In construction, quantity take off is very essential and it should be keenly monitored. It is one of the factors in construction cost estimating, and gives a clear view of the entire process. When dealing with both large and small projects quantity take-offs can be used in order to get the total costs for the whole process and also to determine whether the project is of profitable to the contractor and the client.
The final estimate of a construction project is very dependent on quantity take offs. During the estimation process, the contractor, subcontractors and quantity surveyors will produce estimates at different stages of the construction process.
Sometimes, people in the construction industry prefer to forego the long process of quantity take off and estimation. Therefore, they might not realize the value of a quantity take off as well as how much easier it makes the construction process.
For this, it is important to highlight the importance of a quantity take off and also define what it is and what it does. Let’s start by defining a quantity take off.
What is a Quantity Take off?
In the simplest terms possible, a quantity take off is a list of all the materials necessary for a construction project. Despite being a simple concept, quantity take offs are complex. Before construction commences, it is important to know all the material take offs required as well as their sizes and amounts.
Therefore, the cost estimator needs to compile a comprehensive list of costs for all the listed materials. To produce a quantity take off, contractors and cost estimators must study an analyze the blueprints an schematics of the construction project.
From these documents, the estimator can compile a list of all the materials required and in what sizes as well as quantity. Quantity take off is not easy, walk in the park task. In the past, estimators needed to be skilled and experienced in preparing quantity take offs. However, today, the use of digital estimation is making work easier.
Granted, construction estimators still need to be accurate and skilled, but the process is no longer as time-consuming as it was in the past. Digital estimation software makes it easy for estimators to produce accurate digital take offs.
Needless to say, quantity take offs play an integral role in the construction process. It helps inform the contractor of the quality and quantity of the materials required. Quantity take offs account for a large percentage of the final estimate, therefore, the take off should not only be accurate but also feature up to date market prices.
Quantity take offs are the very 0first stage which is done during the bidding process, although an estimator can make few changes only if there is some design changes or client preference design. A quantity take off can be changed until the decided design is met and so large complex projects can have as many revisions to the quantity take off as compared to smaller projects.
Components of a Quantity Take Off
As earlier discussed, the purpose of a quantity take off is to provide a list of all materials required for a construction project. They also detail the costs of each material. That is the basis of the quantity take off. However, there are other components of a quantity take off.
The first part of a quantity take off is the compilation of a list of all the materials required for the project. Here, the list will feature all raw materials like concrete, steel, lumber and many others. Then, the take off will also include prefabrication in construction, necessary for the project.
Take off is coined from taking off all the materials from project design, blueprint or schematics. Therefore, even as an estimator creates a list of materials, they also need to note down the specifics of each of these materials.
Prefabricated items, on the other hand, only require a simple count. However, raw materials like lumber, you need to include the type, weight and also account for shipping, storage and transportation costs.
When quantifying materials, there is a high amount of detail required. If the wrong materials are ordered, then they derail the project timeline which then leads to more costs. Manual quantity take offs require an estimator who is not afraid of complex mathematics. One who is not only accurate but thorough and time conscious.
Moreover, the estimator must also be familiar with construction conditions before producing a quantity take off. A good understanding of the construction process can help an estimator carry out the quantity take off with little to no setbacks.
It is essential that an estimator also includes extra materials for every material to account for wastage and damages during the construction process.
Armed with the comprehensive list of the materials required, specifications and quantities, the estimator can now proceed to prepare the price estimates for the materials. Quantity take offs basically help an estimator know what materials are needed for the construction project and also provide the total estimated costs for the materials.
For large construction projects, a cost estimator can rely on bids from material suppliers to prepare the material cost estimates. However, the estimator can also use their database of material costs, especially for smaller projects. However, it is crucial that their database is up to date and in line with current market values.
Once the estimator has the material costs for each material, then they can proceed to prepare a total material cost estimate. It is always advisable to markup the total material costs. Markup depends on several factors.
Also important to note, market prices are in constant flux, therefore, the estimator should also consider factors that could influence material prices. However, when a contractor is placing a bid, they need to remain within a realistic space as other bidders. A very low or very high bid will raise suspicions.
Types of Quantity Take off
There are many people that can prepare a quantity take off, this is not exclusively left to construction cost estimators. Therefore, each quantity take off is unique. Everyone has their way of preparing a quantity take off and may also present their cost analysis in different ways.
However, even with the unique ways of conducting quantity take offs, there are two major types of quantity take offs. The manual take off has been dominant for a long time, however, the emergence of digital take off software has made digital take offs very popular.
Manual Take off
A manual take off is done manually. In other words, it is a take off that does not rely on the assistance of digital software. Manual take offs are done by hand, estimators will examine physical drawings of a construction project and note down all the materials required for construction.
Manual take offs today utilize a bit of assistance form computer software. While the information is still entered by hand, the computer only helps keep the data in one place.
Digital Take off
Thanks to technology, there are cost estimation programs that have digital take off capabilities. Therefore, a digital quantity take off is completed digitally. It goes without saying that a digital take off is more beneficial than the manual take off.
First, a digital take off is less time consuming than a manual take off. Also, calculations are done digitally. Each program has features that aid in the process.
Instead of going through blueprints and schematics manually, a scan is uploaded to the program and then the program will analyze and generate a list of the materials required. After that, the estimator can then make adjustments to the list provided by the program, for example increasing the materials to account for damages.
Complex calculations are embedded in the program and therefore the estimator only needs to feed the accurate data into the program. Using digital take off is easier than the tedious process of a manual take off.
Some digital software can even draw cost data from construction cost databases available online. All an estimator needs to do in a digital take off is apply markups to the prices.
Manual take offs are still in use since people are taking some time to adjust to digital take offs, however, they are slowly fading out of use due to the huge difference in benefits between the two. Using digital take offs thins the margin of error and also helps the estimator work faster and more efficiently.
The process of creating a quantity take off is rigorous and demands a high level of concentration and attention to detail. Digital take offs are increasingly popular because they automate many of the aspects of a take off that are time-consuming and tedious.
It is essential that every take off is accurate to prevent errors and delays in the construction process as well as contractor bids.
To Sum Up
Construction is a process that requires attention, especially when dealing with large projects to ensure that it turns out to be profitable and also to make sure that the right materials are used to avoid complications in the course of construction.