What is taking off in construction?

What is Taking Off in Construction?

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Taking off is a term that refers to the process of determining how much of each required material is going to be needed to complete a construction project.

It’s a term that’s used frequently in the construction industry, but if you’re new to this world, then I can understand why it may not make much sense to you, which is why I’ve put together the following guide.

When I first started my own construction consultancy, I swore that I would always communicate in Plain English and avoid jargon at all costs, yet even I have to admit there are times when using certain industry terms is just unavoidable.

That’s because phrases like Quantity Take Offs, taking off, bill of quantities, and tendering are all terms that are usually well understood by people who’ve been in the construction industry for some time.

To help you get up to speed then, I’ve outlined everything you could possibly want to know about take-offs in construction.

Here, My Build Estimate’s expert cost consultants offer our take on everything you could possibly need to know about take-offs and measurements.

What Does Taking Off Mean in the Construction Industry?

When we talk about taking off, what we are really talking about is working out how much stuff is needed to complete a project.

Cost estimators use the taking-off process to take stock of all the necessary materials, as well as the required quantities and measurements for each material.  

As such, you might also hear the terms “material take-off” or “quantity take-off.” Don’t worry, all three terms are pretty much the same thing, at least as far as construction cost estimating is concerned.

How Does the Take Off Process work? 

A cost planner goes through the floor plans, drawings, and detailed information you provide, and systematically lists each and every component that will be required to complete a project. 

When I say ‘every,’ I really do mean it. 

From the largest sheet materials to the smallest little screw, everything is accounted for and registered on what’s known as the Taking Off List. 

Depending on the size of the project, this list is then used to create one of two documents:

  1. Bill of Quantities
  2. Schedule of works

I’ll talk more about both of these in more detail below.

What Are Measurements Taken?

Materials featured on the Taking Off List typically include the required measurements, especially on larger projects where every penny counts.

Depending on what the item is, the material could be measured by:

  • Area
  • Length
  • Weight
  • Volume.

Once everything has been accurately measured and double-checked, it is added to a new list which we refer to as a Bill of Quantities.

What is a Bill of Quantities Used For?

A Bill of Quantities is used on larger projects to solicit tenders from suppliers for all the items needed to complete that project. 

Since the Bill of Quantities is issued to all tenderers, it ensures an accurate and fair system, as each one will be bidding based on the same quantities, rather than working out their own quantities directly from drawings and floor plans. 

For smaller projects that don’t need this kind of in-depth tendering process, Taking Off is often used to complete a schedule of materials.

What is a Schedule of Materials?

In a nutshell, this outlines all the materials that are required to complete a project and can be used to calculate quantities, determine at which stage of the project said materials are needed and identify special order items. 

These are often placed on their own schedule, along with a materials list in the build stage, all of which are provided as part of a complete service from your construction estimator. 

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