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The Use of Bills of Quantities in Tender Pricing and Purchasing Materials

The Use of Bills of Quantities in Tender Pricing and Purchasing Materials

Detailed Bills of Quantities have enough detail for complete pricing

A BOQ (Bills of Quantities) is a contract document prepared for tendering, project cost control and budgeting, but have you ever wondered why a BOQ is so lengthy, detailed and intimidating? If you curtail the lengthy item descriptions to short titles and strip out the clauses, preambles to trades and specifications, you will be left with a simple takeoff list, but a measuring list is not useful to a contractor who is bidding for a construction tender.

Takeoff Lists should not be used for quoting or as bid documents because they don’t have sufficient information for pricing an item. At least, when you give out a takeoff list, you should also attach some specification details that are referenced in your item list. When you are pricing an item, you need a full description of the size, properties, product code, method of fixing, construction technology and material specification. Otherwise, items which lack specification detail should be treated as provisional. This provides flexibility and room for the contractor to insert a price obtained from past projects or to select an item price from a preferred supplier. However, when too many items in a Bill of Quantities are provisional, the BOQ sum will deviate from the projected value by a high margin, which will result in numerous claims and variation orders during the post-contract period.

In order to avoid an unreasonable number of change orders and claims, the consulting Quantity Surveyor must use detailed Bills of Quantities, not a takeoff list. Takeoff lists are not recommended. They are not recommended, even for material purchasing unless the client has a preferred supplier and contractor they have worked with in the past.

So whenever you see a BOQ with over 100 pages, do not be intimidated. The clauses, preambles and specifications along with item descriptions are there to guide the contractor in pricing and building up rates. The rates should reflect what is contained in the item description and specifications. Without detail, it’s not possible to build an accurate rate. You may overprice or under-price the item, and such a scenario will put your building firm in financial trouble. A lot of construction projects are abandoned due to cashflow problems when the contractor is not making profit in the contracted job.

Takeoff List – has little or no detail for complete pricing.

How to Enter Takeoff Measurements in a Digital Dimension Sheet


When you analyze dimension sheets from different quantity surveyors, you will realize that the order in which measurements are entered is quite different. The takeoff pattern varies between estimators. You will find an estimator with a clear and logical arrangement of quantities that can be easily followed and tracked. The other estimator, the one who will give you a headache has quantities that are hard to track and follow up. Most of the times, the data/takeoff entries created by this estimator has a pattern which is hard to understand or let alone figure out how the measurements were done. When we are talking about dimension sheets, we are not talking about paper sheets that you will find in a traditional Quantity Surveying firm e.g. cut and shuffle method, but we are talking about electronic dim sheets that you will use on a computer estimating program like WinQS or CostX. If you are still using paper sheets, then you are old-fashioned and behind technology. Computer-based electronic dim sheets can save your time and increase your productivity by a large margin, therefore you shouldn’t be using paper sheets in this age. Measurement has gone electronic and already there is powerful BIM takeoff software that can automatically generate quantities from digital 3D Architectural models.

With that said, if you are manually entering measurements on takeoff software, you should follow some basic principles that allow your dimension sheets to be easily understood. Anybody who reads your dimensions should be able to track the various parts of the drawings that were measured, for example when you are measuring walls, a rectangular building has at least four elevations. It might be a simple rectangle or it might be a complex design with several corners. In order to make your dimensions trackable, you have to enter them in a logical order. Start measuring your walls from point A to point B (corner-to-corner) to get dimension AB, then point B to point C to get dimension BC and so on. Do this successively until you have completed the perimeter, to the last point X. The last dimension should be XY. After completing the perimeter, your dimensions should look like this:

Wall AB – 2.100m

Wall BC – 2.400m

Wall CD – 4.000m

Wall DF – 3.200m

Wall FG – 2.000m

Wall GH – 2.500m

Wall HI – 4.000m

Wall IJ – 2.500m

Wall JK – 2.100m

On a digital dimension sheet, your dimensions should look like this:

You can clearly see how the walls have been referenced, the thickness and type of brickwalls i.e. Ext. (for External Walls) has been stated. When you copy the dimensions to another trade or location, you can easily see the walls that are being referred to on the drawings. It’s easy to check and track walls that have been measured, even if you are not the person who measured them.

