What is a Takeoff in Construction

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Even if you are slightly related to the construction industry, you must have heard the term construction take off some way or the other. It is a bit confusing for many people in the industry where some are aware of its meaning but do not directly use and some use it unconsciously but are not aware of the definition.

We are here taking a dive into the complete subject of construction takeoff to help various estimators, contractors, engineers, company owners, realtors, and other people concerning this term. Continue reading this blog and find an answer to your question – what is a takeoff in construction.

The Definition

While some call it a construction takeoff many people also refer to it as material takeoff, construction take-off, and quantity takeoff. Despite having multiple names, the core meaning is the same and no matter how confusing it may seem.

Construction takeoff is a process where all the material related to the project needs to be calculated precisely with predicted quantity and rates.

In literal meaning, an estimator is supposed to take off all the essential material names from the project layout to find the final costing of resources. It is a very important process and knowingly or unknowingly all the contractors and business owners perform it before executing the project.

The Process Behind the Construction Takeoff

Focusing on the accurate quantity for each material can be a very time consuming process and tiresome as well. Moreover, the precision, deadline, profitability, and statistical effort make this part even more challenging.

An estimator is expected to consider each crucial material that will be required to complete the project such as concrete, bricks, wood, piping, and rebar. He will have to decide the quantity according to the project blueprint and then assign the cost for each component.

Listing all the materials and determining the costing are two different parts. Usually, for convenience and better understanding estimators perform these two activities separately. This same process is used for both large projects and small projects. However, complex projects make it significantly more difficult and stressful.

Here, consultation with engineers, project managers, and architects is a must in order to get complete accuracy. Precision in takeoffs will surely lead to accurate estimates for projects and eventually better financial management and return.

The Difference Between Estimation and Takeoff

estimation vs takeoff

The difference between estimation and takeoff is very clear for those who are somewhat experienced in the construction industry. Although it can be a little hard to distinguish these two terms for people who are still new to this industry.

In simpler terms, takeoff is just a process of taking off the necessary materials required for the project with an estimated quantity. when it is involved in the estimation process, the calculation of cost for each material also takes part.

Whereas, the estimate is an extensive process that determines the overall final cost of the project. With takeoff, the work is done with the quantifying of materials. On the other hand, estimate continues the process and adds other various types of expenses to give a full report on the estimated cost for the entire project.

An estimator will be using takeoff as a single but important part of his comprehensive estimate. Thus, construction material takeoff is a distinct part of the whole estimating process which determines the future of the project.

Various Use of the Takeoff

various use of the takeoff

After understanding the meaning and significance of construction takeoffs, let’s understand where and how they can be used in the industry.

Construction professionals mainly use takeoffs to submit a bid, calculate the estimate and make the purchase decisions.

  • While Submitting a Bid

    A bid is a dealbreaker aspect for any construction business owner. That’s why a strong bid is always desirable to get any potential project.

    Before submitting the bid proper calculation for each element is needed to have a transparent financial breakdown in terms of profit, scope, and risks related to the project. Construction takeoff helps contractors to get the approximate material costs so that they can prepare a substantial bid including their profit margin and other major expenses.

  • For the Estimate

    An accurate estimate is every project’s heart but the construction estimating process can be very challenging and confusing for some common reasons. Takeoff calculation is a valuable aspect to develop the right estimate. With accurate construction takeoff, an estimator can get the accurate costs for the material part. Which is indeed the large proportion of any project.

    So, an accurate estimate will need an accurate takeoff which makes this process highly crucial and helpful.

  • For Purchase Decisions

    As a result of construction takeoff, you get accurate measurements for the materials needed in the final project. Moreover, quantity and average rates used in the takeoff report are also very important information that can support the purchase division.

    Intensive thinking on the material and quantity comes before any monetary decision. Therefore, whenever construction projects require purchasing orders for raw materials, construction professionals use the takeoff process to understand components and make practical purchase decisions.

Importance of Accuracy and Challenges of Construction Takeoff:

importance of accuracy and challenges of construction takeoff

Accuracy in construction takeoff means accuracy in the final estimate and that can lead to perfect money management and reduction of losses. The complicated process proves it very difficult to make an accurate takeoff because of its nature and uncertain aspects.

It is highly important that a construction takeoff is as precise as possible for the best-desired estimate and project execution. All the essential materials are supposed to be quantified well so that calculation of material costs becomes easy and relevant.

