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Take-off software recommendations.

Take-off software recommendations.

Take-off software recommendations.

Hi, I was hired by a friend to do grading and material take-offs. The company does ~$20,000,000 a year in grading, paving and concrete work. I use Agtek with Sitework 98. I was trained by someone, who was trained by someone, who was trained by someone that may have known what there doing. I've have been doing the take-offs for over a year and constantly finding I have been doing them wrong(too slow and not accurate). We do not have the instruction manual( I know it only costs~$25.00) and no technical support(~500.00 a year). I do up to 8 take-offs a week with jobs ranging from 5 to 100+ acres. I am almost always behind. All take-offs are with a GTCO digitizer. I do not know if our system is capable of useing CAD files.

We have been looking into updating our software. An AGTEK  sales rep. has come out and gave an impressive demonstration. The department heads were too busy to be there and realy wanted to see a head to head comparison of the old to the new product on paper. The sales rep was unable to provide that. Our area has been going through record growth and we can't even do all the jobs that are offered. This makes the high price tag of AGTEK a harder sell. My friend(head of estimating) wants better estimating software and is interested in GPS tools for estimating and work varification.

My questions are:

What percentage of the plans you get for bidding are available with CAD files?

If you have CAD files how much faster can you get Earthwork and Quantity take-offs done? (Say a 20 acre job)

If you use GPS how has it helped?

All reviews of modern software would be very helpful and appriciated.   

                                   Thank you, Todd

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

We use Agtek Earthworks 3d,to do all our grading takeoffs, and material 3d for Fine grade rock and pave. We get cad files from the engineers or owners about 95% of the time. Having the CAD file is a time saver. What use to take us days to do a takeoff now takes us a day if not less. It really depends on the cad file the engineers creates. We have some that elevate thier line work and others that leave it all at 0 elevations. Either way being able to import the cad file and just changing the 0 elevations to the correct one is alot faster than having to tape down the plan and trace everyline. Earthworks 3D  latest version 1.4 can do what they call AUTOPAD this lets you create pads automatic based on lot line and hinge lines being imported in. there are a # of other functions like this that make it some much faster. This is just my thoughts, others may have a differant outlook as i do.Ive attached the latest version notes for 1.41 released 8-31-05

Earthworks 3D
material 3d

as for the GPS we use the trimble system, to shoot points then bring them back into earthworks 3d. before we would use     
trimble geomatics to import points then open in autocad and connect all the points then import  into agtek. We've done a compare w/ the quanitys we get from using just agtek and using just autocad. and there was a differance of a couple cy. which was good enough for our estimators.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

    Has your company ever considered outsourcing to a consultant?
    I have 25 Years Estimating Experience and have used Agtek, Paydirt and Insite.
    I just started this business a little over a year ago and could always use new customers.

Chuck Redman
Siteworx Estimating Services

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

  Thank you for responding Sitework98Kid, bigdirt and RacerChuck. Sitework98kid the software is not mine to sell. Agtek takes Sitework98 as a trade-in for Agtek 3D. The trade in is about $7,000.00. Bigdirt your reply was helpful and to my points. RacerChuck, good luck with your service. We have lost millions in work because we can't get the bids out fastest enough. But we still act like a mom & pop company and your service doesn't fit. I was hoping for a larger responce with a concensus on a product. I have been researching this, as well as I can. From this site I found out about Carlson Takeoff, I am most impressed by thier website and service. If only I had jods that small and the CAD files had 7 or 8 layers instead of over 100(one my first CAD files was ~28k). I have a demo version of thier program. I think I can finnally see the top of the learning curve. I have met with a sales rep 3 times and recieved about 10 hours of demos and training. All the time I've spent on researh and relearning how to do takeoff's has put me even farther behind.  
  I have convinced my company to buy new software and we also hope to hire help with takeoffs. As I have written, I have had demos from Agtek and Carlson. I have also recieved brouchures/demo cd's from Insite, Trakware and others. I believe all these products will pay for themselves several times over. Because I'm not paying for the software, cost is not an issue, I just want to produce the best takeoff with the time allowed. We are going to take a second look at Agtek. So far my experience with them has been negative.
  Does anyone have a second source for Agtek? Are there any trade shows for civil takeoff software? Besides this site are there any other websites for non-bias (or less than any sales site) help? Thanks for reading and your help.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

Has Agtek integrated with Windows yet?  I found it cumbersome, but that was the version that was out a couple of years ago - I had a day's training in their Livermore office.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

yes they have.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

Racer Chuck

I can barely read the website.  I dont know if it is my eyes or the background.  Thought that you would want to know.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

Sitework98kid- I may be able to help you in your search for a sitework98 system.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

Hi Diacon, I had been using Earthworks and I almost do the same you do every week. I;m not familiar with Agteck so I can not said anything about it, but Earthwork does what you are looking for as Bigdirt mentioned above. the only concern about it is that you need to check very well the Autocad drawing before you transfer the file into your earthwork software. There are a lot of bad drawings arround and you could spend more time fixing the Cad drawing than digitize it yourself. Be sure all your lines are polylines. Hope this help you out.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

Hi,regarding the Agtek im using this for 4 years i dont have any complain on take off but sometime it gonna freeze ur computer, the only disadvantage is when you trying to elevated Cadd files to 3D it take times. Also the Carlson take off we had that one too (3 programs ) pretty much for 3D modelling for downloading our GPS (TopCon & Trimble)  it is friendly user. We had a project here Socal 150 Acres using Agtek for quantity take off compare to Carlson is almost same result not much difference.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

Has anyone used the new version of earthworks pro, does it do a good job of importing CAD Files?

