Construction takeoff is a necessary step toward estimating costs in a construction project. Contractors and project managers use blueprints to calculate the quantity and measure of materials and supplies needed for the project. That information is then used in cost estimates, project proposals, and supply order forms.
However, the process of generating the takeoff data—pulling this detailed information from project plans—can be a very time-consuming process for contractors. Traditionally, contractors have done this by hand using printed plans, rulers, calculators, and pencils. Fortunately for the modern contractor, companies have created takeoff software to simplify and improve this process.
This guide will cover the products that contractors and tradesmen can use to speed up and optimize the takeoff process. Starting with an overview of the takeoff process, we will cover all the ways this technology can help the process and show the best products in the market for each purpose.
If you’re already knowledgeable and just want to see the top products, here’s a short list of our picks for the best construction takeoff software:
|Best For||Best Overall + Best Free||Best for Electrical Estimating||Most Popular|
|Learn More||Free Account Watch Demo||Free Trial Watch Demo||Get Price Watch Demo|
Understanding Construction Takeoff
Performing takeoff is just one step of many in the construction project bidding process. To appreciate all of the intricacies of performing takeoff, it helps to first understand where it fits into the bidding process.
The Bidding Process
Before a large construction project ever breaks ground, there is an enormous amount of planning that goes into it. Typically, a project sponsor or business owner will work with a team of engineers, architects, and designers to create blueprints for their building or infrastructure project. Once the plans have been finalized, the project owner must find contractors to actually build out the designs, and at a fair price too. This is where the bidding process begins.
The project owner, which may be a business, state government, or federal agency, will typically compile a group of documents, known as the bid package, which summarizes the project details. It will include project blueprints and other key information about the project’s location and scheduling requirements. This bid package is sent to a number of contractors or, for government-sponsored projects, posted publicly, and made accessible to any contractor.
Any contractor who would like to work on the project must submit a detailed summary of required materials, labor costs, and schedules to the project sponsor by the bid date. This detailed cost and scheduling summary is often called a bid, or project proposal.
In the majority of cases, the contractors with the most competitive bids that meet the project’s requirements will earn the work. For government-sponsored projects, the most competitive bid is required to win the project by law.
So there is an incentive for contractors to create estimates that are as accurate as possible. Contractors that confidently understand material and labor costs can create more competitive project proposals and still generate profit on projects. But creating detailed and accurate cost estimates with material requirements is a time-consuming and difficult task. How can contractors quickly and accurately generate such detailed information from project blueprints?
In order to generate accurate estimates, contractors must pull or take off quantity and material information from the project’s blueprints. Let’s learn more about this process.
What is Construction Takeoff?
In construction, takeoff, sometimes called quantity takeoff or material takeoff, refers to the counts and measures of materials and labor required for a construction project.
The takeoff process involves contractors and estimators reviewing project blueprints and literally “taking off” or extracting the quantity and material requirements for the project. This information about the required materials and supplies is then used to estimate costs used in the project bid.
In order to extract these details from the project’s plans and blueprints, contractors must reference the plan’s measurements and annotations and then use those numbers to calculate the different quantities of various supplies and materials. Examples of takeoff items include:
- Counts of studs, joints, light fixtures, or beams
- Lengths of cable, wiring, trim, piping, or rebar
- Areas of flooring, grass, or drywall
- Volumes of landscaping material like dirt, sand, and rocks
Traditionally, taking this information out of project blueprints has been done by hand using rulers, pencils, and calculators. As you can imagine, this process can be very tedious and difficult to do accurately.
In the last 20 years, digitizers have helped estimators speed up and improve accuracy of the takeoff process. An example of a blueprint digitizer is a handheld pen-like tool that tracks lengths as you drag it across blueprints to help more accurately measure lengths.
These tools have been handy and helpful for contractors over the last couple of decades, but more recently, computer technology is helping to turn the process entirely digital, further improving speed and accuracy.
Interested in Estimating Software Instead?
|Best For||Best Overall||Estimating & Takeoff||Small Contractors|
|Learn More||Get Price Watch Demo||Free Account Watch Demo||Get Price Watch Demo|
Construction Takeoff Software & Features
Gone are the days that a contractor must manually comb through paper prints to generate a list of materials one-by-one. Takeoff software exists specifically to help estimators through this time-consuming and tedious process.
What Is Construction Takeoff Software?
Construction takeoff software refers to computer programs that aid users in extracting material counts and estimates from digital blueprints. Takeoff software often comes equipped with features to generate cost and labor estimates as well.