Dimensions Timesing Column Total Reference Notes
2.100 1 2.100 Ext Wall AB – 230mm
2.400 1 2.400 Ext Wall BC – 230mm
4.000 1 4.000 Ext  Wall CD – 230mm
3.200 1 3.200 Ext Wall DF – 230mm
2.000 1 2.000 Ext Wall FG – 230mm
2.500 1 2.500 Ext Wall GH – 230mm
4.000 1 4.000 Ext Wall HI – 230mm
2.500 1 2.500 Ext Wall IJ –  230mm
2.100 1 2.100 Ext Wall JK – 230mm
Total 24.800


Compare the above dimension sheet with the one below. The dimension sheet below contains measurements which are hard to track or check against the drawings. The estimator literally made it hard to follow up the Dims. It’s not clear which walls have been measured and it will take a lot of effort to determine the connection and accuracy of the quantities against the drawings.

Dimensions Timesing Column Total Reference Notes
8.5 1 8.500 Ext Wall
7.7 1 7.700 Ext Wall
8.6 1 8.600 Ext  Wall
Total 24.800

3 Bad Practices: Describing Items in Bills of Quantities – How To Properly Describe BOQ Items


Preparing Bills of Quantities (BOQs) is one of the tasks of a Quantity Surveyor or Construction Cost Estimator. One important thing that makes a Bill useful to the contractor, owner and other members of the project team is how the Bill items are described.  BOQ descriptions should be specific with relevant information that helps the reader (especially the contractor) to understand the items that have been measured. Descriptions should be complete and properly described in accordance with the standard system of measurement. The quality of an Estimator’s descriptions does not only make a difference in the comprehension of the Bills, but it has legal implications. Misleading, inaccurate and incomplete descriptions can give the contractor valid reasons for litigation.

With more responsibilities on their hands, modern quantity surveyors are paying less attention to descriptive requirements, and this sometimes makes it hard for other parties to comprehend the document.

A Construction Cost Estimator or anybody who is tasked with preparing Bills should keep in mind that Bills of Quantities are not personal documents that are prepared for his or her own use, but they are documents that will be accessed by anybody involved in the project. Of course, the Estimator’s rates are confidential and these should not be revealed to anybody, but the unpriced copy is for public access. The final cost summary can also revealed to the project team, but not the bill rates.

Seeing that the BOQ is a document that will be shared with others, it should clearly show items which have been measured, omitted or measured elsewhere. Clear descriptions, annotated and orderly dimensions will also help any Quantity Surveyor who has been tasked to review the measurements. Although there is a standard system of measurement to guide the estimator, when you analyze the dimension sheets from different quantity surveyors, you will realize that the order of takeoff and layout of calculations is not the same. Dimensions are entered in different ways and if the data is not clearly arranged or annotated this can cause a headache for someone who is trying to follow your takeoff.

The following are some of the bad habits and practices found in BOQs that are prepared without paying attention to detail:

Items Measured Elsewhere Not Stated

In this case, the Bill item includes a component or accessory that is part of the fixture, but the Estimator did not mention that it has been measured elsewhere. An example is a Vitreous china drop-in vanity basin that includes a vanity top or cabinet. The estimator will measure the drop-in vanity basin under Plumbing and Drainage, but does not mention that the vanity top/cabinet has been measured elsewhere (under Carpentry and Joinery).

If you are measuring a Bill item that comes with accompanying components or installations in different trades, you have to state that the component has been measured in another trade. You can include this in the description or you can list the items at the beginning of the Bill or trade section.

There are items which can fit in more than one trade, for example bathroom fittings and sundries such as metal toilet roll holder, metal soap holder, chrome plated towel rails, and chrome plated curtain rails can be measured under Ironmongery or Metalwork.

If you are measuring wooden cabinets or built-in wardrobes that include metal components such as hanging rails, you should make it clear if the hanging rail has been measured separately. In this case, the built-in wardrobe is measured under Carpentry and Joinery, and the metal rail is measured under Metalwork. In your description for built-in wardrobes, state that the rail has been measured elsewhere, and include the name of the trade. An example of this description is shown below:


Built-in Wardrobes (Refer to Drawings):
1.1 Wardrobe unit size 600mm wide x 2200mm high, with 2No. full height 18mm thick veneer doors, 18mm thick particleboard shelves, 2No. vertical dividers, and 4 No. drawers at the bottom, 50x25mm framing support to shelves, 75x50mm framing support to drawers and front mirror size 700mm high x 400mm wide x 4mm thick fixed on the middle section, including 20mm diameter chrome-plated hanging rail (measured elsewhere under Metalwork).



