Who Does the Wood Trim Takeoffs?

Should the wood moulding supplier do quantity takeoffs, or should the customer do it? January 19, 2011

I have been doing cabinet work off and on for the past 18 years, and have decided to get into the wood moulding business. I already have all the equipment needed to produce mouldings, including a Newman-Whitney 24" gang ripsaw and a Weinig 6-head moulder.

Some companies hire someone to do trim takeoffs. A guy at a moulding company told me they never do the takeoffs. He doesn't want to assume the liability if they misfigure. People give him the profile they want and the footage and he gives them a price.

Do most of you in the moulding business do your own takeoffs off of the plans? How did you learn to do that? Or do most of you let someone else do the takeoffs? Do you let the estimator for the general contractor do the takeoffs?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor G:
Trim takeoffs are a headache and the project manager's responsibility. Even if you spell out how you think the trim should be laid out (both standing and running), it won't be how they actually install it, then they'll want more for free. Make them give you the footage and lengths they want. That way, they can't come back later.

You're probably better off finding other shops to work for than GCs. Not everyone is set up to run moulding.

From contributor A:
There are two ways to sell molding - as a package where you take it off or per foot where they take it off. We take it off in Bluebeam so I get a list of every profile and the footage into Excel and then add the waste, do a roundup to material length I will be using and quote X pieces at X dollars a foot. You also need to adjust for outside corners and ship enough for the installer to make the joints.

We also sell to some people based on their takeoffs.

If you do the takeoff you need to limit or have a method to adjust for field carpenter screwups, material that walks away, material that gets moved outside or somewhere else and they claim they are short but it's just somewhere else on the job.

We did a job once where the cleanup guys moved all the trim to a storage room that wasn't being used, then we shipped more to the job, as they were "short." When we walked the job at the end with the owner (who paid for the additional we shipped), he asked why there was thousands of feet of trim left over and we told him they kept saying they were short and we would ship more. I was lucky, I got paid and the contractor got fired. I sold to the owner.

From contributor R:
We run all sorts of mouldings, sidings, floorings, etc. I learned a long time ago never to do the measuring! Material disappears, they will need more and they will expect it free because you measured. I wish we could get together as an industry and agree not to do takeoffs. Having said that, I recently did one for some friends that I have worked for several times. A situation came up and they needed more material and just expected that it was part of the deal. I knew better. Never again. I often make suggestions to customers on how to figure, but I will not be responsible for it. That method has bit me in the rear more times than it has paid off.

Someone suggested to stay away from GCs: amen to that. If they ever think you will do their work for them, they will certainly take advantage every time.

From contributor M:
Stay away from doing takeoffs! Somewhere in the budget process a package price has been used and someone will be responsible for cost overruns - make sure it's not you! If you are going to run a line of stock mouldings and have inventory available, you can price by the lin ft and the customer can purchase what they need and buy more if they are short. They may also expect to return extra stock for credit. If you run to order, especially custom tooling and special order wood species, you must make it clear that there will be setup charges on top of lin ft price for additional material. Also - no returns on extra stock permitted on special order. Be sure to discuss measurement. Are you selling by the lin ft through a meter? Many people expect to pay for whole foot only. If you snip off an end check or cut out a defect, you will pay for it. For running trim you should get paid for what you ship.

From contributor A:
When we do takeoffs we get paid by the amount we ship, for everything we ship. As we are doing a complete trim and fixture package, it works for us. In general it's a tough way to sell to someone off the street.

From contributor L:
Never do the takeoff, ever. Always, always put it in the job manager's lap, period. Now is the time to set your policies of payment, ordering and takeoffs. Take our advice.

From the original questioner:
Thanks guys. I really appreciate the feedback. I was concerned about doing the takeoffs since I have not had much training doing that. And I was concerned I might leave something off and have to give it to them for nothing. That's never any fun. Do you ever have situations where they won't give you the takeoffs? I'm set up to start producing moulding, but needed to know how to get over the takeoff hurdle. It's nice to know that I don't have to do the takeoffs.