Takeoff software typically references digital formats of the blueprints. Typically, the software will support most of the common file types for blueprints, which include SVG, DXF, DWG, and even PDF or image files.
With the digital versions of blueprints, estimators can then point, click, and drag information off of the project plans, rather than manually measuring and calculating values—a method that is prone to error.
The specific workflows and methods used to pull this information from the prints will depend on the software provider.
Construction Takeoff Features
Software developed by different providers will use varying workflows, but most offer a similar set of features. Here, we cover some of the key features that takeoff tools can offer to speed up and improve accuracy of the takeoff process for contractors and subcontractors. The features are categorized by which aspect of the takeoff process they improve.
Quantity Takeoff Features
- Counts – Virtually all takeoff tools should give the ability for users to count items on the digitized plans, usually with point-click methods.
- Auto-count – More advanced takeoff software can use optical character recognition to automatically count how many times a specific item or figure appears in the plans.
- Linear Measurement – Basically every takeoff tool on the market will allow users to identify and measure linear components on the plans, to pull the necessary lengths of various materials. This could be piping, wiring, trim, or any number of materials that are measured in units of length.
- Area Measurement – Another basic feature of takeoff software is area measurement, which will allow estimators to identify or draw an enclosed figure to determine its area, and then the necessary amount of that material. This could be necessary square footage of drywall, tiling, or windows.
- Volume Measurement – Most tools will also give users the ability to calculate volumes from project plans, though this is slightly more advanced than linear and area measurements, since it is not always visually represented on 2D plans, but indicated in annotations and notes. Still, this is a fairly common feature.
- Advanced Volume and Surface Measurements – More advanced volume calculations require the ability to indicate variations in the shape of surfaces that bound the volume. Many tools will not address this issue, but require estimators to approximate with flat surfaces. For contractors that rarely do earthwork or concrete, this may not be an issue. Put professionals in trades who often work with materials in volumes may want to seek this feature out specifically.
- Predefined Assemblies – In general, many components of the structure within a project are assemblies of a number of components. A light installation, for instance, may include a fixture, a number of screws, a fitting, and other parts. Some takeoff tools will come with a number of assemblies included, so they can easily be called out on project plans, instead of being defined part-by-part.
- Stored & Custom Assemblies – Predefined assemblies are great, but as a contractor, you may have particular parts / assemblies that you frequently use. Or you may be particular about the configuration. Custom assemblies is a feature that allows users to define their own assemblies to speed up takeoff. Without this, contractors will have to repetitively takeoff each use of the same assembly in the prints.
- Collaborative Takeoff and Editing – This feature will primarily exist with cloud-based takeoff products that are designed for use with large teams. Typically, the takeoff process for a given structure can use materials from multiple subcontractors involved on the project. By allowing them to both use the same digital space to perform takeoff, they can reference each others annotations and callouts, which can help avoid errors in the estimates down the road. This feature can exist in locally installed products if they include technology to sync edits over internet connection.
- RFI Creation – Sometimes during the takeoff process, a contractor or subcontractor may notice some ambiguity, or what may seem like a mistake on the drawings. Being able to quickly put together a request for information (RFI), subcontractors can efficiently ask for more information from the project sponsor, without breaking their workflow. With this feature in the takeoff tool, users can include screenshots and files to submit with the RFI for clarity.
- Plan Overlays – This feature is the ability to create layered takeoff and annotations. For example, you may want to keep different materials on different layers as you perform takeoff on the blueprints. This makes it easier for users to organize their takeoff process.
- Multiple Input Formats – Most takeoff software will allow users to input blueprints using a variety of file types (SVG, DXF, DWG, PDF, JPEG, etc.) and sources of input (CDs, email, portable drives, etc.). But it’s worth confirming that the program supports the file types and methods of input you work with.
- Plan Text Search – Some takeoff products use optical character recognition technology to allow users to search blueprints for text, similar to “Ctrl + F” in a web browser or text editor. This can be hugely helpful when searching for information like counts and descriptions within annotations and callouts.
- Material / Quantity Summary Report – Once takeoff is finished, the majority of tools output the list of materials with counts, lengths, volumes, etc. This is often exportable as a CSV or Excel file, and can sometimes be sent right into estimating and bidding tools that the software integrates with.
There are many other features that takeoff providers might offer to improve the speed and accuracy of the takeoff process; it would be impossible to list them all. But this list is a good representation of the most common time saving takeoff features to look for.