An example of description for Vanity Drop-in basins:

‘Vaal Sanitaryware’ vitreous china drop-in vanity basins:
1.1 520 x 440mm ‘Azalea’ white vitreous china semi drop-in vanity basin (product code 7021) with one taphole including integrated overflow and chainstay hole, waste union, plug, chain, flexible connection tubes, fitted into recess in vanity top (measured elsewhere under Carpentry and Joinery) on and including two fixing brackets (product code 8103) plugged and screwed to wall.



Product Name and Code Not Stated

Some BOQs lack specification detail which makes it hard for the contractor to price the item because the product code and manufacturer is not known. If you are measuring items like locksets, tiles, windows, sliding doors and sanitary fittings (wash hand basins, sinks, mixers, valves, W/C suites etc.), you should state the manufacturer’s product name and code, including the size, method of fixing and any accessories that should be installed with the item.


An example of description for Locksets:

‘Solid’ or similar approved:
1.1 Lockset code “365/A40” cylinder lock with “Solid 799” rebate conversion set


An example of description for Windows:

Wispeco or similar approved standard industrial windows including NBP 2 burglar bars to all sections:
1.1 Window type ND510S size 1511x1559mm high


1.2 Window type NC4 size 1511x949mm high



Describing Extra Over Items ( Main Item Not Mentioned)

Sometimes, when you are going through a Bill, you will encounter an item that has been measured Extra Over (EO), but the Estimator does not mention the main item over which the extra-over item is measured. Extra-over items should be listed immediately under the main item over which they are measured. Listing EO items immediately under the main item makes it easy for the contractor and other parties to recognize its connection to the main item. At least, if you can’t list the EO item immediately under the main item, you should give a complete description that gives reference to the main item. Examples are illustrated below:

Listing EO items immediately under the main item:

In the example below, 1.1 and 1.2 are main items:

1mm Galvanized Mild Steel sheet:      
1.1 102 x 102mm Eaves gutter. m 208  
Extra over for stopped end No. 15  
Extra over for outlet No. 20  
1.2 100 x 75mm Rainwater downpipes m 60  
Extra over for eaves offset No. 20  
Extra over for plinth offset No. 20  


If EO items can’t be listed immediately under the main item for whatever reason, you should give reference to the main item in your description. Anyway, giving reference to the main item is recommended at all times, regardless of the case:

In the example below, 1.1 and 1.2 are main items:

1mm Galvanized Mild Steel sheet:      
1.1 102 x 102mm Eaves gutter. m 208  
1.2 100 x 75mm Rainwater downpipes m 60  
Extra over Eaves gutter for stopped end No. 15  
Extra over Eaves gutter for outlet No. 20  
Extra over Rainwater downpipes for eaves offset No. 20  
Extra over Rainwater downpipes for plinth offset No. 20  


Top 5 BIM Quantity Takeoff Software – 3D Model Based Estimating Solutions


Virtual 3D Model of House

Virtual 3D Model of House

BIM is a process that allows members of the project team to collaborate on the design elements of a 3D architectural model via a computer virtual platform. Architects, engineers, planners and the construction team have to analyze the digital model and provide their technical expertise with a goal of conforming their inputs in relation to the model, specifications, regulations and other fields of expertise which are part of the project as a whole. BIM allows incompatible elements across the model to be rectified before building commences, thus saving the client a lot of money and reducing disputes which normally arise during the construction phase. In this regard BIM may be used as a tool to assess the feasibility of a project in the planning/design stage, because it allows the project team to have a walkthrough inside the virtual model and inspect the elements.

Quantity surveyors are also part of the project team, and their major concern is the cost of the project. Fortunately, BIM does not need an estimator to measure and quantify the building elements. The virtual software does this automatically, through automatic take-off of the project 3D Model geometrics. However, when a quantifying function or auto-measurement capability is not included on BIM software, you have to look for construction quantity takeoff software that allows integration with BIM.

There are a few top BIM Quantity Takeoff software that you can find on the market because BIM is a new concept that is gradually gaining momentum in the construction industry, especially with government projects, for example in the UK (United Kingdom), BIM has been adopted by the government due to its ability to reduce costs, increase value and cut project delivery time. Indeed, a lot of time is saved because a large part of BIM is identifying issues and resolving them, which allows smooth delivery and increased productivity.

