How to do Plumbing Takeoffs?

Discover how AI takeoff software saves your time, cost, and resources with end-to-end automation.
June 20, 2024
Takeoff Software
How to do Plumbing Takeoffs?

Every construction project, from large commercial buildings to lavish mansions, relies on a hidden network that ensures clean water flows in and waste goes out: the plumbing system. Often unnoticed, this network of pipes, valves, and fixtures is more than what meets the eye at the sink. It's a well planned and executed system that requires a lot of designing and planning during the preconstruction stage.

Once the designing and planning in the preconstruction stage are complete, the focus shifts to the next most important step - takeoffs. For plumbing contractors, takeoffs are more than just calculations; they're the foundation for winning the project bid. Inaccurate takeoffs can lead to a domino effect of problems, from underestimated bids to project delays when you get to executing them. This blog post will delve into the details of doing the plumbing take offs, exploring how to achieve accuracy and ultimately, win more plumbing projects.

What is a Plumbing Takeoff?

A plumbing takeoff is a detailed analysis and quantification of the materials needed to build a building's plumbing system. It involves meticulously quantifying every component, from pipes and fittings to fixtures and valves. This information forms the backbone of accurate cost estimates, which in turn helps to ensure project budgets are allocated appropriately and the project remains financially viable from start to finish.  

Why are Plumbing Takeoffs Important?

Accurate plumbing takeoffs serve as the foundation for successfully completing a plumbing project. From residential homes to large commercial structures, the importance of this initial step cannot be overstated. Here are some key reasons why plumbing takeoffs are so crucial for contractors:

Improved Cost Estimates and Budgeting

Plumbing takeoffs serve as the project’s financial roadmap. By quantifying every pipe, fitting, fixture, and valve needed, estimators not only calculate the costs but also get a clear picture of what’s required. This clarity means fewer surprises down the line, fewer unexpected expenses, bids that stand out for their accuracy and competitiveness. 

Streamlines Procurement Process 

Let's face it—ordering materials can be a headache. Ordering more than required can cause budget overruns. Conversely, ordering less than required can cause delays and risk of project schedule off track. A thorough plumbing takeoff helps streamline the procurement process as you can order the exact materials you need, when you need them, eliminating waste and optimizing the procurement process.

Enhanced Project Planning and Scheduling

When it comes to construction, time is money. That's why having a clear understanding of your material requirements is essential for effective project planning and scheduling. With a comprehensive plumbing takeoff, you can efficiently allocate resources and labor throughout the construction process. Whether it's scheduling plumbers to install pipes or coordinating deliveries of fixtures and fittings, knowing exactly what you need and when you need it ensures that your project stays on track from start to finish.

Facilitates Value Engineering

Plumbing takeoff provide a detailed breakdown of material requirements, allowing for a thorough analysis of costs and potential savings. With accurate takeoffs, plumbing contractors can identify opportunities for cost-saving alternatives or efficiencies in materials and design, ultimately delivering greater value to clients while maintaining quality standards.

Key Components Involved in a Plumbing Takeoff

A thorough plumbing takeoff involves meticulously accounting for all the essential elements:

  • Fixtures: This includes sinks, toilets, showers, bathtubs, and any other plumbing fixture specified in the plans. Estimators need to meticulously count each fixture based on the project requirements.
  • Pipes: The takeoff process involves identifying the different pipe types used (copper, PEX, PVC) and meticulously calculating their lengths based on scaled measurements from the plumbing plans.
  • Fittings: These connect pipes and change directions. Takeoffs involve determining the specific types and quantities of fittings needed for each pipe connection (elbows, tees, couplings).
  • Valves: These control water flow throughout the system. The takeoff process involves pinpointing the locations of different valves (shut-off, pressure relief) based on the plumbing plans.

How to do Plumbing takeoff

When it comes to plumbing projects, cost estimation depends on accurately doing plumbing takeoff. But how exactly do you do plumbing takeoff? There are two primary approaches  - doing takeoff manually and by using a takeoff software. 

Manual Method 

  1. Gather Your Materials: Assemble the necessary tools like a ruler, scaling tool (engineer's scale or architect's scale), calculator, pencils, and a takeoff worksheet.

  2. Review the Plumbing Plans: Carefully examine the plumbing plans, paying close attention to symbols representing different fixtures and pipe types. Familiarize yourself with the legend to accurately interpret the symbols.