Not all takeoff solutions include estimating capabilities. Many takeoff solutions only address the problems associated with pulling quantity data off of project blueprints. But many products do include estimating capabilities, and some are even complete 2-in-1 takeoff and estimating solutions.
Even though you may only be looking for takeoff software, it’s worth knowing some of the potential features a new solution could provide. These capabilities could bring a significant improvement over your existing estimating process or software. This list contains some of the most useful estimating features that can be found within popular takeoff software:
- Material and Parts Cost Database – It is common for many of the more complete takeoff solutions to include and maintain a database of pricing information for materials based on distributor and location. This is immensely useful for estimators, so that they don’t need to manually look up item or material costs. Even if the user can get better pricing through their personal relationships, they can typically add custom pricing and information to use in conjunction with the included database.
- Excel / Estimating Software Integration – Most businesses and many contractors make use of Excel templates and other software to manage the estimating bidding process. Some takeoff products, like PlanSwift, allow integration with Excel and some third party estimating software, so users can easily pull or send data from other programs.
- Cost / Requirements Calculators – Some products will include useful formulas for electricians and HVAC contractors. As the user performs takeoff, some programs will automatically input values into formulas to help define power, heating, and other requirements.
- Labor Calculations – Sometimes, certain assemblies used within the project will have a known labor commitment associated with them. Some advanced takeoff / estimating tools will include the ability to output the cost of labor for these assemblies.
Complete estimating tools will have these and many other features. These are just some of the most important and relevant estimating features that many takeoff solutions include. For a complete list of estimating software capabilities, refer to our best estimating software guide.
Many takeoff solutions offer features to assist professionals in specific trades. Some trades, like earthwork and landscaping, may require specific features, like 3D takeoff tools. If you do need takeoff for a specific trade, we highly recommend seeking out those features as you assess products. Here are some of the key things to look for as a professional in the following trades:
- Concrete – For concrete contractors, it is helpful when the software can measure volumes of concrete, accurately subtracting volumes of rebar and reinforcement materials. Since concrete work often involves working in volumes, it is helpful if the takeoff tools can calculate accurate volumes for complex shapes. Of course, pre-built assemblies for concrete elements which include rebar are useful as well.
- Electrical – Electrical contractors should be among the most picky when choosing a takeoff solution. Along with determining the lengths of wires, which can be tricky, there are multiple calculations that electrical contractors need to make while performing takeoff to determine power and output requirements, which ultimately determine the materials they need. The best takeoff solutions for electrical work will store those calculations and allow estimators to automatically calculate the requirements for different parts.
- Flooring – Contractors who frequently install flooring can benefit from solutions with optical recognition features. Some of these tools can automatically spot floored, tiled, and carpeted areas on the digital plans, which means the user won’t need to trace the area. This can be a big time-saver.
- Drywall – Drywall contractors can also benefit from the same area-calculating features mentioned for flooring above.
- General Contractors – For general contractors, a robust set of takeoff tools that solve the detailed problems for each trade is very helpful. More helpful, however, are collaboration tools. General contractors frequently need to assemble bids from their subcontractors to create a complete project proposal. Having a takeoff tool that allows contractors to work with their subs in the same environment can help ensure they are on the same page and save significant time. Additionally, general contractors could benefit more than the average professional tradesman from a product that addresses the entire bidding process. Keeping project data within one system can both simplify the workflow and save money in software licensing costs.
- HVAC – Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning contractors need to easily measure room volumes to determine heating requirements, which dictates the materials and parts needed for the project. Software that can do this automatically is a big help to HVAC contractors during takeoff.
- Landscaping & Earthwork – As we’ve mentioned, landscaping and earthwork contractors should find a takeoff product that can accurate measure complex volumes and areas. The ability to simply calculate these tricky values quickly is essential for takeoff in this field.
- Masonry – Similar to concrete work, using assemblies that include rebar and reinforcing materials can save masonry contractors a significant amount of time during takeoff. Additionally, a product database that knows various brick and stone sizes and costs can be helpful too.
- Painting – When an area that needs to be painted is taken off of the plans, it is ideal for the painting contractor if the takeoff tool can accurately calculate the volume of paint, primer, and brushes / supplies needed to accomplish the job.
- Plumbing – Custom assemblies are the key feature that plumbing tradesmen should look for. As you measure lengths of piping, it is helpful if the elbows, tees, and couplers, can automatically be placed and counted based on rules set by the user.
