Todays construction estimator does the majority of their estimates by measuring directly from PDF drawings. Blueprint measuring used to be primarily from paper plans and was measured typically by hand or by using a GTCO digitizer. When plans switched to a digital or PDF format, companys like Tally Systems, Inc. transitioned to PDF plan takeoff using the mouse on the estimators computer. Construction estimating software comes in a shapes and sizes but the simplicity seems to be the growing trend in the construction software industry. Dominated by Microsoft Excel, products like QuickMeasure OnScreen help construction estimators measure directly from PDF plans and eliminate the need to print PDF blueprints to paper. The advantage of doing takeoffs from PDF plans with software like QuickMeasure OnScreen is the ability to zoom in on the drawing to see small detail and improve the accuracy of the measurement. With the majority of construction estimators relying on Excel as the primary piece of software to build estimating templates, a program that feeds takeoffs into an estimators existing spreadsheet has become key.
With the emergence of online plan rooms and emergence of general contractors who distribute their plan by linking subcontractors to plans stored on their servers, the ability to download and begin measuring from a PDF image instantly becomes more important. Since the estimator no longer is working from paper blueprints, the ability of software to calibrate using a known dimension from the PDF drawing is crucial to generating an accurate takeoff. Companies like Tally Systems have integrated high accuracy takeoffs with simplicity to give the estimator full PDF plan takeoff capabilities while working within Excel the estimator has designed in-house rather than purchase a construction estimating software package that was designed the way someone else estimates.
The other advantage of using PDF plans for blueprint takeoff is that it eliminates the expense of printing plans to paper. This saves not only on wasting paper but the wasted time of driving all over town picking up blueprints. The ability to measure on the screen of the computer is really an exciting technology and will be the standard for construction blueprint takeoff for some time. Those who think that paper blueprints will make a comeback are hoping for something that will not happen. PDF blueprints and other digital plan formats will continue to dominate and those who dont migrate to digital plan takeoff software like QuickMeasure OnScreen will find themselves wasting time and money doing takeoffs manually.
Where is construction estimating and blueprint takeoff going from here? BIM takeoff is on the horizon where the architect will design a building that contains a list of the material quantities but until that technology becomes more commonplace, PDF plan takeoff software will be a staple for every estimator.