How to Access Blueprints for Takeoff When Working Remotely

Woman looking at blueprints on screen

For a preconstruction team who’s used to performing takeoffs with printed blueprints, moving to digital plans can be intimidating, especially if you need to do so in a hurry to accommodate remote work.  

But the process isn’t as complicated as you might think.

Start by finding the original digital plans from the GC that you sent to the printer, and then use these tips to get your team set up for on screen takeoffs.

Choosing and Using a Digital Takeoff Platform

1. Check your online plan room for integrations.

If you bid jobs through online plan rooms like Planhub or Construction Journal, notice how you receive ITBs. They may have partner solutions that allow you to download plans directly into the software and immediately perform your takeoff, saving you time.

2. Consider what you want the software to do.

There are a lot of digital takeoff options out there, so think carefully about what will make the biggest impact on your business.

If you’re selecting an online solution because your team will be working remotely, for example, you’ll want a cloud-based software that you can all access no matter where you’re located.

You might also want a software that allows you to convert your completed takeoff to an estimate using your own material lists and then generate a branded quote for GCs. This allows you to eliminate the step of creating an estimate in Excel and converting to Word or PDF.

3. Ask about maintenance, updates, and compatibility.

Some older takeoff software is no longer routinely updated, or if there are updates for desktop software, you’re responsible for making sure they’re installed on each machine with a license. Look for a platform that is continually making improvements and taking feedback from its customers.

Similarly, evaluate the operating systems your team uses. If you use Apple devices, make sure to choose a software that supports Mac.

4. Take advantage of training opportunities.

If you’re unfamiliar with takeoff software, having an expert walk you through it will save you valuable time and get your team up and running much faster. Look at the help content that’s available for the solutions you’re evaluating and compare the types of onboarding and training options they offer.

Consider whether training is included with the platform or is an added cost, what the policy is for training new users later if you add to your staff, and whether you’ll have a dedicated customer success manager you can contact with any questions.

If you’re ready to evaluate platforms, this takeoff software buyer guide can help.

Keeping Your Digital Blueprints Organized

Storing your digital plans is not all that different from your physical plan room – except it’s easier to keep track of things. Even if you don’t have an organizational system in place, your software should have a search function that allows you to both search within plan pages and among entire projects.

Taking a few minutes to set up folder structures and file naming conventions for your employees to follow can make it easy for remote teams to avoid duplicating work and spending too much time searching for documents.

Additional Benefits of Cloud-Based Takeoff Software

A cloud-based software will also allow your team to collaborate on takeoffs like they might have in person but even more easily – each estimator can access the digital plans at the same time, performing their own tasks.

If you choose STACK as your platform, you’ll save much more time with features like:

• Plan overlay, for quick takeoff adjustments due to change orders
• Automatic hyperlinking, for immediate access to related details in plan pages
• Mobile and viewer access that makes it easy to share plans with other team members, such as those in the field

Especially if you’re in a rush to make this transition, choosing your new takeoff software can feel like a lot of pressure. You can relieve some of that pressure by trying STACK yourself, for free, to see if it’s a fit for your business. Sign up now.


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