- Roofing – Roofing contractors can benefit from a takeoff solution that accurately counts the number of tiles, roofing nails, and other materials based on the area of the roof. Quick area calculation tools are also helpful here.
Other professional tradesmen in steel, carpentry, and other specialty trades may also benefit from trade-specific features. While we can’t cover them all, contractors should consider any intricacies associated with the takeoff process in their trade and seek features that mitigate those challenges. In general, contractors from every trade can benefit from the following features:
- Prebuilt trade-specific assemblies and / or customizable assemblies
- Integrated material pricing and distributor database
- Automatic labor, time, and cost estimates from takeoff
Lastly, some takeoff products may also be equipped with bidding or project management tools; some may even be integrated components of complete construction management suites. We won’t cover features beyond takeoff and estimating, but know that this software comes in many forms. Several of the products we review below, such as PlanSwift and On Center, offer much more than just takeoff. Explore these and other products to see whether any features outside of takeoff and estimating will help improve the efficiency of your business.
Construction Takeoff Software Cost
Construction takeoff tools are some of the most transparently priced technologies a buyer will research. While broader construction project management solutions may have intricate pricing schemes, takeoff providers will typically charge a flat fee to download the product or a monthly licensing fee for access to online products.
What is the average cost of construction takeoff software?
The average cost of a quality construction takeoff software is $85 per user month for online products and $975 for a download of an on-premise product. Often providers may include additional fees for ongoing updates and technical support.
The exact cost will obviously vary by software provider and the needs of your business, but for the time savings and efficiency these tools provide, these products are a bargain. Reference this table of construction takeoff software pricing:
|Stack||$84-$150 per user per month|
|PlanSwift||$1,195 per download|
|eTakeoff||$950-$1,895 per download|
|BlueBeam||$199-$349 per download|
|PrebuiltML||$30-$60 per user per month|
|Buildee||$58-$69 per user per month|
Free construction takeoff software
Of course, there are also several free products on the market, but they are more limited in their capabilities. Some may restrict the number of projects while others have limited features compared to robust takeoff products. However, depending on your business’ takeoff needs, a free solution could be all you need. Try these free construction takeoff software options if you think a simplified solution would work for you:
#1 Stack Free
- Best for: Best Free Online Takeoff Software
- Platform: Online
- Our Rating: 10/10
- Visit Site >
#2 eTakeoff Basic
- Best for: Best Free Windows Takeoff Software
- Platform: Online
- Our Rating: 9.5/10
- Visit Site >
#3 On Center PlanViewer
- Best for: Runner-up
- Platform: Windows
- Our Rating: 8/10
- Visit Site >
Finding The Best Construction Takeoff Software
When comparing different construction takeoff software options, buyers should consider several factors about the software and the company that develops it before making their choice. Here are the most important things to consider:
Company Reputation and Customer Service
Whether for product training, troubleshooting, or general customer service, it is likely that you or an employee will interact with a representative of the company you buy software from. It’s worth checking in on this company’s reputation with current and past customers. Using third party business review agencies, like the Better Business Bureau and Trust Pilot can help to inform buyers about a business’ reputation.
Accessibility / Deployment
If being able to access your takeoff software on-the-go is important, or if you need it to run on a certain device or computer, then consider the system requirements of the products you review. Some locally installed products require Windows operating systems or won’t be accessible from remote locations.
Product Design / User Experience
It’s always worth getting a trial and exploring a software platform before buying it. Unfortunately, by today’s standards, many programs are out of date and difficult to use. But luckily, most software providers offer free trials of their products. Make sure that you are comfortable with the software’s interface and design and always get a trial or demo when considering an estimating, takeoff, or bidding tool.
Of course, the software should make you and your employees more efficient and effective to be worth any cost. So choosing a product that has the features that solve the specific challenges your business faces. For electricians, consider takeoff tools with specific formulas and assemblies for electrical work. Other specialty contractors, like plumbing and HVAC specialists, can also find takeoff tools equipped specifically for their trade.
Along with the features that the takeoff software includes, it is more important than ever to consider the integrations to third-party software. If your company is attached to a specific project management, bidding, building information modeling (BIM), or estimating tool, the takeoff solution you choose should at least be compatible with the file types and formats of these other tools. Often, these takeoff tools are designed to integrate with other products. Seek products that play nicely with any tools that your company has committed to.
