March 18

What is Construction Takeoff Software and How Does it Work?

What is Construction Takeoff Software and How Does it Work?

Matthew Scyoc

What is Construction Takeoff Software and How Does it Work?

Table of contents


The Basis of Takeoff

Features of Good Takeoff Software




Takeoff software programs allow estimating the amount of materials needed for construction work at the beginning of a construction project. They also let you know the cost they will have. In this way, they save a lot of time when compared to traditional extraction methods. 

The Basis of Takeoff Software

Utlizing takeoff software is a necessary step in order to estimate the costs of a project. Contractors and project managers use plans to calculate the quantity and measure of materials and supplies needed for the project. That information is then used in cost estimates, project proposals and supply order forms.

Performing a takeoff is just one step of many in the bidding process of the construction project. To appreciate all the complexities of performing a takeoff, it is useful to first understand where it fits into this process.

Before a large construction project starts, there is a huge amount of planning. Typically, the project owner will work with a team of engineers, architects and designers to create plans for their construction or infrastructure project. Once the plans have been finalized, the project owner must find contractors to build the designs and at a fair price as well. 

Any contractor who wishes to work on the project must submit a detailed summary of the required materials, labor costs and schedules to the owner. This detailed summary of costs and programming is often called a project offer or proposal.

In most cases, contractors with the most competitive offers that meet the project requirements get the project. Therefore, there is an incentive for contractors to create estimates as accurate as possible. Contractors who understand the costs of materials and labor with confidence can create more competitive project proposals and still generate project gains. 

But creating detailed and accurate cost estimates with material requirements is a difficult and time-consuming task. 

To generate accurate estimates, contractors must extract information on the amount of material from the project plans. 

Also, to obtain these details of the project plans, contractors should refer to the measures and annotations of the plan and then use those numbers to calculate the different quantities of various supplies and materials. 

However, digitization has helped estimators accelerate and improve the accuracy of the construction takeoff process. An example of a plan digitizer is a tool similar to a portable pen that tracks lengths as you drag them across the planes to help measure lengths more accurately.

Features of a Good Takeoff Software

When comparing different construction takeoff software options, buyers should consider several different factors about the application and the company that develops them before making a choice. These are the most important things to keep in mind:

Reputation of the company and customer service

Whether it is the ease of use of these products, problem solving or customer service in general, you are likely to interact with a company representative to which you buy the software. It is worth checking the reputation of this company with current and former customers. The use of third-party business review agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau and Trust Pilot, can help inform you about a company’s reputation.


Whether it is important to access the takeoff software, or if you need it to run on a particular device or computer, consider the system requirements of the products you review. Some products only work on Windows and / or will not be accessible from remote locations.

Product design

It is always worth trying and exploring a software platform before buying it. Unfortunately, according to current standards, many programs are outdated and difficult to use. But fortunately, most software vendors offer free trials of their products. Make sure you are comfortable with the interface and software design. Always start with a test or demonstration when you consider an estimation, takeoff or offer tool.


Of course, the software should make you more efficient and effective to be worth any cost. Therefore, look for a product that has the characteristics that solve your specific challenges. Electricians, for example, should consider takeoff tools with specific formulas and assemblies for electrical work. Other specialized contractors, such as plumbing and HVAC specialists, can also find take-off tools equipped specifically for your sector.


Along with the features that takeoff software includes, it is more important than ever to consider integrations to third-party software. If your company is linked to a specific project management tool, tender, construction information modeling or estimation, the takeoff solution you choose should be at least compatible with the types of files and formats of these other tools. Often, these takeoff tools are designed to integrate with other products. Look for products that work well with any project management tool. 


Construction professionals should not overpay for a tool that does not have a great impact. Even if a tool seems correct, it may be above our budget. Therefore, carefully analyze the time savings and the greatest flow you can expect. Often, companies that upgrade to a new system significantly increase their capacity through efficiency and can improve their results. The cost of these tools should be measured in relation to the positive impact they have on the business. 


Esticom, 2016 [Online] Link:

Proest, 2018 [Online] Link: -is-construction-takeoff-software /

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About the Author

Matthew is owner of He employs a close-knit group of engineers to develop the technical content on the site, but is passionate about everything engineering. Matthew loves the future of 3D modeling and wants to push for more helpful, useful tools for the engineering community. Feel free to reach out to him directly on the Contact page or on LinkedIn!

Matthew Scyoc

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