Take off in construction estimating

How to Master the Take-off In Construction Estimating

What is material take-off in construction?

Picture yourself as a detective, but instead of solving mysteries, you’re cracking the code of big, detailed drawings called blueprints. These blueprints are like treasure maps, holding the secrets to how much stuff—like bricks, pipes, and beams—is needed to bring a cool building to life.

So, you grab your detective gear (imagination required!) and zoom into these blueprints. It’s a bit like playing detective—except instead of finding clues, you’re counting and measuring things. Every line and shape is like a clue that helps you figure out how many materials are needed.

Why is this detective work so important? Well, think of it as making a special shopping list for a huge construction project. You don’t want to buy too much or too little—just the right amount of everything. This detective work, called a construction takeoff, helps builders know exactly what to get so they can build without any hiccups.

It’s not just about doing maths; it’s like being an expert puzzle solver, making sure all the pieces fit perfectly together. This way, when the construction crew starts working, they have everything they need—no missing parts, no extra stuff lying around.

In the end, doing a construction takeoff is like being a superhero, setting the stage for an awesome building project. It’s the first step in making sure the builders have everything they need to create something incredible!

In this post, we’ll go over the basics of how to do material take off, such as what it is and how to perform it correctly.

Why Are Takeoffs Essential for Commercial Construction Projects?

Construction takeoffs are crucial for large construction projects, as they help determine the exact amount of materials needed for each project. These takeoffs are essential for making smart financial decisions, as they help in planning your money correctly and ensuring you don’t end up with extra materials. They also help in determining the amount of money needed for the job.

Construction takeoffs are like a GPS for big building projects, helping you stay on track, save money, and show your reliability and care. They are not just about doing the maths; they’re about proving you’re a pro at what you do. 

In essence, Takeoff In Construction Estimating is like the GPS for big building projects, helping you stay on track, save money, and show everyone you’re a pro at what you do. They’re not just important, but they’re the key to getting those big jobs done right.

How to do a material take off accurately

Let’s delve into the significance and components of the takeoff process in estimating construction materials.

The takeoff, also known as material takeoff (MTO), holds a pivotal role in estimating. For smaller projects, an experienced builder might mentally estimate materials, but major construction ventures demand a more systematic approach for accuracy. A meticulous takeoff not only provides precise estimates for both you and your client but also ensures smooth operations on-site by guaranteeing your workers have everything necessary.

However, it’s essential to understand how to do a material take off. While a detailed takeoff enhances estimates, there are other cost elements to consider. These comprise office overheads, market fluctuations in material prices, and various additional expenses.

What exactly needs counting during a takeoff? 

Essentially, it involves quantifying every material essential for completing the project—excluding tools and equipment but encompassing all physical materials required. This spans from raw elements like concrete, timber, and sand to prefabricated materials such as bricks, electrical cables, plumbing pipes, and light fixtures. Moreover, the MTO should detail the specific type or grade of materials, like specifying the steel grade or electrical cable type.

Different contractors might have diverse takeoff needs based on their specialty. For instance, a roofing specialist’s materials differ from those of a concrete contractor, yet the fundamental principles of the takeoff process remain the same.

In essence, a comprehensive takeoff acts as the roadmap, accurately plotting out the materials needed for construction. It’s not just about counting; it’s about ensuring precision, minimising surprises, and facilitating a seamless construction journey for all involved parties.

In most construction projects, four types of measurements are necessary for takeoff.


  • Counting is crucial for specific items like light fixtures or studs required for construction. It’s about tallying up individual pieces needed to complete the project accurately.


  • Measuring by length is essential for items such as cables and pipes. Understanding dimensions like diameter is crucial, and additional considerations like allowances for switches, receptacles, or panels in electrical cables are important for accurate measurements.


  • Surface area measurements come into play for materials like flooring, cladding, or estimating paint quantities for a structure. It’s about determining the space these materials will cover.


  • Volume measurements are necessary for materials like asphalt or concrete needed for the project. For instance, understanding the amount of concrete required for laying a foundation or the asphalt quantity per yard is critical in estimating.

Different types of measurements are used in the takeoff process, each serving a specific purpose. 

Counting provides a precise number of items needed, while length measurements focus on linear elements like pipes and cables. Area measurements cover the space materials will cover, and volume measurements estimate the amount of material required for bulk items like concrete or asphalt. Mastering these measurements is crucial for creating detailed takeoffs, contributing to the success and efficiency of construction endeavours.

Let’s consider an example. In a house project, the first step is to list out the necessary materials, such as lumber, concrete, drywall, and flooring. The amount of each material needed is determined using a blueprint and maths. For instance, a tile project requires 1,200 square feet of tile flooring. The final element is the costs, calculated by multiplying the number of units by the supplier’s cost per unit. For instance, if the supplier charges 6 dollars per square of tile, the total cost is 7,200 dollars. This process helps in determining the most cost-effective materials for a construction project.

Disclaimer: The example provided is a simplified version of a takeoff, excluding materials, and may include labour and equipment costs depending on the software used.

How to Speed Up Your Workflow: The Benefits of a Digital Takeoff Process

Going digital with your takeoff process comes with several advantages:

  • Speed: Digital takeoffs can be up to 10 times faster than manual methods, saving time and increasing efficiency.
  • Easy Access: Digital storage allows quick and convenient access to plans and documents from anywhere, at any time.
  • Collaboration: Simplified collaboration among team members becomes possible, enabling seamless sharing and working from multiple devices or locations.
  • Reduced Errors: By minimising manual data entry and rework, digital takeoffs enhance accuracy in measurements, reducing the chances of errors.
  • Historical Data Access: Easy retrieval of historical data aids in project review, forecasting, and performance evaluation.

Digital takeoff tools enhance speed, accuracy, and efficiency by enabling detailed supplier material lists, customizable libraries, and insights into team performance and project schedules. This streamlines operations, improves accuracy, and facilitates informed decision-making for successful project bids and long-term planning.

These tips on figuring out the Material Takeoff (MTO) can help you start your project. Making a good estimate is super important in construction, so following these ideas will save you money when starting your new building.

Leave a Reply :

* Your email address will not be published.