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Plumbing Estimating Made Easier and More Affordable with Cloud Take Off
Well I’m back from a hiatus with guns blazing. Thank you to all of our readers for your patience and continuing to read our articles. For those of you who don’t know I’m always trying to help both the consumer and professional with their plumbing related issues. So that brings us to the subject matter at hand. I received an email from www.cloudtakeoff.com outlining a cloud based plan reading and take off program. So being a curious fella I clicked the link and watched the demo and was pleasantly surprised. So I dug a bit deeper and I came to a pricing page where I thought I saw pricing in the range of $7,600.00 per year. Well I wasn’t going to let this new fangled Cloud Takeoff company rip its customers off so I fired off an email telling them (I’m paraphrasing so stay with me) that while I loved their concept I hated their pricing structure and that not many small plumbing contractors would have that kind of money to throw around for an estimating program, let alone for a program they don’t own. There, I told them right? Well my phone rang the very next day with a gentleman by the name of Phil Ogilby on the other end of the line. Phil happens to be the Owner and developer of Cloud Takeoff. He said “Sean while I’m glad you like our program you are off by quite a bit with regards to pricing”. The price for one user license is $640.00 per year and for two users that can operate the program simultaneously it’s $990.00 per year. I caught myself before falling off the chair. Can we all agree right here that never before has there been a takeoff program with this much power to be had for $82.50 per month? It’s down right affordable and I wanted to know more so Phil and I agreed to speak again where I could take it through it’s paces.
Founder of Cloud Takeoff Has Been Here Before
Before I get into the details let me give you some background on Phil Ogilby. Phil founded www.isqft.com in 1999. www.Isqft.com is an on-line bid management tool, that facilitates plan distribution among Owners, Architects, GCs and Sub Contractors. Phil sold the company several years ago to develop Cloud Takeoff. Suffice to say this isn’t Phil’s first rodeo when it comes to managing plans on-line, this is a natural extension of Mr. Ogilby’s vision; to make it easier and more affordable for contractors to do the dirty work of estimating.
Cloud Estimating : How to Takeoff Plumbing Pipe Valves and Fittings
So how does it work you ask? Well upon firing Cloud Takeoff you are taken to the estimate schedule screen where you can see all of the projects you currently have active unless you are using it for the first time in which case you will have an open schedule. If you have multiple users with multiple projects you can look at and access all of them if you are the admin for the account. Each user has a specific color associated with their projects so they are easy to track. It is at this screen where you can upload files and documents like project manuals, specifications and contracts as well the most important thing…….. drawings.
Once the drawings are uploaded you can begin to do your takeoff. I won’t go into fine details like rotating drawings and excluding certain drawings that aren’t relevant to your bid however I will say that regardless of how many drawings you upload you can simply turn off the unwanted drawings by clicking on the files to the left of the visible thumbnails.
So you’ve got the project uploaded and you’re ready to begin your takeoff. You then have to pan in on the drawing you’re using and select what it is you’re measuring. There are preset “Conditions” applicable to plumbing but they are basic and most plumbing estimators will want to add their own conditions i.e., Waste Piping, Vent Piping, Water Piping then add in appropriate sizes and materials. You can also take off fixtures by selecting the shapes highlighting function. You can choose a circle/ellipse and drag the ellipse over a toilet or round lavatory, add a condition and it will count those for you. When you are finished you can export that data to any Excel estimate spreadsheet you have pre-made. I’ll write a bit more about that in second.
The Verdict is in, Cloud Takeoff is a Winner
So what is the verdict? Cloud Takeoff is an incredibly powerful takeoff program that tries to be valuable to every trade. What excites me most about Cloud Takeoff, it has almost limitless potential especially when it comes to collaboration, for instance, I could design a plumbing takeoff template (hint, hint, hint) that I believe through my 20 years of experience would be very powerful for most small to medium sized firms. I could choose to share it with all plumbers signed up to use Cloud Takeoff. Let’s take this to another level and to some degree it’s being done, let’s say you’ve created a kick butt Excel spread sheet that compiles you’re plumbing takeoff data, extends pricing, allows you to add inclusions, exclusions and add overhead, profit, etc. and spits it out in a nice orderly fashion. You can sell that spread sheet on another of Phil’s sites and that spreadsheet will integrate seamlessly with takeoffs done in Cloud Takeoff. The possibilities are endless. There is no doubt the program has some holes, for instance it’s got no pre-programed way to assign parameters for hanger assemblies or consumables like lead, oakum and gas or solder, flux, PVC Primer and PVC Cement. Phil has assured me those features are coming. Another thing that I would put on my wish list would be a feature to add valves to water piping or to add mechanical equipment, there is a work around but it doesn’t feel natural. However even with a few of the drawbacks this is a program all small mechanical contractors can use especially if you have no other estimating software and you can do it for a very affordable price.
I hope you enjoyed and I certainly hope you give Cloud Takeoff a try.