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Imagine designing a project without considering cost along the way, or keeping track of the labour and materials necessary to make your vision a reality. Chances are, your concept won’t make it past the modeling stage. Anyone pursuing engineering training or enrolled in CAD college understands that from conception to construction, accurate quantity take-offs are an essential part of any building endeavor. These estimates determine whether a project is feasible and meets client needs, whether revisions are needed, and the comparative costs of those alternatives.

Accounting for everything from the number of light-fixtures and piping, to the amount of wiring and the work-hours required for installation – quantity take-offs provide detailed estimates throughout a project’s entire lifecycle.

Here are a few of the ways they help stakeholders gather the data they need to actualize complex ventures without straying too far from established budgets:

Effective Cost Tracking

Right from the start, as drafters are preparing preliminary sketches, generating accurate estimates helps support better decision-making and prevents excessive budget overruns. Take-offs help designers stay realistic during early stage planning, counting and quantifying components and determining the cost of specific objects. The initial stages of a project typically have the greatest impact on cost, so it’s imperative that planners execute material takeoffs for key building elements, like floor areas of different types of surface areas of building envelope elements. As the design matures and construction details are accurately modeled, precise quantity takeoffs will help team members anticipate the labor, materials, equipment, and subcontractor costs for all building elements.

Efficient Time Management

Since computer-aided drafter programs often integrate take-off capabilities, engineers can take advantage of their speed and efficiency, spending less time counting and more time costing, accessing risk, and identifying construction assemblies. Takeoff software helps teams perform takeoffs of an entire building information model in just minutes, whereas traditional methods could take days. The program updates estimate automatically, which saves time, eliminates human error, and ensures that takeoffs are always in sync with the latest designs. With such detailed analysis, team members can identify and focus on project elements with the greatest impact on cost – channeling their design and estimating efforts on those pivotal factors, thereby maximizing time, energy, and resources.

Clear Communication

Communication amongst stakeholders throughout all phases of project development is a critical part of any construction venture. Using BIM to generate accurate takeoffs means the entire team can gain access to a dynamic, visual representation of a project’s estimated costs. Clients can see whether or not budgets are being respected, and how alternative design options may offer savings in labour and/or materials. Throughout the project lifecycle, accurate and detailed takeoff models help facilitate informed debate regarding proposed design changes, what-if scenarios, and whether specific enhancements are budget-effective.

What do you consider that most important benefit of accurate take-offs?