Arguably one of the most essential documents to ensure a construction project’s success, a material takeoff (MTO) is a comprehensive list of all materials and their quantities required to complete a project derived from the construction drawings and plans. Also referred to as a construction takeoff, quantity takeoff, or simply a takeoff, is a crucial element in accurately estimating and bidding on a construction job.
When you’re estimating your next concrete job, regardless of whether you’re putting together a quick quote or submitting a formal bid, you need to nail your takeoff. If your material takeoff measurements and calculations aren’t accurate, you’ll overestimate or underestimate the project.
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The goal is clear, win the bid. The road toward this goal is full of twists and turns and may include a detour or two and it begins with an estimate. As a construction cost estimator, the ability to pivot and adjust to unexpected changes is a necessary skill.
Estimating is one of the most difficult jobs in construction. It is also one of the most important. Profits are typically won or lost based on how accurate your estimates are and how closely they match up to your final project costs.
Are you still performing your takeoffs manually? If so, you probably spend more time shuffling through papers and plans than putting together your estimates and bids. Chances are you aren’t alone. While construction takeoff software has been around for decades, there are still many in the industry who perform their material takeoffs and estimates by hand.
Here’s the scenario, you’ve spent the past two weeks studying the plans and specifications for a commercial construction project. You’ve attended the mandatory pre-bid conference, done all your takeoffs, gotten all your subcontractor and supplier pricing lined up and you’ve checked and double-checked your figures and finally, you seal everything up to be submitted.
Over the past decade, the world of construction technology has evolved at a breakneck pace. Not long ago, estimators were still calculating numbers by hand and performing 2D takeoffs on pieces of paper. Today, not only are these processes automated but they can even be performed all under the same roof if one wishes.
Construction is a tricky business. Especially, when it comes to the initial stages of the project lifecycle such as estimating and bidding process, contractors are often found struggling with inefficiencies. Though it is very natural with construction projects that involve a large number of tasks, it is significantly important to manage all the resources and funds wisely to ensure maximum profits and cash flow.
Whether you’re a roofing or concrete contractor, your bidding process likely involves lots of moving parts. While you may already be using a digital takeoff tool to eliminate paper blueprints, your estimating workflow may still include a mixed bag of supplier and vendor spreadsheets. Inevitably, this can make bid day a mad scramble—especially if you’re juggling last-minute addenda and change orders.