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Simplifying Construction Estimating with Automated Area Takeoff

Developing estimates and bids in construction is a time-consuming process, and it is crucial to get it right. Turner & Townsend’s International Construction Market Survey 2022 found that construction costs have increasingly become more problematic for clients and contractors over the past two years. Survey respondents reported increasing construction costs as their biggest construction challenge in 2022, a notable rise from 2020.

With today’s competitive bidding environment, it’s crucial construction stakeholders have a structured process in place to increase bid speed and accuracy. Bid speed and accuracy is a critical lever in helping win more bids and projects, and can help provide more accurate and competitive estimates to your clients.

Accurate estimates are also important because they can help prevent cost overruns and other issues that can arise during the course of a project. If an estimator provides an inaccurate estimate, it can lead to unexpected expenses and delays, which can impact the overall success of the project. By increasing bid speed and accuracy, estimators can help ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.

In May, Procore announced Automated Area Takeoff, enabling users to significantly reduce the amount of time required to perform area takeoff on large, complex jobs. Automated Area Takeoff is now generally available globally for flooring, concrete, roofing and self-perform general contractors.

Automating the Takeoff Process

At this year’s Groundbreak conference, Procore product leaders highlighted how we’re empowering specialty contractors to make the shift from defense to offense.

Historically, area takeoff is both cumbersome and subject to human error. Automating the area takeoff process helps specialty contractors avoid timely mistakes and rework, enabling them to achieve a significant competitive advantage.

Today, there are commonly two ways area takeoff is conducted: paper blueprints and digital files. Manual processes in construction still remain prevalent — Dodge Construction’s recent Top Business Issues for Specialty Contractors 2022 Report found that an average of 39% of respondents still primarily use whiteboards, spreadsheets and other outdated processes.

Even in cases where digital technology is leveraged for takeoff, such as with a mouse, the process can still be ineffective. Pointer solutions such as digitizer tablets require significant manual efforts for the takeoff process, especially for irregular areas, and can contribute to errors as well.

Applying Machine Learning to Area Takeoff

Fortunately, machine learning and artificial intelligence can reduce many challenges associated with area takeoff.

Pattern recognition has great precision. The technology is capable of identifying unfamiliar objects, even those that are partially hidden. When applied to an image, such as a construction drawing, pattern recognition can gather meaningful information and perform calculations.

Automated Area Takeoff uses machine learning to recognize the outlines of each room while adding a takeoff to a floor plan. As a result, Procore users can now click one button to run a room detection across one or multiple drawings.

What’s more, after the detection is complete, users can select all the detected areas for a drawing or select specific rooms individually. This feature helps to save time and improve efficiency during the takeoff and estimating process.

Building Out a Technology Strategy for the Future

In order for specialty contractors to advance and evolve to meet the needs of their clients, the Dodge Construction report suggests company leaders identify where inefficiencies are present and adopt more dynamic technological solutions to address them.

Best practices identified by the report include identifying needs before evaluating options, developing a phased roll-out plan, building a structured process for engaging key stakeholders and establishing key metrics to determine success.

Procore continues to invest in its machine learning capabilities to assist contractors in putting their best work forward, even in the face of industry challenges and economic uncertainties.

If you’re a Procore platform customer, ask your Customer Success Manager about Automated Area Takeoff. If you’re not a customer yet, you can get started with creating your first takeoff and estimate right away with our standalone Estimating tool.