We are a general contractor that performs between $20 to 30 million in primarily public sector work in the Chicago Metropolitan area annually. We are signatory to the carpenters and laborers union, and we rarely self-perform any work, except when the terms of the contract require some percentage of work to be self-performed.
We have been using eTakeoff, the Premier version for about 3 years. I generally will take off all the Division 2 work including Selective Demo but not mass grading. We also use it to take off structural concrete, masonry, drywall and framing, painting, windows and doors, Flooring, exterior wall coverings (dryvit, composite wall panel, and curtain wall), Roofing, blocking and flashing, and Division 10 work. If time allows, I will do counts on VAVs, and other HVAC equipment, Light fixtures, toilets, lavs and urinals.
The only things I fix hard labor cost to are selective demo, doors, frames and hardware, blocking installation, casework and casework installation, Trim and trim installation, and Division 10 installation. I assign unit prices to the other work to ascertain my anticipated cost for those portions of the work and use the quantities derived from the takeoffs to check scope as the sub prices come in.
Aside from the user-friendly interface, the lighting quick rate at which the drawings load, the intuitive zoom and scroll drawing manipulation; these are the features I like best in no particular order:
C- Click the tangent point on a curve, then somewhere near the center of the arc, and then the other tangent point, press C and the program, draws a line and calculates the length of the curve.
Drawing Compare- Did that useless architect send out revised drawings and not cloud any of the changes he made? That never happens. Use “drawing compare” and overlay the new sheet over the old one to see the changes by comparing the different colored layers.
F2- Allows you to rename the drawing filename from something like “skidmoreacad031212-1.pdf”to “003 A1.11 Basement Plan” right on the page while you are looking at the title block.
Pattern search- Want to find, for example, all the Keynote 22s on a page- highlight “22” in the legend and start a search. In a few seconds all, or almost all, the Keynote 22s will be highlighted.
Drawing links- create an Icon on a plan view near a section tag. Click the icon and it snaps to the section even of it’s on another sheet.
Open a separate drawing page. The 35 partition types are on one sheet. And the floor plans are on others. Open the page with the partition legend on one monitor, and do the takeoff on the pages without the legend on the other. Use the highlighter or colored rectangle annotation to highlight the partition types you’ve completed. Flip the drawings back and forth between the monitors with a mouse click as needed.
Continue takeoff on another drawing- That sidewalk that starts at the dorm and continues for 3 blocks and 3 pages to the campus. Use this feature to get the total sf/cy/mesh/sand or gravel bed/ for the whole sidewalk length without stopping and starting a new takeoff on each page.
One measurement can yield 16 tons of information– for example if I measure a parking lot, one “trace” yields: Square Feet of BAM, binder, and surface, Square yards of BAM, Binder, Surface, Tons of BAM, Binder, Surface, Cubic yards of Stone, Tons of stone, gallons of Tack coat, SF/SY of Fabric. If I chose to, I could also calculate curb length, CY of concrete for the curb, LF or tons of rebar, quantity of Joint bars, number of expansion joints, tons and CY of stone required for curb leveling, but for reasons that are my own, I take off the curbs separately.
Constant updates, great support, and a partnership between user and programmers unlike any I have ever experienced.
If there is a bug, or a program enhancement that will make the product better, eTakeoff issues an update that notifies you when you open the program, that a new version is available. You don’t have to experience a problem then go to the website to find a hotfix or patch. Or endure the problems waiting for the annual or semiannual release that fixes them.
The support staff is extremely knowledgeable and can help with either technical issues or setting up formulas within the worksheets to help you get the results that you want. Plus there are beau coup training videos on YouTube.
Do you have a suggestion for the program? Submit it though the forum and they will actually try and incorporate it in the program if it makes sense. To date, I’ve had had a couple of my suggestions incorporated in the program. I have never seen a company more responsive to their users than the folks at eTakeoff.
eTakeoff does not provide a database of cost, which suits us fine. Other estimating programs that provide those databases cost 10 times more than eTakeoff cost, and the prices included in those programs never match the regional and market realities.
Additionally, with so much of the industry being commodity driven, the prices are obsolete almost as soon as they’re published. One also has to sort through a lot of prebuilt assemblies and other items that are seldom if ever used in pricing the work we bid. For example, we don’t bid residential work, so why pay for 10,000 residential unit prices that we never use and worse, have to sort thru all 10,000 items every time we need to find some item that is important to us.
eTakeoff is not idiot proof. To effectively use the program, at least the premier version, you should have a good background in Excel and understand the rules for algebraic iteration, because the manner that formulas are set up in eTakeoff are very similar (but not identical to) the way they get set up in an Excel worksheet.