As you probably know from experience, the manual process of completing a takeoff and estimating a new project from scratch can be very time consuming and frustrating. It’s commonly cited as a contractor’s least favourite aspect of their work.
First you need to get all your documents in order and find the drawings you’ll need to refer to. If you’ve been sent digital copies, it can take a while just to check each file and establish which ones are relevant.
Once you’ve done that, all the drawings need to be printed. If you have the facilities in-house, this can still be costly and take a while to do. Most people don’t have big enough printers in the office, so it’s usually necessary to send the files to a print shop, wait for them to be done and arrange to physically collect them later. This can easily take hours, if not days, and in the meantime your competitors might already be racing ahead of you.
Once you have the drawings, it’s time to clear a large free space on your desk. Collecting all your rulers, pens and other stationery is often a task in itself, and then you’ll have to try and allocate several hours of your time to the task of manually searching the drawings for everything that’s relevant to your trade. It’s also easy to get distracted, especially in a busy office, which slows everything down and increases the likelihood of making mistakes or missing something.
Manual estimating also involves a lot of duplication of work. You’ll be counting everything up, writing it all down, checking all the totals again by hand, and then transferring those figures to your estimate. The chances of making errors are multiplied every time you have to transfer numbers from one sheet to another, so even if you started off with the correct figures, the end result might be inaccurate.