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

"the only disadvantage is when you trying to elevated Cadd files to 3D it take times."nohd (Civil/Environme)

How does it take more time?

We found that our work has gotten so much faster than the old take a plan apart, tape it down then scale and trace every line. On a grading job w/ 5 million yards is not fun when you have to tape and trace. Ive been in both worlds, and the importing and elevating of lines is so much faster and very easy. I have 4 employee's who would agree with me.

again this IMO.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

I have spent 10 years in the surveying and engineering world before I came to work here at a grading and excavating company.  I am not familiar with any other program but Agtek.  Already having the knowledge of digital drawings from Acadd, Foresight, and Carlson, it was a very small learning curve to Agtek.  When I arrived here, they did not run down Cadd files often.  Everything was digitized in.  This process worked, but if you had a subdivision that was spread out on different sheets, it was a slow process.  I always request a Cadd file now, and when I receive it, it is just a matter of a few key strokes to join all your existing and proposed grade lines.  After that, you just click and enter an elevation, pretty easy process.  If you are the least little bit familiar with digital file, it is a very easy transition to Agtek.  Just my two cents worth, hope it helps.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

Are you fimiliar w/ the F8 function when entering
consecutive line info? ie. contours.

If not ill attempt to lead you in the right direction.
i turn on my plus marks so i can see where the points are in the contours & always click on a point NOT THE LINES BETWEEN POINTS.
start by changing two consecutive contour lines to entered lines. ie. 250 & 252 (if working intervals of 2 ft) then deselect all lines by pressing ESC.  place your mouse over the 1st entered contour. ie.250 then click F8 this will hilight that line, next move the mouse arrow over the next entered contour. ie 252. and hit F8 this will hilight that line, now move the mouse over the next contour and click F8, not only will this hilight it but wil change from ANNO to Entered and  give it a value of 254, move mouse over next contour and click F8 gives you a countour Entered @ 256 value. you continue this till you have all contours done.

Hope this helps if you dont know already.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

I am new to Agtek myself, so that is alot of help.  Thanks for the info.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

I was hired to do takeoffs and other misc. items around our office just over a year ago.  When I first arrived we had a late 1990's version of Earthworks, it was digitizer only.  After 6 months or so of being here I did some research and found that there was much better software out there.  I looked at Carlson Takeoff, I think it would be great for someone with CAD experience and I do like the drawing and edit functions that it allows.  We settled on Agtek EW3D, and since I have been using it, the amount of jobs I now estimate quantities on has doubled and I can do them in half the time.  I think another good feature of Agtek is it's printing capabilities with color maps and 3D models, it's a great presentation tool when selling your company to a potential client.  I have had good luck in using AGTEK, support always responds timely and has always worked with me to figure out my problems.
I am an agtek fan.


RE: Take-off software recommendations.

try two programs one Earthworks for 4500.00 from csp group
the 2nd is Carlson Takeoff for 9000.00

the former is simple to use and is accurate and quick
the later is cad based and requires some intelligence...but has seemless integration to gps and field work.

Andy Portale

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

DO NOT USE AGTEK....It is the shadiest program of all time.  But if you are going to use any Agtek program you HAVE to pay for the support.  I know what I'm doing in Agtek, yet I end up contacting support constantly due to the inadaquices of the program.  

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

momozzz (Civil/Environme)      
11 Apr 07 13:59
DO NOT USE AGTEK....It is the shadiest program of all time.  But if you are going to use any Agtek program you HAVE to pay for the support.  I know what I'm doing in Agtek, yet I end up contacting support constantly due to the inadaquices of the program.  

Can you let me know what makes it shady? what sort of problem have you contacting support constantly?  thanks, just wonder what other users go through.

RE: Take-off software recommendations.

from my experience, the owner/engineer always specifies that the cad files must not be relied upon for such things...so you're using it at you're own risk.
as far as gps, it is not usually very reliable for elevation unless you invest in very expensive systems. however, for rough figures, usgs does provide 3d elevation data just about anywhere. currently, the 1/3 arc data is accurate to 10' if i'm not mistaken. 1/9 arc data is currently in progress which is good to 3' but it is very limited. go to www.usgs.gov and go to the bottom left, scroll down, and click on seamless data. i suggest you read the faq section since most computer setting will mess up accessing the data. the data can be downloaded and manipulated (even pulled out to generate a topo map and put in to you gps).
for quantities, i generally use spreadsheet and area squares. plug in the cut/fill depths and it will approximate pretty well. basically, grid the site, pull the exising elevations at some point, plug in the finish elevation and calculate the quantities based on that. use smaller areas for better approximations. this may not really be practical for very large sites but it might be quicker than what it takes to get cad files and if there are errors, it would at least be a good check. this method has saved one of my clients 20,000 cy of extra blast rock pay since the blaster used a swanky 3d program and ended up with twice as much rock as i did on the first blast. my method was correct (and simple).

RE: Take-off software recommendations.


Shoot me an email when you get a chance.

Bart Saucier

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