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10 ways to get precise MEP Estimates and Takeoffs for your projects

A material takeoff or quantity takeoff is an integral component in the estimation process. With more than 45% of the construction costs leaning towards MEP designs, fabrication, and installation, MEP contractors and estimators must assess accurate project costs.

Construction or quantity takeoffs can be time-consuming, yet they are crucial for any project scale or type including residential or commercial projects. Ensuring project profitability through MEP design and installation is the core purpose of estimators and MEP estimating services.

MEP contractors need a precise buffer to project short and long-term costs to lower or diminish loss probabilities if there is a hike in material prices. Depending on project complexity, estimators and MEP contractors can face challenges in extracting a complete list of materials and deriving their cost estimates.

Common challenges faced with traditional methods of MEP estimation

Keeping in mind, the sheer work volume, and sharp timelines, MEP estimation, and takeoff can create a host of challenges. These specific challenges include:

  • Conceptual estimates derived from insufficient data
  • Conflicting projections between various stakeholders
  • Low estimation efficiency and accuracy due to high bid volumes
  • Higher numbers of change orders and RFI’s

General contractors and estimators experience negatively impacting bottlenecks through unexpected cost variations and workflows gaps. For MEP contractors to win more bids, accurate, effective, and transparent takeoffs, and cost estimates need to be produced at pace.

Coordinating large volumes of information to generate competitive bids and cost estimates requires professional MEP estimating and MEP takeoff services. Building Information Modeling (BIM) processes reinforced with effective 3D visualization assists contractors and estimators overcome takeoff and estimation challenges.

While a takeoff can improve cost estimates, other parameters need to be considered like overhead costs, variations in market prices of raw materials, and other expenses.

Top 10 recommendations to gain accurate MEP Estimation and Takeoff for your construction projects

Recommendation 1: Improving information sufficiency through communication and collaboration

Creating large data volumes can be challenging, yet it is imperative for estimators to build strong communication channels to generate stronger bids. A coordinated and clash-free 3D BIM model enriched with quantity takeoffs and costs serves as a single source of truth for multiple stakeholders.

Working on cloud-based platforms drives higher collaboration, leading to greater efficiency as various teams’ access accurate, complete, and updated files.

A project management solutions firm from Saudi Arabia outsourced its MEP BIM modeling requirements to TrueCADD for healthcare construction. With 2D drawings provided as input, the team generated a coordinated 3D model at LOD 500. The coordinated and clash-free model increased collaboration and enabled the client to create accurate schedules and generate precise material takeoffs.

mep bim modeling

Recommendation 2: Factor in winning numbers to achieve estimation success

Fortifying the estimation process with successful historical data serves as a crucial step to building accurate and reliable documentation. Factoring in and recording important parameters like MEP equipment count and dimensions can help quantity mechanical estimators streamline workflows through digital tools.

Recommendation 3: Centralize estimation with cloud-based tools

As discussed above, communication and collaboration are key to improving data consistency. Furthermore, cloud-based tools assist MEP contractors and estimating professionals can leverage model-extracted drawings to save cost and time.

Improved document management delivers an exclusive insight for estimators working on multiple projects and remote locations. Centralizing data enhances workflows to improve constructability.

Recommendation 4: Build comprehensive workflows that promote team cohesion

BIM-based workflows reinforced with tools like Revit and Navisworks help MEP contractors and estimators analyze data across multiple MEP drawings. With complete interoperability across the cloud, teams can easily access crucial metrics to make quantity takeoffs and estimations accurate.

Recommendation 5: Adopting BIM automation to process a higher bid volume

On average, MEP contractors win more than 20% of the bids that are submitted. To improve bid winning probabilities, teams need to consider automation tools for construction estimation. MEP estimating services can draw on capabilities of automation software to eliminate redundant tasks. Reducing human presence lowers errors and augments bid efficiencies.

Accessing information through Revit libraries for MEP components or equipment helps fuel greater precision through manufacturing data and customized dimensions.

Recommendation 6: Embracing digital tools to diminish the carbon footprint

Printing out hundreds of MEP drawings to produce quantity takeoffs and cost estimates can be unmanageable. As the project progresses, these drawings can become outdated and can be misplaced.

Digital tools used to collate, organize, and collaborate takeoffs and drawings are crucial for a myriad of teams to access crucial information. The adoption of digital software reduces project costs, lowers waste, and enhances document and data security.

Recommendation 7: Keeping track of project progress to enhance accuracy and efficiency

Revisions can be hard to track with traditional processes and tools. MEP estimating and takeoff through construction management software tracks revisions and delivers capabilities for cost professionals to revert to older file versions.

Storing and accessing historical data or revisions can help generate statistics or patterns on how costs have transposed over time. Agile cost corrections in real-time can drive higher cost efficiencies in the design stage. The evolution of the bid improves its accuracy and consistency during the final bid.

Recommendation 8: Connect quantification as the project progresses to build a greater understanding of variations

As a construction project moves forward, significant changes are observed in materials, equipment, scope, etc. Organizing quantity takeoffs through software like Revit or Navisworks can assist estimators to identify and analyze variations as the project progresses. With relevant information at their fingertips, estimators can pull up large databases to customize budget estimation to use change orders appropriately.

Real-time quantification also helps reduce the number of change orders and RFIs, leading to lower project costs and diminished project delays.

Recommendation 9: Leave a trail of bread crumbs with a digital takeoff

Making it simple for others to follow is effective and efficient for the overall project. Navigating through past data makes it easy for estimating teams to steer through realistic data by way of drawings, names, links, etc. Using historical information can help takeoff and estimation teams drive improved procurement and purchase of prefabricated MEP components or equipment.

Recommendation 10: Outsource your QTO needs to professional MEP estimating and takeoff services

For large-scale and complex construction projects, clients must latch onto professional takeoff and estimating firms. Extracting model-based BOQs, BOMs, etc. helps clients win more bids and tenders. Evaluating project costs and site logistics in the preconstruction stage drives cost reduction through coordinated and clash-free 3D models.

Evaluating design prototypes, staying within costs, generating cost-loaded schedules, winning greater bids, etc. can assist MEP contractors to make quick and effective decisions.

Outsourcing QTO and cost estimation services can help clients achieve more than 50% cost reduction for a project.


Takeoffs are a part of the design process, leading to accurate estimation and bids. This method continues to drive collaboration and efficiency across various teams for sustainable construction.

Keeping construction budgets under control with real-time quantity and cost visualization catalyzes preconstruction to achieve growth and profits. Using measurable data with advanced processes and tools can help set project success from the very onset.

To gain accurate and precise MEP estimation and takeoffs, partner with a reliable BIM service provider.

About Author:

Harika Singh is an academician and published writer. Her passion for engineering and technology reflects in the in-depth coverage she provides on technology trends. 20 years of work association with institutes of repute across India and the US positions her to provide valuable insights to business stakeholders on achieving scalability and operational efficiencies through digitalization.

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