Flooring Takeoffs

What Is A Flooring Takeoff?

Before you can bid a flooring project, you need to know how much material is on the project. A flooring takeoff is the most accurate way to get these numbers. Or you can always just eyeball it; we’re estimators, not exactimators, right?

But let’s say you want to actually keep your job, so a takeoff it is.

Why is a flooring takeoff so important?

  • Submitting An Accurate Proposal: Too high and you’re not getting the job. Too low and you’re definitely getting the job.
  • Ordering the Right Amount of Material: Finding out that you’re short is never a good feeling. Finding out you’re short when the project is already behind schedule, and it’s an item with an 8 week lead time? 
  • Profitable Projects: It all starts with the takeoff. Mistakes there will compound throughout the process, and in the end, you’ll feel that in your bottom line.

The basic steps for performing a flooring takeoff are the same for every project:

  • Import plans into your takeoff software
  • Build the material list
  • Get quantity totals

Import plans into takeoff software

There was a time when you would do your takeoff by hand, but these days we use dedicated software. The first step to your takeoff is deciding which plans you’ll need, so a review of the plan set is always helpful before you start clicking away.

Trouble deciding which plans you’ll need? Here’s a list of the usual suspects:

  • Finish Plans – these will show you any finishes or patterns
  • Reference Plans
    • RCP – Helpful when you’re doing tile to determine wall heights and check for tile on the ceiling. Yes, that’s a real thing.
    • Elevations – Also useful for tile. Some people use them for the actual takeoff, but I don’t recommend doing that.
    • Details – Typically cut sections of millwork, and trim / transitions.
  • Material List – List of the finishes.
  • Room Finish Schedule – A list that tells you the finishes for every room on the project.
  • Construction Plan – Normally has the dimensions and elevation tags.
  • Enlarged Plans – You’ll see these a lot for restrooms.

This will cover the majority of your takeoffs. If you find that you are referencing additional plans, then bring those in as well. Approach it as if someone else is going to be reviewing your takeoff – what info would they need to be able to follow your thought process? 

Now, there are a lot of options for flooring takeoff software out there, and your choice really depends on your company’s setup. If you just want a Net SF, here are a few options:

If you need something more detailed, then flooring specific software is your best bet. These also typically allow you to do your math in the program and export directly to Excel, which can save you some time and headaches. Here are a few of the most well-known:

Build the material list

Most plan sets will have a page just for the finishes, so start by looking at the index or cover  page of your set. They may be added onto a finish plan, though, so you’ll probably have to check out a few different pages.

If it’s a budget or an early SD set, you’ll want to look for the project narrative or notes in the margins of the plans. 

“But I’ve looked through every page in the plan set and read the narratives – still nothing!”

Before you send off that email to the GC, there’s one more place to check for finishes – the spec book.

Like with the plan set, go through the index that lists out the different sections. Some spec books will have a section dedicated to the finish materials, but others will add the materials to the relevant spec section.

Some jobs, it can feel like finding the finish info is more work than doing the actual takeoff:

Did I wrong an architect in a past life?

Get Quantity Totals

Alright, now we’re finally to the ‘fun’ part.

How to describe actually doing a takeoff? I’ll steal from a previous blog post for that:

“Well, flooring takeoffs are a lot like solving puzzles, only some of the boxes have pieces missing and every few months the puzzle gets re-released and the design is totally different. “
“And sometimes you’ll have to guess what the puzzle is supposed to look like AND make your own puzzle pieces just to finish it. So you’ll get together with other people that have worked on the same puzzle and then the actual puzzle maker will let you know which one is correct.”

To get started, you will need to trace out all the areas included in your scope. And by trace, I mean use your mouse to click around and essentially redraw the floor plans. 

Yes, it’s just as exciting to do as it is to read about.

This is typically the most time consuming part of the process, and a few days of it is more than enough time for most people to realize they don’t want to do this job.

Once everything is traced, you can apply your materials to the areas. With a good set of plans, this can be as simple as drag and drop. If it’s early in the process, like a design stage or SD set, then you’ll probably have to use your expertise to make some assumptions. If you are making assumptions, be sure to document them on the takeoff and in your bid.

Just as a simple example, let’s say you have a 10’ x 10’ room and a 20’ x 20’ room. The 10’ room is getting VCT and the 20’ room is getting carpet.

So, on your totals sheet you’d have 100 SF of VCT and 400 SF of Carpet. These are your net totals. Depending on the software you use, you may also get an additional number that includes the waste. These are your gross totals.

There are exceptions, but resilient tiles are typically in SF, carpet tiles and roll goods are typically in SY. Divide by 9 to convert your totals from SF to SY.

Interesting (?)  fact – you can’t find this definition of takeoff in the dictionary. What else are you hiding from us, Webster’s? Feel free to use this bit of trivia next time you’re at a party.

Why, yes, I am a lot of fun at parties, and now you can be, too!

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