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Material Take off Tips

Material take off can be tedious work that takes a great deal of focus and concentration.

Here are some

Tools that speed up the material take off process.

A Scale Master makes conduit take off fast!

A tally counter makes counting light fixtures and devices fast!

Use a highlighter when counting or measuring so you do not count things twice. Example: Use different color highlighters for different light fixture types. Using highlighters ensures you do not count or measure items twice.


Have good lighting, and a comfortable chair. Turn off the phone if you can. Material take-off takes concentration and it takes time. There are a lot of details you must be aware of. The better the environment you estimate in, the more you can concentrate and stay focused.

Review the Plans

Before you start estimating, you want to get a feel for the job or get your mind around the job. Look at the plans. Look at the details. Look at the electrical blueprints and the mechanical pages that require electrical.

On large job’s it may take 2 to 3 hours to review plans. On smaller job’s it may take ½ hour or an hour to review the plans.

When you review the plans before you start it gives you a more clear understanding of the scope of the job.

Read all Notes & Specifications

There are a lot of details you need to know about before you start estimating. The specifications (specs) might require that you use compression fittings for EMT conduit. It is important you know that so you can estimate accurately. Take time to read the notes and specs. Sometimes you might make your own notes on the blueprints or on a note pad.

Prepare Blueprints

When estimating using paper blueprints, there are things you can do to help be more accurate. Example: Note where there are fire walls or concrete walls are. If conduit runs must penetrate fire walls the estimate requires that you include fire caulking. If conduit must penetrate concrete walls the estimate requires that you include core drilling. Highlight fire walls and concrete walls on the Electrical sheets of the blueprints so you don’t miss details required to estimate the job.

Watch video below of John Kelsey

Price Breakouts

Often times when estimating electrical projects the jobs calls for price breakouts or alternate pricing. It is necessary to make separate material lists for price breakouts and input materials into Red Rhino separately. Red Rhino will show separate pricing when set up properly in separate sections. Knowing about price breakouts allows Dotting Your I’s and Crossing Your T’s means to check your work very closely and make changes as needed. Check your work for accuracy.

Details (On plans)

Look at the electrical details on drawings like equipment schedules. Details show different cuts showing necessary information about mounting or electrical hook ups required. Look over the electrical details so you can bid jobs accurately.


Use take off forms to speed up the estimating process. Red Rhino Electrical Estimating Software offers a number of take off forms you can use.

Take Breaks!   

Electrical estimating can be tedious and time-consuming. It requires focus and concentration. When you take breaks from estimating you recharge your batteries and come back refreshed.


Red Rhino is online so you can log on from any computer with an internet connection. 

The Cost of Red Rhino is $99.00/ Month with an affordable setup fee.

Red Rhino Electrical Estimating Software | 14 Day Free Trial

You will immediately get access to our online software. Training videos will guide you step by step to learn how to navigate.

Call us if you have questions.

888- 492-5565 x 1

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