Let's Talk Take-off Software


From original questioner:

What are you using for .pdf plan take-off software and what do you like or dis-like?

I've sampled several. From free to $3k and can not find one that fits the requirements without paying for extras I will not use.

I currently use PdfExchange Viewer for measurement and mark-up. The only software I found that meets my requirements is PlanSwift, but not at the price they want (I don't require anything more than their measurement tools).

If PdfExchange had continuance in their measurement tools, I believe it would be a great tool!
By continuance, I mean, measure a room of baseboard, move to another and the totaling of length continues. Not 20 different totals that need to be manually added up.

From contributor Ga


What is your estimating process? I would look at Bluebeam PDF software. It's pretty sweet for $300.

From contributor Ro

Thank you Gary!
I'm currently looking at BlueBeam.

The interface is different and takes some getting used to.

There are features I like, but;
To date I don't see the continuance of measurement that I'm looking for..

I'm also not getting my 'mark-ups' to stay on the plans.. Probably just me..

The $300 per license is a good value if.. and I haven't gone deep enough into it to know as of yet..
Do you 'own' the program?
Or; Do you have to 're-up' the license annually?
Can you 'sign out/sign-in' on another computer on the same license?

From contributor Ro

To the Process question;

Plans are either send to us Electronically or we Download from the Clients site as .pdf's.

Half the Team, as I do, does the Take-off' digitally, the other half still prints them on the plotter (considering I'm the old guy on the Team, it's funny I'm the one going digital).

Due to the complexity of our Bid's, we've built our own Estimating software in Excel.
So a Take-off program for us does not require the features OST, PlanSwift and many others do for 'Costing's.
Also does not require an Excel interface.

PdfExchange Viewer (free version) comes so close!

From contributor Mi

Robert, There are tutorials on Bluebeam on You Tube I believe, very powerful in conjunction with a spread sheet.

From contributor Ro

Thank you!
The link is private, but I did find one (luck I think) that helped.
Looks like it does total like I require! WHOA!
Also showed me a couple easier ways to get where I need to be.

Now to learn if you own it or lease it.
And if they dis-count for volume licenses.

From contributor Mi

Robert, I have had it for years and it was only like $200 bucks one time. I also lost it in a hard drive crash once and they hooked me back up NO CHARGE..

From contributor Ro

From what I've learned it does a summary of measurement.
This is 'my' main requirement.

It also seems to have an email feature (which I've yet to master) which will be important as we move remote bidding.

I like that you 'own it'!
This should allow a single license to be used a different locations (something else I'm looking at).

The Interface is a bit complex, but I'm certain once used to, that will be over-come.

It also has 'Bookmarks' (when traveling through a 130 page planset becomes very important).

I'm also seeing a 'Toolbox'.
This should allow custom Take-off items to be added for ease of future bids.

I've yet to Master 'Call-outs' & taking a picture of it to send as an RFI. I'm sure it's there, just haven't found it yet.

The Email interface is also tricky to Master. Once done, it should prove handy.

BlueBeam as has costing's, which I won't use, but there for those that could.

The Excel interface is also something I can not use, but again, for those that can it is there and works fairly well.
I say fairly only because I do not see it entering Excel at a focused cell.
Important to me because I require specific entry.

Overall, I see it as a very good program!
No reason to buy OST/ PlanSwift (could name several more) if you require something lighter.

From contributor Ro

Any others 'we' should look at Folks?

From contributor Se

Robert, CostMiner (www.costminer.com) may work for you. It has the 'extras', but at $25 a month you probably won't worry about paying for them. You can create a dummy estimate that contains only take-off quantities and then export it to Excel. That will give you the 'continuance'.

From contributor Ro

Sergey, Thank you for the response!

I will look deeper at this and find out a bit more about it.

First look shows me it's a 'lease'.
I would prefer to own.

Comparably, BlueBeam Revu would pay for itself within the year and do almost all this does (short of local values, which can be looked up) and no further cost.

Interesting program and thank you for mentioning it.
I will do a trial and look deeper.

From contributor Ro

This is termed a 'Bump'.

I really wish to hear about more software choices.

My PDF Exchange, if would do continuous measurement, would fit the need.

BlueBeam Revu is next on the list if I could get it for less.

Any other offerings out there?

From contributor Se

We also released a free TakeOff tool:
There is no need to register - just open and use it.

From contributor Ro

I looked.. Sergey..

What I suggest to you is to take a look at PdfExchange.
Model yourself after what they offer and take it the next step.
The summary of the items taken off.
This is what I can not get them to do.

In their 'free' version, I can build modules.
4" high base, 6" high base and multiple piece base and choose the color it represents.
This continues to no end of what and how many I can build.

BUT and this is the important part..
There is no totaling of measurements.
I can click to a summary that shows everything I did, by module and total it manually and enter it into Excel (or total it in excel).

That's the step I wish to avoid.

Take a look at PdfExchange and what it offers.
Model yourself to it.
Do the next step they won't.

And you have a product that will sell!

From contributor Se

Thank you, Robert, we will take a look.

From contributor Se

Robert, we added showing the total length and area. Is that what you expected? You will need to press F5 in the browser to see the changes.

Were you referring to the free version of PDF-XChange? I might be missing something, but I found it quite difficult to use the measurement tools for take-off. They do not seem to have undo/redo on segment by segment level, you cannot pan or zoom whilst drawing, and there is no snapping to line ends.

From contributor Sh

Planswift has excel integration and is by far the best takeoff software I have used. The software is very powerful and cheap when you compare to the high dollar software like OST, and projectpak. 900 bucks pays it self of pretty quickly. There are multiple places in your bid to add this cost and still have it be transparent and keep the bid competitive. One area as an example would be field measurements, submittals and shop drawing allocation portion of the quote. very easy to manipulate that part of the quote. The program can be financed into 4 payments with the maintenance for right at 275 a month. I am currently working on making assemblies that include finished end options, tops with sink cutout options and cabinets with light rail and locks built into them to reduce digitizing a bunch of different items. This would take a run that would require 10 to 20 digitized items in a run to about 4 or 5.