A lot of things have changed since my last post on this subject. The software has gotten better, and the way we use it has evolved. The last three years have seen a complete shift from paper takeoff to digital takeoff. We are currently using two software packages, Planswift and Surecount.
Planswift was the first digital takeoff software we purchased. It is used in our office for projects of any size, but does not allow multiple estimators in the same project at the same time.
We have been using Surecount in the office much more often since a recent update. The autocount feature is now working very well. Surecount is also used for projects of any size.
We decide which product to use after a review of the drawings. Projects that lend themselves to autocount are done on Surecount, as are projects that require multiple estimators. Planswift’s more advanced manual takeoff tools are used for projects that can take advantage of them.
There are several advatages to the use of digital takeoff that continue to stand out. No more paper drawings is the first. I can’t tell you how much I don’t miss handling and storing paper drawings. We recovered a significant amount of storage space as our paper archives disappeared.
The second is editing and corrections. When you make a mark on paper, it’s there to stay. Digital takeoff allows complete editing and correction to all of your takeoff. Your counts and measurements can be un-counted, edited, moved or deleted as needed.
The third is increased production. Paper takeoff requires three steps; counting, marking and recording. Digital takeoff accomplishes all three steps in one click of the mouse.
Fourth is drawing distribution. We have rarely had to pay for plans since we switched to digital. Most often, the drawings are downloaded from a web site at no cost.
Both of the programs we use release regular updates. The authors are constantly adding features and making improvements. Planswift just released a new version and Surecount has one in the wings.
Adding Planswift or Surecount to your estimating tools would not be a mistake.