Choosing the right product will actually save or even help generate money for your business. Construction pros shouldn’t overpay for a tool that doesn’t have a big impact on their business; however, sometimes the most powerful tools can be fairly expensive. If a tool seems right, but is above budget, take a hard look at the time savings and increased deal flow that you can expect. Often, companies who upgrade to a new system significantly increase their deal capacity through efficiency and can improve their bottom line. The cost of these tools should be measured relative to the positive impact they have on the business. Keep in mind the significant time savings that takeoff software offers above the manual process.
Takeoff Software for Mac & iPad Users
While many software companies are transitioning their products to the cloud (online), some popular takeoff software solutions have to be installed and run on your computer locally. Furthermore, many of these takeoff software companies only offer a Windows version. So, if you are an Apple user, it’s important to either choose a cloud-based takeoff solution that you can access online using a web browser or make sure the company offers software that’s compatible with your Mac or iPad.
The following popular takeoff software options are either cloud-based or have a Mac version:
- Stack (cloud-based)
- Square Takeoff (cloud-based)
- Countfire (cloud-based)
- Bluebeam (Mac version)
- On Center (cloud-based)
- Buildee (cloud-based)
Best Construction Takeoff Software
Stack Takeoff (Best Overall; Best Free Version)
Stack is a cloud-based construction takeoff and estimating software solution that allows users to quickly measure digital plans during the project estimating process. Stack is one of the most popular takeoff software products on the market. It is designed to work well for all major construction trades, including: general contractors, concrete contractors, home builders, interior finishers, landscape specialists, masons, roofers, and other specialty trades.
Stack has one of the best reputations with their customers of all takeoff and estimating software companies, sporting an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and high scores across all of the major software review sites.
Stack’s remarkable takeoff solution is easy to pick up and fully available online from any PC, Mac, or iPad. Users can upload plans from Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Evernote, or from their local device. Stack also integrates with a number of other products, including popular bidding and BIM tools, like SmartBid and AutoDesk BIM 360.
Stack is also one of the best products for users who value on-the-go access and team collaboration features. As a cloud-based solution, Stack makes it easy to work on projects from any location or device. Stack also provides a centralized hub where teams can work together on projects. All updates and edits are shared with teammates immediately, so there is no need to worry about overwriting another team member’s progress.
Outside of integration and collaboration features, Stack has a full suite of capabilities designed to make the quantity takeoff process more efficient. The software uses powerful automation techniques, like auto-count, area measurement, and volume measurement, to quickly and accurately determine material quantities. Additionally, Stack offers a library of pre-built assemblies and items, reducing the need for repeating complex calculations.
When it comes to organization and reporting, Stack users can:
- Organize projects and pages quickly via the drag and drop interface
- Overlay multiple drawings to quickly identify differences between revised plans
- Save and compare alternate bids
- Quickly search through all plans using Stack’s powerful search feature to find what they’re looking for
- See detailed project cost reports and create custom reports
- Deliver professional, branded reports to clients
There are four different subscription tiers that Stack offers—Free, Plus, Pro, and Enterprise—which vary in the features they include. So, depending on what features are most important to you, you’ll want to make sure they are included in the subscription option you choose.
Each of Stack’s subscription tiers is billed annually on a ‘per-user’ basis. The free version of Stack takes just seconds to get started with. The capabilities are slightly limited compared to the paid versions, but it is an impressive product nonetheless. Stack Free only allows a maximum of two projects per account and only offers access to a given project for seven days. So once you’ve added a new project, you have seven days to complete all of your takeoff tasks within Stack. Of course, you can have unlimited access to your projects by upgrading to any of the paid versions.
Stack Plus is the lowest cost of their paid options at $84 per user per month, billed annually. For a single user, that’s just over $1,000 per year, and for a team of 5, it’s about $5,000 annually. This plan includes all features of the free product, plus unlimited projects and storage, as well as lifetime access to those projects. Stack Plus also comes with free support and other great features like auto-count takeoff, pre-built assemblies, and the ability to print project plans.
Stack Pro includes all features from Stack Plus and then some, and it costs $150 per user per month, billed annually. Pro extends Stack Plus by adding pre-built materials database access, the ability to create custom assemblies and formulas, and to generate material, labor, and equipment cost reports.
Lastly, the Stack Enterprise is designed for estimating teams of 10 or more. Stack Enterprise starts at $5,999 per year per company license and includes all the benefits of Stack Pro/Plus. Additionally, companies who purchase Stack Enterprise have access to on-site training, custom item & assembly services, single sign-on, open API access, and much more.