The following is a list of some of the best building quantity take-off software that can integrate with BIM:

CostX BIM Quantity Takeoff

CostX by Exactal

CostX is a construction digital takeoff software that can be integrated with BIM to automatically produce quantities. The software is developed by and the company has seven specialized CostX products to choose from. Some of these products for example CostX 2D and CostX Takeoff 2D, can only work with 2D digital drawings. CostX and CostX Takeoff are capable of working with BIM and 3D models. CostX Takeoff will only take you as far as taking off quantities, but the deal is that it’s done automatically. If you want advanced BIM estimating software with full BIM capabilities and powerful features such as Auto-Revise and 3D model quantity take-off, then CostX is the product to choose. There is a bonus for college and university students – instead of getting the commercial version, you should download the educational version which is free to use for 3 years.

Free Trial – 3 years for educational version.

Demo – You can test the commercial versions by requesting a demo

Navisworks BIM Quantity Takeoff

AutoDesk Quantity Takeoff  ( Replaced by Navisworks )

AutoDesk Quantity Takeoff is construction measurement software that allows you to calculate building quantities from 2D and 3D architectural models. Like most modern electronic take-off software, it can automatically generate quantities at the click of a button. AutoDesk is the same software company that makes Revit, a well-known BIM solution mostly used in the USA and other parts of the world. On the company site, there are demo videos on how you can integrate AutoDesk QT with BIM. As the whitepaper explains, the software is intrinsically built to support BIM data as well as other types of applications like CAD and AutoCAD. For costing estimating purposes, you can link the software to costing systems such as US Cost or Innovaya.

Free Trial – AutoDesk Quantity Takeoff was discontinued in 2013. It has been superseded by Navisworks which has richer quantifying capabilities. Navisworks can be integrated with Revit and other 3D modelling software. It’s also capable of 3D BIM takeoff.

Navisworks Free Trial – 30 days  Download

PriMus-IFC BIM Quantity Takeoff

Primus-IFC by ACCA Software

Primus-IFC is primarily developed to work with 3D BIM and 3D CAD models. You can automatically take-off quantities from BIM objects and price them, allowing you to get an instant cost estimate and priced Bills of Quantities that are always current with updates in BIM models and price list. Compared with other BIM quantity take-off software, Primus-IFC has well explained features that will impress a Quantity Surveyor who is looking for a smart measurement and cost estimating solution. The software works with IFC files, a commonly used standard file in most 3D BIM models. As a result, you can integrate Primus-IFC with a wide choice of BIM solutions:

  • Revit
  • ArchiCAD,
  • BIM Logic,
  • Vectorworks,
  • Edificius
  • Allplan

The estimating software also works with a lot of 3D modelling programs such as AutoDesk AutoCAD and 3D CAD. The software can convert BIM quantities to Excel, MS Word and other formats.

Free Trial – 30 days  Download

File Size – 105 MB

Set up Installer – 9 MB

BuildSoft Cubit BIM Quantity Takeoff (2)


Cubit by Buildsoft

Cubit is a take-off and estimating software developed by Buildsoft, an Australian company specializing in construction software. The software allows you to trace over digital drawings on your computer, so that you can generate quantities instantly. You can measure quantities from BIM files (DWFx) as well as CAD, PDF including JPEG and PNG. Integration with BIM is possible with Cubit Basic and Cubit Pro. If you need advanced BIM takeoff, you should get the Pro version.

To price your quantities, you can import pricing data from suppliers, which can be saved as a template that is natively connected to your estimate. Just by updating the prices in the template, the changes will be automatically translated to your cost estimate, generating new figures each time. The Pro version has all the features, including Bills of Quantities, Custom Report and BIM Reader.

Free Trial – 14 days Download

File Size – 58.16 MB

Vico-Office BIM Quantity Takeoff

Vico Office Takeoff Manager

Vico Office is a 5D BIM platform that supports different types of BIM files from other BIM solutions. Users can upload 3D models from Revit, ArchiCAD and Tekla and run clash detection tests. This multi-platform BIM environment allows parties to the project to exercise their roles i.e. engineers, architects, construction teams and the owner can collaborate on the virtual BIM platform for effective project management.

Vico Office has three functions that will be of use to the Estimator. These are the Vico Cost Planner, Vico Cost Explorer and Vico Takeoff Manager. The first application is for cost comparison, the second is for budget planning and the last application is for executing 3D BIM quantity take-off. Since Vico Office is a BIM platform, the Takeoff Manager will be handy for Quantity Surveyors collaborating on the platform. This feature is not only for 3D BIM takeoff, but you can also use it for 2D takeoff and add measurement items that cannot be virtualized in BIM model. To get these features, you have to download the Vico installer which installs all modules, including the Vico Office Suite.

