems with manually doing blueprint takeoffs

Traditionally, material estimates have been made by hand. By utilizing blueprints to determine how much material—such as bricks, steel girder, piping, etc.,—will be required to finish the project.

These manual takeoffs frequently entail measuring a blueprint to obtain the necessary measurements. However, it is still possible to make a measurement error even on relatively smaller sites.

But for the type of work being quantified, it is essential that the estimator can precisely decode blueprints and drawings (general building plans, electrical, and plumbing schematics, etc.). These will have diagrammatic representations of the project’s dimensions as well as numerous symbols and comments that might specify the kinds of materials needed.

Here’s what a construction blueprint looks like

You can use colored pencils, inks, or markers to separate the various objects and kinds of material mentioned in these blueprints. Calculating the volume of material needed is necessary for items like concrete or asphalt. The required area would be included in the materials used over a sizable region, which would be required for flooring or tiling materials. A straightforward count is sufficient in some circumstances. This would apply to manufactured things like light fixtures.

The materials must now be given a price after the estimator has extracted all of the items required for the project and determined the quantity associated with each one. The next step in how to do takeoffs from blueprints is to figure out how much each item on your list will cost. You may have to rely on your knowledge of the industry at this point to estimate the cost of the materials.

Benefits of getting digital blueprint takeoffs

Manual takeoffs have been traditionally used to prepare estimates. But they can be labor- and time intensive. And if you measure, calculate, or count incorrectly, it can lead to erroneous estimates. An inaccurate takeoff can negatively impact the daily workflow, budget, timeframe, and ultimate cost estimation. A successful operation depends on doing it correctly.

Many estimators are choosing a digital takeoff over a traditional one as they are able to save time while getting greater accuracy. Besides, contractors are able to bid more, especially during the busy seasons. Nowadays, the software allows you to upload blueprints and get accurate measurements. 

Increasingly, digital technology is being used to both speed up the process and deliver better accuracy. Plans can be uploaded to a takeoff construction software package, such as Attentive for blueprint takeoffs, allowing the user to take measurements more easily.  

How to do takeoffs from blueprints with Attentive? (An example)

Imagine you have to construct a pool. So, here’s how you will start it. Most probably, you’ll give the project to a landscape architect. They will design the landscape while deciding where you’ll erect the main structure, and have sofas, pool chairs, tables, other furnishings, hedges, shrubs, etc. This way, they will prepare a blueprint for you that may look like this.

Here, a construction company can create the main structure. A pavement maintenance company will take care of the pavement, parking lot areas, driveways, etc. And a landscaping company will handle the landscaping elements, including softscapes such as installing evergreen flowers, shrubs, etc.

Now, the landscaper in charge of counting, measuring, and calculating elements can log in to the Attentive software and upload the blueprint. You can get accurate takeoffs of all the designated areas, the number of furnishings, quantity, and type of materials, type of fabric, finish, equipment, labor, etc.

The next step in how to do takeoffs from blueprints is having a legend. Architectural symbols and notations on the plan are described in the legend. There are numerous common symbols there for particular projects. However, symbols’ appearances and meanings can vary, making it crucial for each project to check the legend.

Over to you

With our blueprint takeoff software, you can get takeoffs for hardscapes, softscapes, and irrigation plans. Along with the legend and a detailed overview of what is required, you can give this takeoff document to a contractor. And they can deliver the end product no questions asked.

Once you sign up on the AutoMeasure platform, switch to the blueprint takeoff mode. Here, you simply scan the blueprint into the software for a digital takeoff. Once the layout has been thoroughly examined, the platform creates a detailed list of every material needed for the project. Wherever necessary, the estimator can always make manual revisions. The materials can then be given automated, error-free formulas, and processed through the software to provide precise construction take-offs.

In comparison to the manual take-off technique, going digital lowers the possibility of error, cuts down on waste, and boosts productivity. In the end, this results in more tenders being won and more smoothly running projects.

Don’t just take our word for it, try for yourself. For a personalized demo, book a session here

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