There are some common challenges involved in construction takeoff which are:

  • The decision of materials that needs to be included and excluded. This subject can be a little confusing as sometimes it becomes deluded to segregate materials for takeoff and other courses.
  • Determining the quantity as per the project and client. When it comes to calculating the quantity it’s not just about formulas and numbers. An estimator needs to consider all the situational and industrial aspects in order to include possible changes of quantity as well.

What is Included and Excluded in the Takeoff Report:

Basically, construction takeoff includes all the required materials to complete the project. Any project will include a number of materials and expenses, that’s why it’s necessary to have clarity over what to count in the takeoff document and what to leave for the rest of the estimation.

Below are the materials that are most certainly part of your construction takeoff report:

  • Steel
  • Concrete
  • Sand
  • Rebar
  • Wood

Apart from these, calculation of other essential components and prefabricated materials are also part of the takeoff to make the material cost estimate more detailed and helpful. Some of those elements are:

  • Tiles and other flooring materials
  • Pipes
  • Electric cabling for construction operations
  • Light fixtures
  • Secondary industrial supplies to help work process on the site

Things which are excluded:

Understanding things which are excluded for construction takeoff is equally important as knowing all the included things. Overall, there are a number of things that actively take part on the construction site. So, below are the things that are not part of your takeoff report:

  • Labor costs
  • Transportation costs
  • Rentals and equipment charges
  • Recruitment costs
  • Office overheads

As per your project and market you have to figure out which are the core operative materials for a construction takeoff and which are part of the remaining estimate report.

Methods of Doing Construction Takeoffs:

construction takeoffs methods

There are mainly two methods of preparing a construction takeoff:

  • Manual method
  • Digital method
  1. Manual Method:

    This basic and conventional method has been used from the beginning. Contractor or estimator needs to read all the paper blueprints and calculate the material quantity as per the measurements. Manual takeoffs are highly used and reliable in the industry. However, they are time consuming and tedious as well.

    Accuracy can be compromised with manual takeoffs if an estimator is not skilled and experienced. It requires complex mathematical equations and statistical calculations which makes it hard to practice.

  2. Digital Method:

    Digital takeoffs are very easy and reliable as compared to manual ones. Nowadays, there are many takeoff software available in the market. They can prepare the takeoff document within a few simple steps.

    Different tools will have different features. Nevertheless, you will have to just insert your digital blueprints and software will allow you to take measurements for your project. Then, you will get a list of materials which can be adjusted as per your requirements.

    The biggest benefit of digital takeoff software is the easy and quick calculations. Unlike the manual takeoff you don’t have to worry about accuracy as software will be running all the calculations for you.

    Lastly, both are used in the industry for different reasons. Using a digital takeoff tool can be an extra investment for you but it will surely save a lot of time and energy by providing useful features and accurate estimates.

    Frequently Asked Questions
    1. What is a takeoff sheet in construction?

      A construction takeoff is an integral part of construction work as discussed above. In the estimation report, the takeoff sheet is a document that contains a complete list of material and its related quantity that is going to be used in the respective project. It is a very important sheet that determines the major expense part of the project.

    2. What are quantified takeoffs and their significance?

      Quantity takeoffs are developed by an estimator in the pre-planning phase to calculate and count every material and labor cost that’s about to get involved in the project. It is an essential part of the estimation that divides the estimation into smaller segments for better and clear understanding.


    Whether it is a small project or large, construction takeoff is an integral part of the process in order to get closer to the accurate picture of financial estimates. Whenever there is an estimate involved, it becomes crucial to calculate the number of materials to eventually calculate the total cost of the project.

    To minimize the confusion, we have explained the difference between a construction take-off and an estimate in this post. So, do not consider take-off as a replacement for estimation as the final estimate involves many other cost details as well.

    Both manual and digital construction take-offs are used in the industry. However, with the digital one, you get to save a lot of time and energy which can be used in further statistical analysis and planning for the real project. Therefore, using good quality estimating software can definitely help you with this complex process and give you satisfactory solutions.

Author Bio
Jeel Patel
Jeel Patel

Jeel Patel is the Founder of InvoiceOwl and is the main curator & writer of the content found on this site. With ideals of quality, commitment, and perseverance, he believes in creating lasting business relationships with the clients.