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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not too many years ago, the local Lowes started charging for take-offs on house plans. Of course, that dropped their commercial sales. They now do them again for free, for established contractors.

Today, I stopped at an OKC lumber yard that has been calling on me to sell windows and get my business....and I had a set of plans with me for a 4400 sq/ft custom...the guy on the counter said $50 to do a material take-off and they would refund it if I bought from them.

I must have looked shocked :eek: and told him as soon as I find a way to charge a new home customer to give a price on a new home, I might pay them for the chance to earn my business. In other words, no, and tell your sales people to lose my number, we won't be doing business.

Anyone else pay for take-offs?
 

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stacker of sticks
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I do my own, because everyone does them different, but both yards I do business with do them for free. One of them offers free prints if you buy the lumber from them. They have like 30 different ones to pick from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It's a great idea, to pass long no more free estimates. I think it's great.
Not to beat the "free estimate" vs. charge for estimates point, we are talking about half a million dollar projects. We are talking about a company setting up a booth our our State Home Builder's Association and soliciting business from builders...and then, when I take the time to give them a shot at a project, they pull the $50 routine.

Two things: I don't do business in OKC very often....so it would be easier to use a lumber yard a mile from the new home, and since I had already done my basic take off, I use their take off to check my numbers, establish pricing, and get them familiar with my project.

And...what is funny, I had every intention of not pricing this one out to other yards, because their sales guys had talked me into their shop, based on service....... uh huh.

It ain't the $50. It is the principal. Probuild and a local 30 miles away was more then happy...like very happy to give me a quote on the entire home, right down to the nails.
 

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The Ultimate Wire Hider
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It's been my experience that people tend to have a "robotic" mindset when it comes to issues like this and they fail to connect the dots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The company sales rep called me today and apologized....asked for a chance to do the take-off for me and wanted to work with me. Expedited service....so I am e-mailing them the pdf plan...let them do it the hard way. Full size prints waled out the door with me.
 

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Out of town a couple of times yards that didn't know me tried to run the charge for take off game. When they found out I was seriously shopping they did the take off for free.

They sure have cut down on the amount of pencils they give out...:laughing:
 

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I don't see why they would risk running off customers for a measly 50 bucks.

Although, I do know they sometimes get frustrated with people using them for the takeoff and then buying lumber elsewhere.

I do my own takeoffs, especially on bigger projects, then send my list to a couple or three yards. They all quote the same list and same materials, and I take the cheapest. Kind of funny sometimes when I tell them I'm not going to buy from them and they offer a lower price. Too late, dude. Next time give me your best price first.
 

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I've never had the yard do a take off that was worth a shiz. I'd be 200 studs heavy, 200 studs light, 30 pieces of 1x4- what the hell is the 1x4 for? I broke down and let em do the take off for my parade home- first one I let em do in a long time- I went over 8k on framing material. From now on I do my own- period. Really when you think about it- what the hell does a salesman know about how to frame a house? That's like me tryin to put together a list of parts to assemble a rocket ship.
 

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Ninjaframer said:
I've never had the yard do a take off that was worth a shiz. I'd be 200 studs heavy, 200 studs light, 30 pieces of 1x4- what the hell is the 1x4 for? I broke down and let em do the take off for my parade home- first one I let em do in a long time- I went over 8k on framing material. From now on I do my own- period. Really when you think about it- what the hell does a salesman know about how to frame a house. That's like me tryin to put together a list of parts to assemble a rocket ship.
I totally agree with this, they can't be trusted. It's done by someone that's probably never framed a house before in there life. When we frame a home we buy our lumber in stages so the take off is done incrementally. We get close when we do the bid. But for actually landing material it's done in stages. We do get our engineered materials figured out in order to get it when we need it.
 

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Californiadecks said:
I totally agree with this, they can't be trusted. It's done by someone that's probably never framed a house before in there life. When we frame a home we buy our lumber in stages so the take off is done incrementally. We get close when we do the bid. But for actually landing material it's done in stages. We do get our engineered materials figured out in order to get it when we need it.
I do the same- basement package delivered, then main floor, roof, etc. that way they don't bury my basement lumber under the roof sheeting :) The outside salesman do most of the take offs at the yard I use. There usually at least two weeks behind and after this last one that cost me 8k I wouldn't trust them to figure the lumber package on a dog house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So why let them do a take-off?

I use a baseline number to do estimates with, something like $13 to $19 a sq/ft for material, plus interior doors, trim, rock, door knobs...all of it. When the budget is tight, this number lets us know what the outlook it.

I understand many don't do this my way, but in your past builds, take a look at the cost per square foot for the materials you used, and then see how much you actually vary. Many of my builds average $13 a square foot including trusses and decking to windows and doorknobs.
 

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The sad fact is that most small contractors can't do take-off as well as the guy on the desk at the lumberyard.
This is one of many reasons why guys fail in running a business.

I used yard takeoffs to check my own. I then produced my material list as well as how the order was to be loaded for bid.

Usually Yard guys bid straight by lineal, square & board feet. They aren't concerned as to how the pieces will be used or specific lengths needed for best efficiency. My material list was coded on my plans so when it got down to building the project I knew where I had figured what to be used where.
 

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The sad fact is that most small contractors can't do take-off as well as the guy on the desk at the lumberyard.
I just cant understand how that would be possible. How the hell can you build something if you cant figure the material accurately?

I do my take offs when I do a cut list for my hands. I give a ball park that is usually very close to the actual numbers if not the actual number before I do the bid and material take off. Rarely end up wasting time that way.
 
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