What Could Be Improved
In general, users are highly satisfied with Stack Takeoff. However, there are a few common areas of feedback among customers:
- Annual renewal costs can be expensive
- There are occasionally wait times to get in touch with customer support
- Especially large projects can cause the software to slowdown
- Stack offers a ton of customizations, but of course, some customers want more
The Final Verdict
Stack scored above or in line with other estimating products in every metric that we review. It’s hard to deny the powerful tools that Stack offers in their product. Furthermore, their transparent and fair pricing is refreshing to see. Stack is an easy choice as Best Overall Construction Takeoff Software. And because they offer nearly all of their key takeoff features in their free product, we also rated them Best Free Construction Takeoff Software.
PlanSwift Takeoff (Most Popular)
PlanSwift is the most popular takeoff solution on the market. PlanSwift’s software includes both takeoff and estimating capabilities, which is enormously convenient for users. Most takeoff solutions can send or export takeoff data to use in separate estimating tools, but PlanSwift offers both technologies in one system.
PlanSwift requires a Windows operating system that is at least Windows 7 or newer, so this product is obviously not an ideal choice for Apple users. While installation and setup are simple, one downside to PlanSwift is that it doesn’t take advantage of cloud technology for collaboration and storage.
The interface is very clean and intuitive, using a similar design and menu system to Microsoft Excel.
PlanSwift offers a strong suite of features, with important tools to import project plans, calculate material and labor totals, and create custom assemblies. They also include many custom features for different construction trades, including specific takeoff tools for general contractors, concrete, drywall, electrical, flooring, framing, decking contractors, HVAC, insulation, landscape, masonry, painting, and plumbing.
PlanSwift offers a free 14-day trial for users to test out the software without commitment. After the trial period, the software is $1,195 to download. Optionally, users can include ongoing software updates and support for $250 per year. Multi-hour training sessions are also available to purchase for a flat one-time cost of $295. All-in-all, the price of this tool is very fair, considering that it only requires a one-time fee to download and have unlimited use.
Product reviews around the web indicate that customer service with PlanSwift is strong, and our interactions with PlanSwift reps showed the same. While we had positive experiences during interactions with PlanSwift representatives, it’s worth reaching out yourself and making sure you’re comfortable with the level of service they provide.
PlanSwift is a great product that can fit the needs of general contractors and tradesmen alike. We recognize PlanSwift as the Most Popular Construction Takeoff Software, and they are a runner-up on our list of the best takeoff solutions.
Bluebeam Revu Takeoff (Best for Mac & iPad)
Bluebeam is an extensive tool designed to assist users throughout the design, takeoff, and bidding processes. Bluebeam is a popular takeoff and bidding software provider with an excellent reputation among its users. Bluebeam’s popularity with its customers has not gone unnoticed as it was recently acquired by a large German software company Nemetschek, which has been in business since 1963.
Bluebeam’s software must be downloaded and installed on the device where it will be used. However, even though the tool requires a local installation, it still can leverage the power of real time collaboration when the user has an internet connection, which is a wonderful feature that Bluebeam offers.
Bluebeam Revu includes a number of features for users to assist in various aspects of the bidding process, including tools for design reviews, QA/QC, takeoffs, document management, drawing management, submittal review, RFI postings, punch process, project handover, and site logistics. Since the tool covers so much territory, the takeoff features that Bluebeam offers are less extensive than other products on this list. However, for users who only need the intermediate-level takeoff functionality, this software may be a great fit.
Whether the user needs it all or not, Bluebeam is sold as one suite that includes all of its many features. Because of this, Bluebeam is more expensive than a takeoff-only tool, but its impressive set of features certainly makes it worth the cost if the user can put them into action.
While the same general feature set is available for every platform, there are some variations in the user experience, the feature set, and interface, so each installation is priced differently and has different system requirements.
Bluebeam Revu Standard must be installed on Windows machines running Windows 7 SP1, 8.1, or 10. Each license costs only a one-time fee of $349. Maintenance and training come at additional fees, but the base price of this tool is extremely fair for all it offers.
The Mac desktop edition of the software costs $199 per download and the iPad app is only $9.99, which are both very reasonable for permanent ownership of the software after download. The Mac and iPad versions of Revu are not as robust as the Windows edition, but they are still very strong tools with all of the essentials. Plus, you can try the Mac product for free to make sure it has all you need.
Most reviews around the web are positive for Bluebeam Revu; however, iPad app users have reported that the app crashes. Running the software on a system with a high amount of RAM, computing power, and storage will help prevent app-crashing.
