Sometimes you walk into a project, without knowing where to begin. Sometimes you’ll see so much steel, ceiling, piping, siding, and everything that you almost feel intimidated. And that’s what almost happened recently when I did a site visit for a metal fabrication plant.
Their plant is divided into 3 separate bays. The two exterior bays had already been painted. So now it was time to paint the center bay. But as you notice in the picture above, there is a large amount of structural steel on the walls and ceiling, corrugated ceiling, wall siding (not shown in this picture), and additional piping and jibs that also needed painted.
Now, when you walk into this situation, and the customer wants everything painted, and you need to figure out the surface area, it may be a little challenging. But rest assured. Because as long as you go in with a plan of attack, knowing where to begin, then you should be able to get an accurate take-off with accurate quantities, so that you’re not underestimating your bid.
It’s important to get warmed up. Similar to sports, you want to get some stretching in before you tackle the hardest part. And in this case, the easiest part was the ceiling.
I began with the ceiling because it was sectioned off in perfect squares. And each square had the same amount of corrugated ceiling, and the same amount of steel. So, all I’d have to do if find the surface areas of the ceiling and all the adjoining steel. Once I did that, I multiplied it by the total amount of sections in the facility.
And then, just like he ceiling, we estimate the quantity on a single section of the walls:
But if you notice, not all the walls have the same amount of steel. And if you look at this other picture, there aren’t even walls in every section:
So how do you calculate the total quantity when you have such inconsistencies? Well that’s the art of estimating. First, you find your sample section of wall. This will be a piece of wall that has every possible steel, pipe, siding, and anything else that you’ll have to paint. Then, as you break down all the steel components, you’ll want to see how often they appear in the other wall sections. The x-braces appear in every other wall section. So when I calculated that steel, I multiply it by 50%, because it’s only in 50% of the entire room. And same with the wall siding. It appears in about 80% of the fabrication bay, so I figure out the total siding in a single section, then multiply it by all the wall sections, then multiply that number by 80% because there’s wall paneling in only 80% of the room. These numbers won’t be exact, but remember, we’re not trying to launch to the moon. We’re trying to make sure that we estimate enough hours and enough material for the project.
And that’s the methodology for taking off a large room with steel, siding, and piping.
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