What is takeoff estimating?

Takeoff estimating, or a material takeoff is an integral part of the construction estimating process.

A material takeoff involves estimated counts of material supplies, material costs, labor costs and equipment by itemised prices and also can include a project completion date estimate by computing delivery times and building hours. 

A builder begins the construction takeoff process by assessing the construction site and the designs.  He or she will take into consideration elevations, drainage issues, and natural hazards in the takeoff. This information is then used to estimate costs by measuring and counting materials and deciding on equipment and contractors.  

Most builders and estimators will conduct digital construction takeoffs. Construction takeoff software such as Buildxact has transformed the time-consuming method of manual takeoffs into a more efficient digital process that allows builders to complete their own material takeoffs.

Why is a construction takeoff so important?

Accurate bids win proposals

Construction takeoffs are used to create a cost estimate as part of the bidding process.  Even though the takeoff process can be time-consuming, it is an essential part of any construction project. 

The accuracy of the construction cost estimating during takeoff will determine the profit margin after completion. If the profit margin is sufficient the builder can put a project proposal forward to the client. 

Digital takeoff software tools create a professional project proposal that will increase the chances of winning jobs. Using construction takeoff software provides an accurate estimate that gives confidence to both builder and client that costs will not blow out the budget over the length of the project.

A comprehensive materials list ensures accuracy

Construction takeoffs estimate the raw materials or prefabricated materials required to be ordered and provide certainty that the list of materials is comprehensive and materials are costed precisely. 

Digital takeoff software is used by estimators and builders to automatically produce price estimates and accurately calculate material costs. This is especially important for complex projects.

Accounting for contractors means nothing is missed 

Many jobs require specialized installations. An estimator or builder uses the construction material takeoff process to determine whether a general contractor or many subcontractors are required and can add this to the project proposal.

What’s included in a takeoff estimate?

The construction takeoff process is a list of required materials with cost estimates calculated. An estimator or builder will use digital blueprints to ascertain necessary information about the construction project before beginning the estimate. 

Construction project type

The type of construction project may be a:

  • New house
  • Renovation or remodel
  • Extension

This information will determine types of materials required such as light fixtures, raw materials and any prefabricated components.

Site condition

An estimator or builder will assess the condition of the site to establish the complexity of the construction project. 

Steep blocks or drainage issues can affect price estimates. For example, complex projects may require a different construction takeoff process and extra takeoff data. 

A builder will use this information to decide whether construction projects require a basic takeoff or a more complex estimating process.


Measurements are calculated on square footage or square meterage and are taken for all rooms and outdoor spaces such as decks, patios, and verandahs. 

These measurements are used to computate itemized material counts, equipment and workers.

Construction takeoff tools 

Digital takeoff tools are used to calculate a construction cost estimation. Digital takeoff software is less time-consuming and has higher accuracy than a manual construction takeoff, and its use has become standard in the industry.

Material takeoff

Takeoff software tools can be used to calculate material prices from the individual counts. 

One of the key features of construction takeoff software is the ability to save material prices for use on any estimating takeoff. 

When conducting digital takeoffs, all the materials required and suppliers’ prices are stored within the cloud-based software.  These are automatically linked and calculated per unit. 

If different resources are required, the takeoff software can source material suppliers and automatically send a request for a quote. Market fluctuations in material prices can also be accounted for within the best takeoff software packages that store suppliers’ prices.


Accurate counting, and the timely ordering of materials, is essential to construction industry profits.  All material requirements, including cost of internal fittings, such as light fixtures, need to be counted in the construction takeoff. 

Takeoff process

The manual takeoff

Manual construction takeoffs are being performed less and less.  

Manual takeoffs require a range of tools, data sheets and information that must be collated and then reorganized as a quote for the customer.  Measurements are taken manually from drawings and designs, and calculations are then made to determine how much material is needed, multiplied by costs per unit.  Suppliers then need to be contacted, and materials must be ordered individually.

Disadvantages of a manual takeoff

An estimator or builder conducting a manual construction takeoff will cross-reference

prices from each supplier for all required materials, use manual input and calculation and arrange for quotes for special materials.  A digital construction takeoff, by contrast, will have this information automatically stored, linked and generated by the software.

Benefits of digital takeoff estimating

Digital takeoffs simplify the entire construction takeoff procedure. 

Adopting material takeoff software like Buildxact decreases the takeoff completion time by 80%. All tasks can be generated automatically using just one cloud-based system. 

Digital blueprints can be accessed online, complex calculations performed automatically, and estimates, quotes, project proposals and bids linked.

A key feature of digital material takeoffs compared to manual takeoffs is that the software removes the mundane tasks such as the need to cross-reference spreadsheets, calculate multiple equations, find price lists and prepare time-consuming paperwork and administrative tasks. 

Takeoff software can be used in any location where an internet connection is available.

Added benefits of digital takeoff software

Digital takeoffs tools can be set up to access your own price lists or your supplier’s price lists.  

Information relating to the construction takeoff can be customized to suit your construction project or business. 

Construction takeoff software allows faster production of quotes, and consequently, more jobs can be bid on and accepted by clients. 

Using Buildxact, you can produce a quote five times faster than a manual takeoff. The quote will then be automatically generated from the material takeoff and instantly sent to the customer.

Another feature of digital construction takeoff software like Buildxact is that it allows material quantities to be ordered in advance of job approval. Job schedules can be checked on a mobile phone at the building site, via cloud-based takeoff software such as Buildxact. 

Digital takeoffs contribute directly toward faster project completion, which is a plus for the bottom line.

Digital construction takeoff

Paid versions of construction software provide an excellent suite of features, as well as high levels of security for the construction business.  A monthly fee covers the full service, including local support. 

Construction takeoff software stores all documents in one location so information can be seamlessly and automatically shared across the construction company, improving communication between the project manager and the building team. 

Documents are able to be accessed by all parties on the same software platform and utilized by whoever requires it within the company. 

Digital takeoffs allow easy input of material required, price per square footage and calculation of quantities. 

Once a material takeoff is completed, the digital construction takeoff software allows full visibility and control of each stage of the job. 

Dashboards stay on top of the job, showing the exact point of profit in real-time. 

The construction takeoff software can also be used to send automated SMS alerts and emails to contractors and tradies. 

Buildxact construction takeoff software also makes accounting and bookkeeping easier with finance tasks performed more efficiently and accurately. 

Wages and contractor costs are accurately calculated and Xero or Quickbooks can be linked to the software.

Construction takeoff support 

Buildxact is one of the best construction takeoff software platforms on the market and offers full support. 

With the application of construction takeoff software, a highly accurate estimate can be produced in less time than it takes to manually make a rough estimate. 

Digital construction takeoffs using estimating software allow you to reliably order materials and keep your profit margin strong for all construction projects. 

Book a demo anytime to see for yourself how digital construction takeoffs can improve your business model.