Take-Off with Construction: Part 1 (Concepts and Materials)

Take-off or takeoff with construction is a term used to refer to the process of detailing units and costs with a job estimate. Take-off is in essence the work papers supporting the final values for both numerical count and dollar amounts of the respective elements of an estimate. Take-offs are not restricted to just materials; take-off includes a separate set of documents to support labor hours and costs; equipment usage, and other types of costs (debris removal, permits, compliance, jobsite facilities, utilities and safety gear). Each industry within the construction sector of the economy uses their own process to create take-offs. At the individual contractor level, take-offs can be performed with pencil and paper or at the other end of the contractor spectrum, reach the sophisticated level of customized industry software. Every estimator must decide for themselves what they are comfortable with as the tool to create take-offs.

This article is the first of three parts. It will first introduce the reasoning behind take-offs and describe the first of four core groupings of work papers. In addition, organizational structure of how take-offs are performed for each of the respective groupings is explained; in this article, how to organize work papers for materials is explored and explained. Finally, there are some insights to assist estimators with conducting take-offs; little tricks to keep you organized and completing the task at hand. Furthermore, there is a series of articles on this site addressing estimating. It is a 14 part series covering the in-depth issues, processes, formulas and final reports with generating an estimate. 

Introduction to Take-Offs

Estimating has three tenets and many different principles. Tenets are universal, whereas

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