Takeoffs are an integral part of any landscaping project. When done accurately, a takeoff allows the contractor to give its client a solid idea of the total material costs of the project and enables them to create a detailed budget. Of course, the size and requirements can vary hugely between landscaping projects, so the complexity of the takeoff project will depend on a number of factors.
To help you get the most from the takeoff process, this article will run through everything you need to know about the practice, from starting out, useful tools, and things to watch out for.
What is a Landscaping Takeoff?
If you work in the landscape industry then you probably already know a thing or two about takeoffs. Landscape takeoffs go by many names. Most commonly it is referred to simply as a “take-off”, “landscaping material take-off,” or “landscaping takeoff”. “Takeoff” and “take-off” are used interchangeably.
The purpose of a landscape takeoff is to provide a breakdown of all of the materials and items needed to complete a landscaping project. The estimator will need to quantify each component required to complete the project in order to create a material takeoff.
Takeoffs encompass all of the components you’ll need to complete a project, including mulch, decking, and pavers. Your living materials, like trees and shrubs, should also be included. These materials are quantified and assigned a price which will later be used to calculate a total estimate. The estimator normally creates a quantity list first, then assigns a price to each material.
Accuracy is key to creating an effective takeoff. It is important for estimators to ensure their material take-offs are precise and cover all of the materials that will be required to complete the job. If the initial takeoff is inaccurate or sloppy then you risk sinking the entire project. If insufficient materials are ordered then you risk delaying the project as well as substantial cost overages. Too many or too little materials results in losses for the contractor. A construction takeoff calculates the total material cost for a project, so it is an integral part of the overall profitability of the project.
How are Takeoffs created?
The idea behind a construction takeoff is pretty simple. Each material that is needed to complete a project is itemized and assigned a price. But as with most things in life, this is often easier said than done. Creating a takeoff can be incredibly time-consuming, particularly on bigger projects with lots of different components or oddly shaped areas.
There are two main methods used to create takeoffs: manual takeoffs, and digital takeoffs. Although both work toward the same outcome, the practical steps involved vary substantially.
Manual takeoffs do not use construction cost estimation programs or software which has digital takeoff features. They are completed by hand, with an estimator examining the blueprint and then entering the information into a database. This type of work requires a high level of skill and in-depth knowledge of what is needed.
For manual takeoffs, the estimator follows the engineer’s instructions directly from the blueprint. Of course, this means they must be able to read blueprints. Manual takeoffs require the estimator to be able to perform mathematical calculations, so they must be comfortable with geometry to calculate areas, volumes, or lengths. Typically the estimator must also secure bids from material vendors for the items on the takeoff. Generating the final report requires entering all the gathered data into a database program or reporting software.
Some contractors and subcontractors who have always used manual takeoffs might not see the advantages of switching to digital takeoff software. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. While manual takeoffs can be an effective way of working, there are several disadvantages to this method.
As well as being significantly more time-consuming than creating a digital takeoff, there is a real risk of human error creeping into the process. This might look like missing a material, miscalculating an area, or even reading the blueprint wrong. The mathematics involved in producing a manual takeoff also offers several opportunities for errors, especially on big, time-consuming projects. If an error does occur, fixing it manually can be a lengthy process.
The accuracy and speed of digital takeoff software mean that this method is growing in popularity. Creating a digital takeoff involves the same processes as a manual takeoff, but many of the most complicated steps are automated. This speeds up the process, reduces mistakes, and allows for greater flexibility should something need to be altered.
There is a range of different types of software on the market, and each offers a different set of tools and functions. Generally, the process begins by uploading a scanned copy of the blueprint/design ready for analysis. The estimator can then segment and zone different areas via their tablet or computer, and mark them as mulch areas, sod areas, or plant beds. Trees and shrubs can be included and counted, and paver paths and decking drawn with a mouse or fingertip.
The estimator can then adjust the estimate as needed by increasing or decreasing certain particular materials, to account for waste generated during the construction process. Digital takeoffs can perform calculations embedded in them, eliminating the need for complicated manual calculations.
Digital Takeoff software also allows landscapers to utilize drone and satellite imagery to quickly map out the size and sections of a project.
LandOne Takeoff Software
Our LandOne Takeoff software was created to streamline every stage of the landscape and irrigation installation.
From planning to project management, our intuitive technology is easy to use, lightning-fast, and updates every measurement and estimation in real-time. Thanks to our landscaping takeoff software, it is now easy to calculate your costs and offer your customers an accurate estimate.