Stress-free takeoff: How model-based construction take-off can win bids without the headaches

Every concrete contractor knows that the rapid delivery of impeccably accurate proposals is crucial to winning profitable bids. “I have spent the night at the office because it got too late to go home and I had to be back so early. I used to keep a blanket and a pillow in my truck,” says Andy Dickey, former concrete contractor and current global business development manager for Trimble's Cast in Place concrete business. “It's feast or famine. You have nothing to bid, and all of a sudden you have everything to bid, and all the due dates for the bids are landing on the same day. So you have to get it done.”

Andy’s story highlights the urgent but time-consuming nature of the bidding process in the construction industry. Quantity takeoff (QTO) -- an essential part of the cost estimating – is also one of the most tedious. Thankfully, today’s advanced construction takeoff software allow quantity take-offs to be completed faster, easier, and most importantly, more accurately compared to old ways of working.

Automatically accurate

Let’s face it, QTO that is done manually and even using digital 2D based construction takeoff software is prone to errors – especially when changes come into the picture. The latest advancement in construction takeoff software offers constructible 3D model-based takeoff methods as well as BIM software that is purpose-built to support construction processes. This advancement offers a modern tool for concrete contractors to achieve reliable, more accurate estimates, faster and with fewer mistakes. Quantities are automatically calculated using the spatial information within the model, making manual calculations obsolete.

Estimators are often well-acquainted with paranoia and anxiety, which are inevitable when doing QTO by hand or based on 2D information only. Automatic calculations can put minds at ease and the 3D model as a source for all quantities ensures that nothing is miscalculated or forgotten, making it virtually impossible for human error to leave its mark. One quick glance at the model is all it takes.

The model-based information management solutions make structuring different quantities straightforward and simple using special in-tool features, and by eliminating manual, repetitive tasks mean that time won’t be wasted with cluttered spreadsheets. Changes to model update all quantities automatically, so recalculations and redigitizing won’t suck up valuable resources. What’s more, when the model is a source for all quantities, information is consistent and can be easily visualized to improve communication from one stakeholder to the next, making for a smoother more streamlined project overall.

Of course, the fun doesn’t end with quantity takeoff in preconstruction. Advanced tools can accomplish so much more. For example, when constructible 3D models are quick and easy to create, contractors can instantly spot clashes and errors. Pointing them out just might help to win the bid. With the complete solution, information that is created during the QTO process does not die in preconstruction, but can be used later for pour and formwork planning, scheduling and extraction of detailed quantities for budgets, material ordering and so on, and even on-site, for better coordination and collaboration.

Faster, better, cheaper

Concrete contractors using BIM solutions for quantity takeoff are able to deliver their bids and projects faster and more accurately for less money. This is a crucial advantage in such a competitive industry, and it is only going to become more crucial as more contractors discover just how beneficial 3D-assisted information management can be. Those with the best bids are in the leading position when choosing who wins the project, after all – and happily, thanks to tools like Tekla Structures, sleeping at the office is a thing of the past.

Want to learn more about how you could be using model-based estimating for your stress-free QTO? Check out how you can Estimate, Plan and Manage Pours Better with Tekla's BIM Software 
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