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    wallabee4's Avatar
    wallabee4 Posts: 294, Reputation: 19
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    #1

    Mar 17, 2008, 02:09 PM
    What is the definition of 'take offs' with regards to a house plan?
    What is the definition of 'take offs' with regards to a house plan? In other words, if you gave me take offs for my home design that you as an architect had made, what information would they have in them, how would you go about gathering the information for them, what info would you give to me as the 'take offs' information, and approx. how long might it take you to do the takes offs on a basic 1500 sq ft home? Several answers from several architects invited, as I'm wanting to be more sure I have a general consensus not just one person's opinion. THANKS!
    smearcase's Avatar
    smearcase Posts: 2,392, Reputation: 316
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    #2

    Mar 17, 2008, 05:25 PM
    I am not an architect but have done engineering work.
    A take off in my experience is the process of determining how much of each material is needed to build the structure described in the plans. The product of the takeoff is a summarized list of the needed materials (1,000' 1/2 inch copper pipe, 300 sheets drywall etc). I am retired but I imagine that with software it can prob be done in less than an hour (?) today.
    Renman521's Avatar
    Renman521 Posts: 24, Reputation: 2
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    #3

    Apr 4, 2008, 05:38 PM
    The term "take off" usually refers to estimating of a project. Typically it would be an itemized list of materials specified on the plans for your house to be constructed. The list will contain a description of the item and quantity In some cases a dollar value can be associated with each item. The items range from amount concrete required to build your foundation to the amount of paint. As far as time, that will depend experience level and if software can be used. I personally can't see a 1500 sf house taking that long to complete however.
    jimmystyle's Avatar
    jimmystyle Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #4

    May 25, 2008, 07:21 PM
    a few additional thoughts for consideration -

    I agree with the answers above.

    When my firm does take-offs we typically use a unit cost that accounts for installation not just the raw material. For example, you can buy a 2x4 for a few dollars at Home Depot, but to have a carpenter to actually install it, etc. it costs a lot more.

    Also, we typically will have a summary sheet with our take-offs that take the numerous individual items and group them into more understandable chunks - this makes it easier to modify the design if things come in over budget. So for your house you may see an overall number for foundation or roof values. If you don't have a summary sheet it can often be difficult to sort through all the various line items and be difficult to track each component to the building.

    Finally you should be sure to have your architect account for General Contractor mark-ups in the take-off. Depending on the market this could be around 17% or more of the value of your building. This mark-up will account for his profit, sub trades costs, etc.

    If you have all of these tools at your disposal prior to bidding the work to a contractor, you will have a much easier time discerning fair bids and have more leverage when negotiating prices.

    I have done an estimate/take-offs for very large projects which include numerous buildings over several acres in a day, so I would think a home of only 1500 sf would take about an hour or so...

    hope that helps.
    wallabee4's Avatar
    wallabee4 Posts: 294, Reputation: 19
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    #5

    May 25, 2008, 10:54 PM
    So, if my architect gives me a list that consists solely of dollar figures across from categories such as 'carpeting' or 'windows' or 'roofing' and tells me he spent 13.3 hours on it at $80/hr should I be suspicious? (rhetorical question!) Where could I go to get an 'official' statement that would match the answers I've gotten here from you guys who are more or less 'anonymous' unverifiable sources?
    jimmystyle's Avatar
    jimmystyle Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #6

    May 28, 2008, 06:48 AM
    Well,

    Without knowing any of the details surrounding your specific circumstances, it would be difficult for me to say with any certainty that your architect is being dishonest. It is possible that your architect would have spent that much time on your take-offs if there was a lot of product research involved, or something like that - i.e. research for numerous types of flooring or windows, etc. However, in my opinion 13.3 hours seems excessive.

    I don't know that there is an "official" statement that would describe what you have received. I can only suggest you check any contract, etc. you may have with your architect. There could be areas in the contract which describe billable hours, or describe the scope of services for various aspects of the design process. Make sure your architect is doing what they said they would be doing.

    My suggestion would be to ask for proof of the 13.3 hours of work - i.e. sketches or research materials.

    The response I gave you was strictly based on my professional experience and does not necessarily represent every practicing architect out there. I will say, however, that what I did describe is not uncommon and is not specific to my firm.

    Like I said, without any knowledge of your situation, it would be wrong for me to say your architect is over billing you, but it does sound a bit fishy.

