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architectural drawings
construction estimator
spread sheet
Computer Aided Quantity Take Off Program Is It Worth The Money
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Today we will discuss the most time consuming part for the building construction estimator. That is the materials take off. This is how you determine the cost of the project by how much materials you need to do the job, also what should be figured for waste.

When I first started in construction the building cost estimator used the dimensions of the building that were given to him on the architectural drawings to figure the quantities of materials needed for each item or had to scale the drawings with a scale ruler to determine materials needed. This was done manually putting each item needed on a paper spread sheet in order based on the specification sections. Then you would calculate how much of that material was needed mathematically. Yes that is right you actually had to multiply, divide and subtract manually. This would take many hours and probably weeks to do the material take off on a small job and if you did not mark up the drawing to remember what you did then you could make a mistake.

With the advent of computers the estimating program helped you with the final estimate once all the quantities where taken off because there was no computer aided take-off program available, so you still had to know what quantities you needed to do the job.

Most companies put together blocks, this was calculated from what it cost them to do jobs that they had finished. The contractors calculated the blocks at the close out of the job when all the final costs where calculation for the job.

Let’s say you had doors to put in and you bought 100 doors at 900 dollars a piece and you totaled up all the labor to install the doors from the time sheets the men sent in which lets say was 500 hours then you know that it took 5 hours for each door to install it between unloading moving getting the hardware fitting and hanging the doors. Now you have your raw costs. You find that the hourly rate for the crafts person is say 40 dollars you multiply that by 5 hours gives you 200 dollars. The block for a door and frame for the job was 1100 dollars to hang one door on this job. This was done every time you did a job to make sure the cost for the same kind of door was the same adjusting for cost increases for labor and materials every time you used the block

Many years ago the computer industry came out with programs that can help you with the take-off, but they were unbelievably expensive they started at 25,000 dollars for the full take-off and estimating program along with the cost tracking.

Recently the programs have come way down so the even the small constructors can afford to purchase them. It may not be all in one but you can purchase 3 separate ones that can be integrated into a total program of computer aided-take off, computer aided estimating and computer aided cost tracking.

The computer aided take off program works using the architectural drawing or pictures the project that you want to do a take-off for. The building construction estimator downloads the pictures of buildings, or a PDF of the Architectural drawings into the Computer aided take-off program. Then one known measurement on the Architectural drawing going horizontally and vertically on the page are needed, so that you can enter those measurements into the take-off program matching what they are on the PDF or Picture. This coordinates the Take-off program with the PDF of the drawing. In the case of a picture you have to take measurements of the building you took the pictures of so that you can use that as known measurement to enter into the computer aided take-off program horizontally and vertically. That coordinates numeric values of the whole PDF page or the picture the with the computer aided take-off program.

Today the building construction estimator using computer aided take-off software can do a estimate for a job in 25% the time it took his predecessor to do a building construction estimate. It has been my experience as a supervisor, contractor, and building construction estimator that over the past 10 years there has been an explosion of computer aided take-off software on the market that is reasonably priced, so that any small contractor or an independent building cost estimator who is computer literate can produce a good bid and record time if he is also proficient in the field work in the construction trades. The reason I say that it is better for the building construction estimator to have field experience, because I have found that some computer software have problems that I have caught by having field experience and adjusted the takeoff so that the proper quantity was reflected in the bid.

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