Time Waster #1: Takeoff from paper plans

Published · 2 min read

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how inefficiency can unintentionally become the norm in your construction company.  I also identified ten top time wasters often found in construction firms. During the next few months, starting with this blog post, I’ll delve a bit deeper into these time wasters and how technology can help eliminate them.

Today electronic plans are commonplace. So is software that allows estimators to electronically take off quantities and dimensions directly from those plans. Many contractors, however, still print plans and do the takeoff with a digitizer or manually with scales, rulers, and spreadsheets.

With estimators busier than ever to crank out competitive bids, finding a way to increase estimating efficiency and accuracy is prompting many contractors to approach takeoff differently.  In fact, 38% of contractors are currently using electronic takeoff software* and that number is expected to grow.

Those who have made the change to electronic take off tools often find their productivity increasing significantly, giving them more time to focus on refining their estimates and develop a more competitive bid strategy. Not only is electronic takeoff much faster than traditional methods, it’s more accurate (getting down to measurements within thousandths of an inch). By using electronic takeoff tools to highlight what has already been taken off, estimators also avoid potential mistakes and unforeseen project costs due to omissions.

Linking takeoff and estimating

Additional time can be shaved off by integrating electronic take off tools with construction estimating software. California contractor Seacon Construction did just that and realized an additional 50% reduction in the time to produce their estimates!

The time drain in building an estimate from scratch—one item at a time—is significant. Even if you maintain a number of spreadsheet templates, keeping them up-to-date with pricing and estimate details can be cumbersome.

Many contractors find it much more efficient to populate their estimates using a database that stores all items, pricing, productivity factors, formulas, and other estimating details. Databases that also store groups of items are an extra boost to productivity by allowing estimators to take off all the items of a wall, concrete slab, or other building component in one step.

Experienced estimators top the list of staff in demand these days. Make sure your estimators don’t have to spend their valuable time on time-consuming tasks that could be automated.

For more information about how to eliminate the most common construction time wasters, download our new e-book, Top ten time wasters.

*2015 Construction technology report, JBKnowledge

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