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How CAD Software Aids In Drafting High-Precision Take-offs

by | May 10, 2022

Experienced auditors know all too well just how difficult it can be to create accurate take-offs. It is challenging to conduct a site audit while noting the necessary materials manually; it gets worse when you have to input all the information into a document upon returning to the office. And what if you make some slight miscalculations, such as overestimating or underestimating certain materials? The smallest mistake could mean a cataclysmic loss of opportunity.

In this age where you need digital assistance to book your dinner reservation and calling a cab can be done in just a few clicks, there must also be a better way to create take-offs. Fortunately, one such solution emerges in the form of computer-aided design (CAD) software. Below, we outline the issues you may encounter making take-offs the traditional way and how CAD offers a better solution.

Key issues with the traditional method

Not efficient

The time-consuming and disjointed nature of the traditional process means it is far from a smooth workflow. One must first visit the site and do an audit, and since auditors have different data collection processes, there is no uniform methodology. After that, it is time to combine numerous photos, drawings, and information to make the take-off. While doing so, if there is even one incorrect estimation or inaccurate measurement, it will lead to significant losses.

Not ideal for collaboration

Projects demand teamwork, but the traditional way lacks the means for collaboration. It is better to meet up with clients, discuss plans, and potentially sift through numerous documents to elucidate your point. Additionally, there are other parties that you would have to coordinate with, such as estimators, designers, and implementation teams. Old marked-up plans can force estimators to make educated guesses at best, compel designers to redo the designs based on crude drawings, and, ultimately, slow down implementation.

High margin for error

Whether it is overestimating certain materials or missing them entirely, there is a high margin for error when doing it the traditional way. Every item missed signifies losses, and overestimations lead to the final estimation being higher than anticipated. Wrong estimates mean wasted time for the implementation staff and delays in work schedules, which will upset clients and damage your reputation.

Lack of visualisation

The traditional way provides no visual scope for actually viewing the site. Thus, one cannot go into the specifics of objects or locations when explaining exactly what they are referring to. When presenting to a client, it would certainly be better to have the plans in front to aid in visualisation instead of just talking about them.

How CAD solutions do it better

CAD software aims to minimise errors and create accurate representations of buildings, consumer products, and more. CAD simplifies the entire process and makes it more organised; from the materials needed to their measurements and estimated costs. The following are some ways CAD does things better when creating take-offs;

Accurate take-offs on-site and in real-time

Modern CAD software solutions usually come with a comprehensive mobile version, which allows you to create precise take-offs in real-time while on-site, erasing the need for rough drawings and pictures to assemble later. Using CAD, you can easily drop in elements and annotate with extra details. This saves you from the hassle of manual calculations and makes the overall task much more manageable.

Intuitive collaboration features 

Sharing files and other data can all be done in just a few clicks with your mobile device, desktop, and other collaborator’s machines. This enables a seamless way of sharing plans with clients, discussing the take-off with team members, and receiving feedback for areas of improvement. 

Furthermore, these collaborative capabilities also mean everyone can access the project data at any time and place, as long as they can connect to the cloud solution where all the project files can be stored.

Visualising capabilities 

Compared to the traditional method, CAD software lets you and everyone else see the site’s appearance and visualise all the materials required. Thus, it is no longer complicated to explain your opinions to clients, and they can provide immediate feedback. Most modern CAD solutions also let you directly incorporate additional information like text and photos into the design and its elements, which helps hasten your workflow.


Given the precision requirements of creating take-offs, it only makes sense to use a modern process that can provide the level of accuracy necessary for success. By using CAD software and its many beneficial tools and features that proves advantageous, designers and other users can create plans and designs of professional quality at a much faster and more efficient pace. 

Ready to try out CAD for your workflow? Give ZWCAD software a try today for free and explore all it offers!