Flooring Takeoffs

To Review, Or Not To Review: That Is The Question

We all agree that job reviews are important, but they’re also one of the first things to get cut from the priority list when time gets tight. 

The natural state of construction tends to be chaos, so it takes a concerted effort from everyone to accomplish two things: 1) make sure reviews actually happen, and 2) they are a productive use of time. Should you choose to accept it, here are a few tips that can help you on this mission.

Schedule A Review Time

Say it with me: Popping into someone’s office while they’re working on something else isn’t a job review.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

PM pokes their head into your office: “Hey, why’d you figure this carpet here?”
Estimator: “Good morning to you, too. What job are we talking about here?”

PM: “Job XYZ”
Estimator: “I have no idea – I did that days ago. I’ll have to look at the takeoff.”

PM: “My proposal is due in five minutes.”

Ok, the part about having your own office may be the most unrealistic part of this scenario. 

Fair enough. 

How about ‘the PM casually calls out to you as they walk to their office, because your boss likes an open floor plan and your desk is in the middle of the office?’

When someone is busy putting out fires all day, it can be very difficult to add another meeting to their calendar, but you should anyway. I’ve tried everything from blocking off specific hours for any review to scheduling specific jobs on a review calendar, both with varying degrees of success. 

At a past job, any proposal over a specific dollar amount triggered a job review. In some situations, that extra set of eyes may be more experienced than you. They may see something right away that you didn’t even know to look for. This can be a learning moment for you as an estimator in addition to improving your takeoff.

However you can make it happen, jobs that get reviewed are going to be more accurate than those that aren’t. 

Be Prepared

If you want your coworkers to see the benefits of job reviews, be prepared. As much as you may want to blame the project manager for an inefficient review session, it’s up to you as the estimator to know the job.

“I do x number of takeoffs each week. How am I supposed to remember the details about all of them?”

You’re not, but creating documentation for your takeoff can make your life easier when it’s review time. Take notes of things like:

  • Contradictions in the plans.
  • Any assumptions you’re making.
  • Possible RFIs to submit to the GC (if time allows).

I add a Notes tab in Measure Square, so those all stay with my takeoff. The PM can access those notes whether they are looking at the takeoff or just the shop drawings. They can also copy and paste my notes into any RFI form the GC has provided.

NOTE: This is also helpful for me when I have to jump back into a job on short notice. My notes are the first place I look when there’s a job question, otherwise, you’re stuck going through the plans and getting reacquainted with the project before you can do anything else.

If you don’t want to stop in the middle of your takeoff to type all this up, you can use a voice recorder or a voice to text software. Yes, there’s an AI for that, too.

Using Microsoft already and don’t want to pay for another service? Word has this feature built-in with Dictate.

Document Action Items

Once the review is over, you’re free to move on with your life, right? Not so fast, my friend.

There’s still work to do. You’ll most likely have adjustments and follow ups to handle. 

What’s that? You already forgot what you were supposed to fix? Well, the only thing harder than scheduling one review is…scheduling two reviews. Just like with your takeoffs, get in the habit of documenting.

If the review is remote, you can use software like Otter AI to record and transcribe everything from the meeting. You’ll then have the option to email this out to everyone involved. If the review is in person, take notes and recap them before everyone scatters. Once you return to your desk, get those notes typed up and emailed.

All this talk of documentation has probably made your eyes glaze over by now. Is it more work yes? Will it save you some trouble in the future? Yes. Am I just asking myself easy questions so that I can answer with yes? Perhaps.

These 3 tips are simple, but they can still add value to your job review process. Give them a try and see how they work for you. Keep in mind, though, we’re still in construction:

“The best laid plans are still in the design phase, but we drew this on a napkin.”

Someone in construction, probably

2 thoughts on “To Review, Or Not To Review: That Is The Question”

  1. You are absolutely right, if the project has not been reviewed properly before we start takeoff and even after we complete, the project takeoff time line automatically increases. We need to tackle projects like how we solve a physics problem study what is given and then proceed step by step. We have created client specific checklists for our teams to follow before starting and after completing a takeoff for QC. It helped us a lot !!

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