    Hope that helps - good luck.
    amricca's Avatar
    amricca Posts: 851, Reputation: 92
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    #7

    May 28, 2008, 08:32 AM
    In my experience take-offs are done by a Contractor not an Architect. Hard to say how long it would take. Is this something you requested him to do for you?
    jimmystyle's Avatar
    jimmystyle Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #8

    May 28, 2008, 08:48 AM
    amricca -

    You're right that contractors can and will perform take-offs. They will usually do this in order to create their bid propsals. However, it is very common for an architect to also perform this task prior to issuing construction documents to bidders, that way the client (in this case wallabee4) is able to compare apples to apples. It is also a tool to keep the project on budget - which is a large portion of any architect's responsibillities.
    amricca's Avatar
    amricca Posts: 851, Reputation: 92
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    #9

    May 28, 2008, 10:57 AM
    Yes, I agree you and your posts. We usually compare similar projects SF cost to get an idea of what the client can expect rather than do material take-offs. Finishes are what really put most projects over-budget, the basic building materials are what they are. The only way to reduce costs there would be to reduce the size of the building and that is not possible sometimes when a client needs a specified amount of square footage.

    I pondered this question for awhile, thanks for the discussion.
    kumarcse82's Avatar
    kumarcse82 Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #10

    May 29, 2008, 04:12 AM
    Right that contractors can and will perform take-offs. They will usually do this in order to create their bid propsals. However, it is very common for an architect to also perform this task prior to issuing construction documents to bidders, that way the client (in this case wallabee4) is able to compare apples to apples. It is also a tool to keep the pr test
    cottoncandy's Avatar
    cottoncandy Posts: 29, Reputation: 0
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    #11

    Jun 1, 2008, 12:24 PM
    Anonymous sources? You are either complaining or suing everyone you know. I'd be anonymous too!
    wallabee4's Avatar
    wallabee4 Posts: 294, Reputation: 19
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    #12

    Jun 1, 2008, 12:52 PM
    Sorry, I wasn't getting updates on this post for awhile.

    I wanted to let you all know this:
    We specifically asked the architect who did our design, how do we know how many sheets of drywall we'll need, how much siding, how much electrical wire, boxes, etc? We were looking at the construction loan sheet we'd gotten from our bank and thought we needed to know how much of everything to ask suppliers to give us bids (MUCH later we realized suppliers are used to looking at the plans and giving a material take off and bid all in the same step) we hadn't even gotten to the stage of considering product choices or finishes yet. The architect told us specifically that this was called doing a 'take off.' We had never heard the term until HE used it to describe this listing of how much material we were asking about. He then (verbally) offered to do it for us. Once I found out he'd spent over 13 hours and wasn't done yet, I stopped him and asked him to give us what he had so far. He gave us then a list with the bank construction loan items with dollar figures filled in. I immediately asked him (in writing) where is the list of materials, for example, carpeting he had $750. I asked him how he knew which rooms we were carpeting and with what kind of carpet. (we hadn't discussed it) He replied (in writing) 3 bedrooms and closets and that price was for high quality carpet including labor. I got pretty suspicious at that point. (can any of you fill in the blank to say why without me saying so?) So I asked him specifically (in writing) "I feel like a school teacher asking: please, show your work. You had to have made a list of materials you got the quote on. You had to have gotten an actual quote from a supplier to fill in that dollar figure and I don't care in what handwritten form that might be in, I need to HAVE it as the supporting information of the take off work you say you did. And, if you are a professional, I doubt you have it written on some scrap of a napkin somewhere. I'd expect you have it on some piece of paper and it belongs with my plans and this list you gave me. If you don't have this information ready at your fingertips, then HOW did you come up with the prices?"
    At that point he pretty much turned litiginous and replied: "You have no right to make any demand of me which is not specified in our contract. I tried to provide the preliminary estimate as a courtesy to you and now you think you can demand all manner of things not a part of our contract." He insisted we pay him for the 13.5 hours, put a lien on our property, and now we are in small claims court and I am continually researching (here and elsewhere) this to be sure I'm not the crazy one.


    Please help however you all can, Thanks.
    jimmystyle's Avatar
    jimmystyle Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #13

    Jun 2, 2008, 08:28 AM
    Wallabee...

    I am not a lawyer in any sense of the word, but it sounds like you have a couple of things going on here.

    First, without knowing anything about the actual contract it would be difficult to comment, however, it appears you are paying the architect an on hourly basis - as opposed to a lump sum. Therefore, I believe you are within your rights to ask for some proof of the hours worked.