Bluebeam is a great tool, and with applications designed specifically for Mac and iPad users, they were an obvious choice for Best Construction Takeoff Software for Mac and iPad.
Countfire (Best for Electrical Estimating)
Countfire is an online takeoff software designed specifically for electrical contractors and estimators. The company is based in the UK, and we highly recommend it for UK-based users who need a takeoff solution. The online tool can be accessed from any device that has a web browser.
Countfire offers a free demo and trial to users who aren’t ready to commit before signing on. The product is simple to use, and it makes counting objects in project plans incredibly simple. This 45 second video highlights some of Countfire’s key features that make it so powerful:
The online interface is modern and intuitive. And because the product is browser-based, it works the same on any device. While it is best for electrical estimating and takeoff, it has features that simplify any takeoff process, including linear and area measurements, automatic counting, and auto-count on revised documents. The company also provides dedicated support staff to its customers.
Countfire is our top recommendation for electrical estimators.
On Center Takeoff Software
On Center offers a number of different software products for construction contractors and subcontractors. Their tools help builders of any trade from bid to build, with tools tailored for digital takeoff, estimating / bidding, project management, and field service management. This review focuses specifically on their excellence in takeoff, but interested readers, should learn more about On Center’s estimating and project management software too.
To address takeoff, On Center offers two different solutions: 1) On-Screen Takeoff (OST) and 2) Oasis Takeoff. On-Screen Takeoff is a locally installed version of On Center’s takeoff technology, and it is designed to run on Windows computers running Windows 10 or later. Oasis Takeoff is a cloud takeoff solution that is built on On Center’s Oasis Platform. The Oasis Platform is their cloud platform, which offers a single environment from which contractors can manage all data associated with a construction project. With both local and cloud versions of their software available, On Center gives customers flexibility to choose a product that best fits the mold of their business.
On Center also offers a free tool called PlanViewer, which is a very light-weight version of their takeoff tool. This includes some of the most basic takeoff features, like linear and area measurements. It is also collaborative, so you can share plans and create takeoffs from the same file with your team.
On Center has a strong reputation with their customers, earning them an A rating from the Better Business Bureau. Reviews from On Center’s Facebook page also show that customers find On Center’s products and service to be outstanding.
The software’s interface and user workflow are very clean and easy to follow, even though it is packed with features to improve takeoff. Some of the most useful features include easy-to-use highlight/call-out/annotation tools, revision overlays, quick takeoff for repeating groupings, and a number of predefined and custom assemblies.
On Center’s pricing is not readily available on their website, but reviews and conversations with customers reveal that the cost depends on which version of the tool, the number of users, and whether On Center’s estimating and project management tools will also be licensed. Online discussions also show that On Center is among the more expensive options for takeoff, but it is also one of the best. Industry average pricing is about $85 per user per month for online and $985 for on-premise takeoff solutions, so On Center users should expect to pay more than this, but to also get an exceptional product that saves them tremendous amounts of time and money.
Overall, On Center offers a strong takeoff solution, as well as many other great construction management tools. They are a runner-up on our list of the best construction takeoff solutions.
PrebuiltML is a takeoff solution designed for tradesmen and builders. Specifically, they have tools designed for concrete, roofing, siding, flooring, masonry, and paint contractors, as well as commercial dealers, framers, and builders. The company was founded in 2012 and is one of the smaller companies on this list. Nonetheless, they offer a strong takeoff product, which is why their customers around the web have left them such positive reviews.
PrebuiltML offers two versions of their takeoff product: 1) PrebuiltML PROtrade for professional trade users, and 2) PrebuiltML X for framers, builders, and dealers. Each product runs only on Windows operating systems, so Mac users should look elsewhere.
PROtrade is PrebuiltML’s solution designed for professionals with trade-specific needs. This version of their takeoff technology costs $30 per license per month. The key difference in this version of PrebuiltML is that users are limited to generating only 6 material quantity reports per month. This won’t usually be a constraint for professionals in most trades. PrebuiltML includes preconfigured formulas and advanced 3D takeoff technology that makes it suitable for most trades.
PrebuiltML also offers a version of their technology that they advertise to dealers, builders, and framers, which is known as PrebuiltML X. This version allows for 12+ materials reports, but costs $60 per license per month, or $50 per license per month when you pay for the year in advance. It comes with unlimited support and access to a 50+ million part and materials database full of pricing information by location.
PrebuiltML is a powerful Windows-based takeoff software for professional tradesmen, general contractors, builders, framers, and dealers. We rank them as a runner-up in our top list of construction takeoff software.
