Opportunities for Building Designers Post 14 of 20
Before an estimator can bid for or start a project, they need to know the types and quantities of different materials they will need to complete it.
As the designer of the project, you can help ensure a proper estimation of the costs and requirements for the building materials and which also indicates the labor costs involved in the installment or construction of said materials.
With current software capabilities, building designers possess a plethora of data which is of great value to the builder/developer.
You are the creator of the quantities on our drawings, and you use highly-advanced software to delineate those quantities, why do we then say to the construction industry, “Do manual takeoffs (or (MTO) “material” takeoff) of the quantities on our drawings.”
If you are not upselling a physical quantities report, you’re missing out on an easy opportunity with little effort. However, some liability exists. Let us explore the mechanics.
How to Get the Work
It is essential to approach the task methodically to achieve the most accurate approximation possible.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, who better than the building designer, with highly-advanced CADD or possibly BIM software, to provide this service. Your built-in clientele is your market.
However, only for those in which you have used your high-sophisticated software to create a building. Otherwise, you too, are doing manual takeoffs.
Which is still a commercial service, with much more time involved.
Even with the design contract already established, upselling the material takeoff services can be much more advantageous at the overall contract negotiation stage.
Especially when using BIM. All through the modeling process, you should be thinking about the quantity, so you make consistent decisions, your model’s families and elements should be considered to be measurable.
How to Prepare a Physical Quantities Report
Necessarily, the takeoff should quantify all the materials needed to complete the building, structure, or project.
More specifically, it should include all the physical elements that go into the project.
Which could be raw materials such as concrete, timber or sand, as well as prefabricated materials; bricks, lengths of electrical cable, plumbing pipes, and light fixtures.
To create services that are more invaluable to your clients, learn how to add value to your estimates with value engineering.
In addition to counting the materials, the MTO should also specify the type of building material required.
For example, the grade of steel or the type of electrical cable.
Of course, if you’re providing a Project Manual or Specifications Book, this task is already complete.
However, we’ll address that opportunity for you as a building designer in the next chapter.
Different contractors might have a diverse range of requirements when it comes to compiling their takeoff.
A roofing specialist will use different materials than a concrete contractor, for example, but the principles of takeoff are broadly the same. Meet with your client and explain the differences, then get to work.
How to handle the Physical Quantities Report?
There are four basic types of measurement required for the takeoff in most construction projects.
- Count – The numbers required for specific individual items. These could be anything from the number of lighting fixtures needed in a given building to the number of studs necessary to finish the project.
- Length – Some items, such as cables and pipes, are measured primarily by length. You will also need to know other dimensions, such as diameter, i.e., the information included with the type of material required. You might need to allow for extra amounts for elements such as drops for switches, receptacles, and panels when measuring electrical cable.
- Area – Some materials will require a measurement of the surface area, which could include elements such as flooring, cladding, or an estimate of the amount of paint needed for a given structure.
- Volume – You measure some materials in mass, such as the amount of asphalt used per yard or the concrete required to lay a foundation.
As mentioned earlier, there are two main types of takeoffs. Manual takeoffs, which is the use of traditional paper plans, and it’s possible to conduct an accurate takeoff from these materials.
Working from drawings, you can use colored pens, pencils, or markers to distinguish the different items and types of materials specified.
As paper blueprints can be expensive and time-consuming to produce, many estimators are adopting new technology to perform their estimates.
If you’re still using paper, you might be expected to use a transparent plastic overlay rather than marking the blueprint directly.
You can then transfer the quantities and materials to spreadsheets or use various preprinted forms and worksheets that can help you to work out the exact material costs for each component.
When using a BIM model to generate quantities, you need to have developed a consistent model with enough construction elements definition.
Cost analysis is most beneficial in the early design stages of a BIM project when design decisions have less impact on the project, and they are easier to implement.
For this reason, cost estimates based on the area or volume of a proposed conceptual design and comparison to historical data for facilities with similar functions and programming are especially valuable for confirming that the plan is accurate.
Today’s software is going to export the information into an Excel Spreadsheet, or the iOS equivalent.
Typically, it would be left to the builder to fill in the “cost” fields and finalize the financial estimate for construction. Which is also true for any “waste factors.”
Share data that will help ensure everyone is on the same page and further your client’s ultimate objective – moving forward toward construction in the most expeditious fashion.
Your work will not relieve the contractor of its duties, contractual obligations or liabilities as based on the final CD’s and specifications, which are a part of the contract for the work.
Be careful, but not fearful, of undergoing the scrutiny of your work – i.e., providing anything you perceive could ‘pin you down’ as to the accuracy or appropriateness of the design documents, of which you are already responsible.
Avoid letting the in-office level of knowledge, diligence, and acceptable level of accuracy in preparing designs and CD’s stricken your confidence so low that the mere prospect of litigation rules.