    If the architect is refusing to give you proof of his hours worked, then I think he could be in breach of his contract. If the take-offs are outside of the contract then he wouldn't have to give you proof, but then you also wouldn't have to pay him - so in other words, if he agreed to do the work on an hourly basis then he should be able to prove he worked for the time specified, and he should also be able to provide you with the details you have asked for. You woulod then have to pay him on an hourly basis.

    Second, it sounds like the relationship has been strained throughout the entire process, especially if things escalated to lawsuits over a simple 13 hours of work. It is an unfortunate situation, but perhaps a solution can be found. The bottom line is the contract will be the governing force here, so make sure you understand which services are to be included in the contract and how payment was top be rendered.

    Good luck.
    wallabee4's Avatar
    wallabee4 Posts: 294, Reputation: 19
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    #14

    Jun 2, 2008, 09:20 AM
    Actually, we originally thought this guy was great. He took our hand as first timers and talked a long-winded talk about how he knew so much about everything. Everything was what we wanted to hear... I even overlooked it when he designed a dryer vent w/ 17 ft run to outside wall (tho I made him fix it, as I'm an ex-firefighter) and I overlooked it when he always pressured us to pay his bill on the spot (tho contract said we had 7 days) as I have great credit and always pay my bills on time, so thought nothing of paying a bill someone had just handed me.

    But... turns out we were just latest in his line of trusting folks who have been nailed by him. We found out--after the fact--that this guy has been grossly overbilling people --quote $3000 and bill $5000--we were quoted $4000 for 1500 sq ft basic 11 pages of houseplans and were billed (and stupidly paid) $6000 when he never even gave me an invoice, just verbally told me how much to pay at various increments. (Now you last post is really making me start to think!) And he's been engineering w/out a license (not simple stuff but things like major open-span trusses, etc. that evidently builders have been fixing on the job site now since 2005. I have one other client I found for whom he billed 'structural engineering' of several hours. And 2 more who had glulams with no means of support. But he's a sole prop has no employees and isn't licensed--or qualified-- for engineer. (yes, we've started complaint w/ licensing board)

    That's why I've been working hard at understanding all this take off stuff. (I even came to read and understand the Precriptive Method for ICF so I could see how we lack support in our ICF home over wall openings. I have no rebar schedule whatsoever.) He projected how smart he was, and I feel bad questioning him. As more and more really unhappy clients start to surface, I see I've been a trusting soul (read as: na´ve idiot) And his stance with all of them has always been to immediately become as one client put it, 'less than cordial' the very second his authority is questioned one whit. He cuts loose one client and moves onto the next...
    jimmystyle's Avatar
    jimmystyle Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #15

    Jun 2, 2008, 09:39 AM
    Sounds like a very lame architect! Hind sight is always 20/20 and it's unfortunate that you are learning this the hard way. These types of situations are always tricky, because your first instinct to trust is a nobel one and is the way it is supposed to be. Obviously this architect of yours is preying on individuals like yourself, and needs to be locked up for fraud or something like that.

    The fact that he has completely misrepresented himself as an architect should help your case. It is actually illegal to call yourself an architect if you are not licensed... so I would think he would be in TOTAL breach of contract on that issue alone.

    Well, I don't have much lese to add... just stick to your guns and the truth will prevail. Feel free to ask me anything else and I will try to help out if I can.

    Best regards.
    wallabee4's Avatar
    wallabee4 Posts: 294, Reputation: 19
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    #16

    Jun 2, 2008, 07:54 PM
    Just wanted to clarify: he IS licensed as an architect he's NOT licensed as an engineer.
    theverly's Avatar
    theverly Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #17

    Jun 21, 2010, 10:00 AM
    Bluebeam PDF Revu software allows people in the AEC industry to perform takeoffs with very little effort. Various material costs can be stored in a tailored "tool chest" and a measuring tool allows for quick area calculations. All takeoffs can then be exported to Excel or a customizable PDF document.
    theverly's Avatar
    theverly Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #18

    Jun 21, 2010, 10:00 AM

    Bluebeam PDF Revu software allows people in the AEC industry to perform takeoffs with very little effort. Various material costs can be stored in a tailored "tool chest" and a measuring tool allows for quick area calculations. All takeoffs can then be exported to Excel or a customizable PDF document.
    adibah0404's Avatar
    adibah0404 Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #19

    Mar 2, 2011, 08:15 AM
    A quantity surveyor may do the take off list

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