Use software to calculate takeoffs for PDF files fast and simple

Not long ago it was challenging to calculate construction takeoffs from PDF files.  You had one of two choices:

  1. Do the takeoff by hand looking at the picture.  This was slow and often inaccurate.  You could easily spend hours doing a simple takeoff, and still have errors that cost you money.
  2. You could buy multiple software programs.  First, to convert the PDF to TIF, Then another program to calculate distances and possibly a third program to integrate the answers with Excel.

That was a lot of work, wasted time and could have cost you money.

Luckily, there is now a much easier answer.  The new batch of comprehensive construction takeoff and estimating software programs do everything for you all in one place.

You can now take any PDF file and calculate a takeoff in 10% the time it took before.

The first step is to load your adobe PDF file and convert it to a TIF file type, this is done in one of two ways.  The files will be converted automatically is you are starting a new project. If you have already started a project and need to bring in new files just selected the PDF to TIF converter button from the tools menu.  Select the files and hit the convert button.  With that, the conversion will be done for you.

Now that you have your files converted, it is time to get down to compiling the takeoff.  These programs allow you to calculate easily area, linear, segment or counts with just a couple click of the mouse.  Zoom into the area you want to work on so you have good accuracy, then outline the area, the segment or start a count by selecting that function.

After you have specifies an area, you can add materials to it.  Suppose you are estimating stucco siding, after setting the area go to the materials list.  All the programs have them or allow you to make custom materials lists.  From here, you can drag and drop the materials into the area.  The programs will automatically calculate the amount of material needed and its cost.  Just that simple.

Once you have completed all the area with the different materials needed you should have a complete materials takeoff list ready to go.  Depending on the program, you may even be able to export this data to Excel and QuickBooks.

To this point almost all the programs are equal.  Some work better in area but all do the work.  The biggest differences in these programs are the cost and level of complexity.  Some of these programs are very limited in scope while others are complex full integration programs that take an IT team to manage.  The price for these programs range from $99 to over $3,000.  Often there are trial versions of these programs so you can see if the program does what you need.