Takeoff is a term used in the construction industry for a process that involves estimators and contractors reviewing the blueprints of projects and taking off – or removing – the requirements of the materials and the quantity that will be needed for them. The data about the necessary supplies and materials can then be used for the purposes of cost estimation for a bid on the project.
The measurements and annotations in the plans need to be referenced by contractors to extract those details and the numbers used to then work out the various quantities of materials and supplies, a difficult and tedious process when done with rulers, calculators and pencils, but while digitizers have been of assistance in the last twenty years, now computer software – known as takeoff software – has arrived.
What is takeoff software?
Takeoff software is the name given to computer programs that help users to extract material counts as well as estimates from digital blueprints and usually comes with features that also generate labour and cost estimates.
Takeoff software generally refers to the blueprints in their digital form and most software supports the majority of common blueprint file types including the likes of SVG, DWG, PDF, DXF and even image files.
Using digital blueprints allows estimators to be able to point and click and drag data from the project plans instead of having to calculate measurements and quantities manually, which can often result in errors.
How the information is precisely pulled from prints is usually dependant on the particular takeoff software that is used.
Features of takeoff software
Different workflows will be used by software from different providers but a similar array of features is offered by the majority. There are a number of key features that are offered takeoff software to improve the accuracy and the speed of the entire process for both contractors and subcontractors.
These features can be placed into different categories via the takeoff process facet that they help to improve, such as estimating, industry-specific tasks and quantity takeoff.
Almost all takeoff tools provide users with the ability to count items within digitised plans, generally with point-click methods, while particularly advanced takeoff software makes use of optical character recognition in order to make an automatic count of the number of times a particular figure or item shows up in the plans.
Every available takeoff tool enables the identification and measurement of the linear components within plans in order to extract the required lengths of a variety of materials such as piping, trim, wiring etc.
One of the other basic features that can be found in takeoff software is known as area measurement, which enables estimators to draw or identify enclosed figures in order to work out its area, and then the required material amount. The majority of software will also allow users to be able to calculate volumes from plans.
All of these features can play an important role in the work of residential/remodelling home builders by simplifying and increasing the efficiency of the takeoff process.