  3. Scaling and Measurements: Use the scaling tool to convert scaled measurements on the plans to actual lengths. Measure the lengths of each pipe run meticulously.

  4. Fixture Counting: Count each plumbing fixture (sinks, toilets, showers) based on their symbols on the plans. Ensure you account for all fixtures in different locations (bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms).

  5. Fitting Calculations: Analyze the pipe connections on the plans and determine the types and quantities of fittings needed (elbows, tees, couplings) for each change in direction or termination point.

  6. Material List Creation: Compile all your measurements, fixture counts, and fitting calculations onto a takeoff worksheet. This serves as your final material list for procurement.

Advantages

  • Saves money spent on software purchase. 
  • Suitable for small, simple projects.

Disadvantages

  • Time-consuming and prone to errors due to manual calculations and measurements.
  • Can be tedious and error-prone for complex projects with intricate layouts.
  • Difficult to track changes or revisions to the plans.

Plumbing Takeoff Software

Today, most estimators leverage the power of on screen takeoff software for its numerous advantages. These software programs digitize the process, minimize errors, and significantly improve efficiency. Here's a breakdown of two prominent types of takeoff software:

Manual Plumbing Takeoff Software: 

This software offers a user-friendly interface and features that  improves the takeoff process as compared to Manual takeoffs. Here's how it streamlines the process:

  • Digital Plans Integration: Upload digital copies of the plumbing plans directly into the software. This eliminates the need for manual scaling and potential measurement inaccuracies.
  • Material Databases: Access built-in databases containing comprehensive information on various plumbing materials, including standard lengths, fitting types, and current pricing.

  • Assisted Takeoff: Click on digital elements like pipes and fixtures on the plans to populate quantities in the material list. This reduces errors from manual calculations but still requires constant clicking and dragging throughout the plans, which can be very time-consuming for complex projects.

AI-Powered Plumbing Takeoff Software

AI-powered takeoff software like Beam AI completely automates the takeoff process, offering significant advantages over both manual and manual takeoff software. Here’s how to do takeoff in Beam AI’s AI-powered takeoff software - 

Choosing the Right Plumbing Takeoff Software for the Job

When selecting takeoff software for the plumbing takeoff, consider the following things: 

  • Project Complexity: For smaller, straightforward projects, semi-automated software might suffice. However, for intricate or large-scale projects, AI-powered software's automation can save significant time and resources.

  • Team Expertise: If your team is comfortable with traditional takeoff methods, the transition to manual software might be easier. However, instead of investing in old technology you should consider doing takeoffs on AI-powered technology only.

  • Value Engineering: If doing value engineering and refining estimates for competitive bidding is your priority, then AI-powered takeoff is the best investment. While manual takeoffs are more efficient compared to manual ways, the constant need to click and drag on-screen take up the time that could have been spent on refining estimates. On the other hand, AI-powered takeoffs do the takeoff for you so you only need to spend time on reviewing the takeoffs.

  • Budget: Budget is one of the most important factors to consider while making any investment. Every takeoff software vendor has their own pricing plans. You should compare the cost of the software investment against the time it saves and efficiency it boosts for your estimating team.

Which Plumbing Takeoff Software You should Invest in? 

Both manual and AI-powered takeoff software offer substantial improvements over manual takeoff methods. By considering your project complexity, team expertise, and budget, you can choose the software that best suits your requirements. Regardless of your choice, takeoff software empowers you to generate precise material lists, streamline the takeoff process, and ultimately, ensure the success of your plumbing projects.

The Takeaway 

The way estimators do plumbing takeoffs has changed significantly. Just a few years ago, traditional manual methods were prevalent. Today, technology plays a central role in every construction process, and plumbing takeoffs are no exception. Regardless of how you do the plumbing takeoffs, the process itself is critical for accurate cost estimates. 

Beam AI's software offers a robust AI-powered takeoff solution for plumbing contractors seeking to optimize the plumbing takeoff processes. Our AI-powered takeoff software leverages artificial intelligence to auto detect the plumbing quantities and give you 99.5%+ accurate takeoffs. Send us a site plan of the blueprint you have taken off recently at rc.orlan@attentiv.ai for accuracy comparison. Book a demo to learn more.