Square Takeoff is an online product that automates the takeoff, estimating, and bid management processes. Square Takeoff is great for both residential and commercial construction, and it is robust enough to work for general contractors, plumbers, roofers, and most other specialists.
Square Takeoff, as an online tool, can be accessed from any device that has a web browser, including Mac computers, iPads, and iPhones. Users just need to log in from the Square Takeoff homepage to access their company’s files.
This product has a very modern and intuitive interface, and the company offers plenty of video tutorials for new users. Check out this video to get a quick overview of Square Takeoff’s capabilities:
Square Takeoff isn’t just a takeoff tool, as the name suggests. The product includes an integrated calendar and estimating tools to help users generate accurate estimates and generate winning bids. While it includes a materials database and labor cost estimates, it allows plenty of customization.
Square Takeoff offers a free 14-day trial, allowing users to test out all of the features available to paid users. Once the trial is over, the product costs $387 per quarter per user, or $1,000 per year per user when paid annually. Companies who renew get further discounts on their license. The product is very fairly priced, especially for companies that lock in the long term discounts.
eTakeoff Dimension is a construction takeoff solution flexible enough for use by all trades and general contractors. eTakeoff is a fairly small company, founded in 2003, and they offer a compelling product.
The software is Windows-based, meaning it must be installed on a Windows operating system, specifically Windows 7, 8.1, or 10. So this product isn’t for Mac users, unless they install an emulator on their machine. This also means that data is not synced between the devices of different users. If you share takeoff responsibilities with team members, you must coordinate edits because you cannot edit the same file at the same time.
The interface is not as modern and sleek as other products on the market, but the user experience is quite comfortable and similar to that of Microsoft Excel.
As mentioned above, eTakeoff is designed to meet the needs of basically any construction trade or specialty. Specifically, they make features for ceilings, communications construction, concrete, electrical, flooring, framing / drywall, general contractors, independent estimators, landscaping, masonry, mechanical, painting, plumbing, roofing, rough carpentry, and steel.
eTakeoff has three different versions of its software—Basic (free), Advanced, and Premier—each suited for different needs and budgets.
eTakeoff Basic (the free version) includes many of the software’s key features, including basic takeoff functions and measurements like linear measurements, counts, areas, cutouts, and arcs. You also have the ability to view and print plans with the free product. Really, this tool is designed for the most basic takeoff and for sharing takeoff and plans with team members.
eTakeoff Advanced costs $950 for a download, with an optional $190 annual fee for maintenance and support. eTakeoff Advanced is also a significant upgrade in features. Unlike in the free edition, users can create and save measurements and annotations, as well as organize them in layers or by color.
The most advanced version of the software offered is eTakeoff Premier which costs $1,895 with an optional $380 for annual support and maintenance. This version includes the ability to add custom assemblies, which can significantly speed up the takeoff process for users who frequently work on similar projects. This version also includes more advanced pattern recognition technology for rapidly and automatically performing takeoff.
eTakeoff is a great product, and we recommend it for contractors on a budget who are also Windows users. eTakeoff is a runner-up on our list of top construction takeoff software.
Buildee is an extremely young company out of Canada, founded in 2018. While they don’t have a long track record to base a reputation on, the estimating and takeoff software is some of the most intuitive and aesthetically appealing on the market.
Buildee is an online takeoff and estimating software that takes just a few seconds to sign up for and start using. Because the product is all online, it works on any device, Windows or Mac, desktop or tablet.
The user experience of Buildee is actually our favorite of all takeoff tools that we were able to test. Its interface is very modern, simple, and incredibly intuitive. The entire process from sign up to estimating is smooth and clear. The controls are intuitive, yet powerful.
The software allows users to upload files directly from their computer in a number of different formats and begin takeoff in seconds. As users perform and update takeoff information, data is automatically sent into the estimate generator, saving users significant time.
Buildee lets users manage their first project for free, which is awesome for anyone who just wants to sample the product without committing or even sharing their info with sales staff. The free trial includes all features from both takeoff and estimating modules of the software.
Users who are satisfied after their trial can sign up for $69 per license per month, or a total of $58 per license per month for users who purchase one year at a time. The paid plan includes an unlimited amount of projects and storage.
With such an impressive product after such a short time in business, we have high hopes for the future of this product and company. While Buildee is young, the product is top-notch and fairly priced. We can confidently recommend this product and expect them to take significant market share in the coming years. We rated them as a runner-up in our list of the top construction takeoff software.