Double Checking our Takeoffs

So that big takeoff is done and we feel good.  We have plenty of time for pricing, changes and RFI’s before the bid or material order has to be submitted.  But in the end, all this work can dull in meaning not because of all the items and materials we found but because of what we left on the table.  Let’s face it – the fact that we found, verified and added 400 30’ floor joists to the takeoff is good, but if the 800 hangers that go along with them are missed, that is what will be remembered.

So how can we best ensure that we have minimized the missed items on our takeoffs?  Start with this: everyone makes mistakes.   Our post-takeoff job is to find and correct these before they make it out the door.  But how can we catch as much as possible without re-hashing the entire takeoff?

There is no easy answer, but there are things we can do to make our takeoff better.  Notes are a huge factor – jotting down the requirements for Joist Hangers will remind us we need them, keeping notes on related takeoff items as we go (Adhesive, Vapor Barrier, Caulking and such – the minor things that come back to bite us) – are a big help.  Keeping a change log and an RFI book works for us, weather it is written or electronic.  If you are using software for takeoffs, utilize any double check features that are available.  Computers aren’t magic, they only know what we tell them – but once we put the information in, they won’t forget (as long as we stay away from the “Delete” key).  Another method is to swap out who does the checking.  If there is another person available have them review your work and you review theirs.  Another set of eyes never hurts.

The single biggest thing, though, is timing.  If the bid is due Wednesday at 3:45 and it is completed the at 3:30 there will be no time to review and correct.  Here are some things we can do to try and wring more time out of our day:

  1. Organization.  We hear it all the time but finding ways to organize does not come easy to some of us.  We set up a nice note system, a couple of electronic logs and then totally forget to use them.  There is one Contractor that is totally sticky note based.  Walk into his office and it was a rainbow of different colored sticky notes.  It would have driven the average person crazy but it worked great for him, so find what works and run with it.
  2. Managing acquiring the prints, sending out RFI’s, getting return documentation on everything from RFI’s to subcontractor bids and Addendums can help.  Keep good records on what has been requested and what has been answered.
  3. If things become overloaded, look into a takeoff software solution or a takeoff service.  Sure, they cost money, but an increase in submitted bids and a decrease of leaving items on the table will pay those bills pretty quick.

So, think about what is needed and make changes to accomplish it.  We are all different and general methods are easy to see but the best solution is the one that will be actually used.

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