Quantity Takeoff Services

What is a Material Take Off in Construction?

Material take off (MTO) is a term used in engineering and construction, and refers to a list of materials with quantities and types (such as specific grades of steel) that are required to build a designed structure or item. This list is generated by analysis of a blueprint or other design document.

In construction, a “takeoff” is the process of determining how much of each material is needed to complete a job. It is also sometimes called a quantity takeoff or material takeoff and sometimes you’ll see it hyphenated as “take-off”.

What are construction takeoffs used for?

Now that you know what a takeoff is, let’s talk about what they are used for.  Construction takeoffs are done for many reasons including, to submit a bid for a job, to create an estimate for a job, or to simply determine how much of each material to buy.  Let’s take a quick look at each of these scenarios…

• Submitting a bid – When you bid on a job, it’s important to know how much of each material you’ll need so you can determine the material costs in your bid.  Without this valuable info, you could under bid the job and lose money or overbid and miss out on the job.  Either one of these is a poor outcome.  Performing an accurate takeoff is an incredibly important factor in whether you win your bid.

• Creating an estimate – Part of creating an estimate is knowing how much material you’ll need.  You could just give it your best guess or perform a takeoff and get a lot more accurate information.  Once you know how much material you need, you can price everything, add in your labor hours, tax, waste percentage, and other costs to complete your estimate.

• Figuring out how much material to buy – Even if you aren’t submitting a bid or developing an in-depth estimate, you’ll still need to know how much material to buy.  Under-buying is no fun because it causes jobsite delays and extra trips to buy more materials.  Over-buying is even worse because it cuts into your profit (and that’s something no one likes)!

As you can see, there are many reasons why you might want to do a takeoff in construction.  In fact, if you’re working off of blueprints, there’s really no reason why you wouldn’t need to perform a takeoff.  Without one, you’re sure to either buy too much or too little material.

Tools Required to Perform a Construction Takeoff 

  • Manual Construction Takeoff with Printed Plans
    • Construction Project Drawings Printed to Scale
    • Highlighters and/or Color Pencils
    • Hand Tallying Tool
    • Digital Scale Master or Engineering Rulers
    • Quantity Takeoff Form
  • Construction Takeoff with Digital Plans
    • Drawings in PDF Format or Image Format
    • Computer, Laptop, or Tablet
    • Excel or Integrated Estimating Module

Benefits of using takeoff software

Construction takeoff software, like Real Estimate Services, provides many benefits for builders, cost estimators and project managers. 


Digital takeoffs improve the accuracy of project estimates by clearly marking areas that have been counted or measured. This ensures that there is no double counting or missed items during the takeoff. 


Instead of taking hours to print drawings and measure them by hand, takeoff software makes measuring easy. It quickly determines the area or length of material needed based on the scale shown on the drawings.  

Standardized costs 

By linking material items directly to their costs within the software, cost calculations can be performed quickly, and the data is consistent. Everyone on your team will have the same database of costs for every project, so everyone’s working from the same data. 

Less expensive 

Using takeoff software saves on overhead expenses. You can bid more work because it takes less time to bid each project. This added productivity leads to more work, which can lead to more profits. 

Seamless data transfer 

When your takeoff software is integrated with your construction estimating software and project management system, the data can be transferred quickly and easily from takeoff to estimate, then a proposal, and on to job costing if the project gets the go-ahead. Integrating data leads to less errors and saves your team time.