In this fast-paced video, I’ll reveal the Four “Secrets” to a great roofing takeoff that seem incredibly obvious once you hear them, and chances are … you’re doing none. That’s not a dig. It took me years to figure them out. Then another four years turning it into one simple process that delivers consistently accurate and highly organized shingle roofing bids and takeoffs. Takeoffs that actually work in the field.
After watching this quick 7-minute video, then taking action, you’ll have what it takes to:
I look forward to hearing your results.
John Salmons, “Your Neighborhood Estimator”
When I first started doing takeoffs, my estimator’s toolset included a scale, a neon yellow highlighter, a stack of graph paper and my TI-30 calculator. This was back in 1983. I estimated everything from concrete to roofing with just these tools.
In 1985, I bought a Mac and Microsoft Multiplan (the original version of Excel). Armed with my new computer and software, I transferred all the equations that I kept in my head into spreadsheet formulas. At that point, I no longer had to remember how to calculate drywall mud, roofing nails, etc., I just had to enter the key measurements into a spreadsheet and out came the correct quantity.
In 1996, I bought my first Building Information Modeling (BIM) software so that I could provide framing layouts along with my takeoffs. The real beauty of BIM is when you draw something onscreen, it is automatically and accurately quantified, as well. I soon found myself drawing more and more things onscreen in addition to the framing, just for the...
For me, it’s PlanSwift, VisionREZ and Microsoft Excel. Out-of-the-box, all three are generic toolsets that can be customized to estimate just about anything. Mine are tooled for material and labor takeoffs for residential construction.
PlanSwift is the newcomer to my toolbox. I’ve been using it for the past 4 or 5 years to estimate just about everything in a home (other than the structural framing lumber). It’s also great for lumber takeoffs, but I’ll talk more about this in the next paragraph. PlanSwift allows me to import architectural plans, aerial photography (basically any image file) and then quantify building materials by tracing it on-screen. It’s incredibly easy to customize this software to quantify anything you throw at it, and the takeoffs can be exported to Excel. The really cool thing about this software is that it’s allowed me to retire my scale and highlighters, for good. If you estimate anything, it’s definitely worth...
Would your fire your estimators, retrain them, or strongly encourage them to go to work for your competition? Here’s two houses, both built by the same builder, and even both on the same block:
I count 81 extra bundles of roofing on the first and 78 extra on the second. Now, I’m certainly not here to blast estimators. Especially, since I’ve been doing takeoffs on residential construction projects since the 80’s, and definitely had my share of takeoff errors. When I was first starting out, I didn’t have a feel (or even a clue) for spotting numbers that were way out of whack. These two homes each have around 26 or 27 squares of roofing left over on what looks like 45 square roofs. So, wouldn’t you think that a takeoff with 70+ squares would jump out at someone in the chain?
Maybe this is not even an estimator error. Perhaps it could be a process error, a clerical error, or things just got whacked in the options or option-overlap takeoffs....
Just about every quality framing plan I’ve seen tags the lengths of the headers, ceiling joists and rafters to the nearest 1′ increment. This is a great guide for both the estimator and the framer. If however, the estimator is quantifying all the 4′ members to be cut from a 2x6x12, and the framer is actually cutting these from a 2x6x8 or 2x6x16, then this will obviously result in a substantial takeoff error.
This schedule is based on the lowest common denominator for typical lumber lengths: 5’ members are estimated and cut from 10’ boards; 7’ members are estimated and cut from 14’ boards; and, 1’, 2’, 3’, 4’, 6’ members are estimated and cut from 12’ boards. All other tagged member lengths, such as 8’, 10’, 12’, 14’, 16’, 18’ etc. are estimated as their nominal length.
I believe that any communication tool that aligns the estimator with the tradesmen will result in a cleaner, more profitable project.