Material Take-off Basics: SHIP-able lists

Remember that batch of muffins or sheet cake that you didn’t leave in the oven long enough? It looked good on the outside, but when you sliced it open, it wasn’t actually baked all the way through? “Half-baked” you might call it. Quite literally.

And as that expression has come to be used in other environments outside of the kitchen, so it can be applied to your material takeoff as well. Sad, but true.

In working your estimate, you might have gathered all of the correct measurements, identified the right products, and even applied an appropriate waste factor as you bring your take off to completion.  But at the end of the day, this work does not do anyone any good until all of those numbers roll up into a list of materials that you can actually load onto the truck and take to the job site.

In other words…

If your list is not shippable, then it’s only half-baked. 

What does this look like in the real world? A simple example might be all of the headers that you measured for the first floor window and door openings:

Your collection includes 3’, 5’, 6’ and 7’ 2×10 headers, all in multiple plies, but the problem is that no one stocks lumber that short. If you tell your load builder to go load a 3’ long 2×10 on the truck, he won’t know what to do! Nor should he have to figure it out. All of those short lengths of 2×10 for the headers should have already been rolled up and optimized into the most efficient use of YOUR current stocking lengths to arrive at a clear tally of actual lumber that is in the yard. And not only should you be shipping material lengths that actually work for the job, but you should also be doing it in the most efficient way possible. 

Or take another example: lap siding.  It’s not enough to tell your truck loader to put 900 sf of Hardie on the truck. They need to know how many actual pieces of siding to send.

And we could talk about roofing clips and package sizes, and nails, and so much more, but here is the concluding thought to it all:

If you are doing your take off work correctly, YOU should NOT be calculating any of this by yourself – your takeoff software should be doing it all for you automatically. Sure, auto draw and image searches are great features to have, but if you are not leveraging your software to also handle complex lumber and EWP optimization that can be adjusted on the fly, or specific rake wall stud height calculations, or the ability to set up products with known dimensions that can then be used to auto calculate coverage amounts, then all you are still ending up with is a result that is “half-baked.” Let the software work it for you to arrive at that final list.

As you complete a takeoff, don’t settle for SF, LF, or other non-shippable values.  Heighten the value of your takeoff by taking it to a truly shippable list of materials – the ones you can actually drop at the job site.

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