Free Trial – Download

Revit BIM Quantity Takeoff

Revit by AutoDesk

Revit is a popular BIM software for project collaboration and 3D digital modelling. It does what any BIM platform would do, but for the Estimator, they will be interested in creating schedules for automatic 3D model quantification. Although Revit has many purposes, which are based on the virtualization and simulation of a physical building, there are companies which use Revit for the sole purpose of model takeoff. The Estimator extracts quantities from Revit to an Excel sheet for pricing or a costing solution can be connected to Revit via API. There is an educational version and commercial version for this program, both offering free trials.

Free Trial – 30 days Download

eTakeoff BIM Quantity Takeoff


With eTakeoff software, you can complete measurement of construction work on your screen. All you need is a copy of the drawings in electronic format i.e. CAD or AutoCAD file. Open the electronic drawings and start measuring. The software supports dimension assemblies for group measurements, and the estimator can transfer the quantities to a costing solution to generate a cost estimate. Although eTakeoff looks like a standard application for on-screen measurement and semi-automated generation of quantities, it can be integrated with BIM.

Free Trial – 15 days Download

BIM vs. Bills of Quantities. Will 3D Model Takeoff Software Eliminate The Need for Quantity Surveyors and Estimators in Construction Projects?

3D Modelling Interior of Building

Virtual Bedroom – An Architectural 3D CAD Model of Bedroom Interior

BIM stands for Building Information Modelling. There are many perspectives in which people view BIM. It is essential to know that BIM evolved as an architectural design process based on digital 3D Modelling, but instead of the Architect being the only one involved in the design process, it is now inclusive of other parties involved in the project i.e. Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Waste/Water Engineers, Environmental Planners as well as Building Contractors and the Owner.  While others see it as a 3D software for modelling or simulating the real-life physical design of a building, others see it as a communication tool for team collaboration, i.e. everyone involved in the project can view or provide input on the real-time model via a centralized system or cloud-based service. Some see it as a reliable dynamic database for getting up to date specifications and changes to the building design. Still, others think it’s a great tool for risk management and trouble shooting, allowing clashes, discrepancies and issues to be identified in the model before construction working drawings are sent to the contractor. For an Estimator or Quantity Surveyor, BIM might be seen as a tool for automating the production of error-free quantities from live models and eliminating manual takeoff from paper and digital blueprints. For the client (building owner), BIM will be a platform that allows him or her to monitor the design and actually see the progressive 3D visual representation of the building at any stage of the project. This gives the owner control over the design. Since every party knows what is taking place at any point, BIM provides transparency to the project as a whole. Some have compared BIM to a 3D simulation video game where the user can actually enter a virtual building and open doors to the bedroom, kitchen, living room, bath etc, enabling the user to see how the rooms look like.

BIM and the Future of Quantity Surveying

Although automating the measurement of building quantities is something that will speed up the production of cost estimates and reduce the workload for a Quantity Surveyor, it is something that has created a cause for concern for an Estimator’s job security. With the development of auto-takeoff software that can link to a BIM platform, for example CostX, and BIM solutions like Revit that have inbuilt capabilities for producing quantities automatically, people in the construction industry i.e. Architects, Civil Engineers, Project Managers, Property Developers including Quantity Surveyors themselves, have been talking about the advent of 3D auto-measuring software that will make the role of Quantity Surveyors redundant.

Will BIM eliminate the need for Estimators and Quantity Surveyors in a construction project? Although some people think so, BIM or any 3D Model-based estimating software will not kill the Quantity Surveying profession. In the early days of the profession, a Quantity Surveyor’s main role was solely taking off measurements from a plan, but the modern Quantity Surveyor has far more roles than taking off quantities. The modern Quantity Surveyor has a broader portfolio of responsibilities which include estimating,  cost planning, documentation, tender administration, contract administration, progress valuations, financial management , cost control, dispute resolution, facility management, risk management, asset management, contract law consultation, construction firm management consultation and project management services.

BIM-based auto-measuring software will allow anybody to generate quantities, a task that could only be done by quantity surveyors using on-screen takeoff programs or paper dimension sheets. However, here comes the problem – although any user can generate quantities with BIM auto-takeoff, it will take the skill of a professional Quantity Surveyor to analyze and interpret the data.

Accountants as Estimating Technicians

Some people have spoken of Accountants taking over the role of the Quantity Surveyor but what these people forget is that an Accountant does not have the Quantity Surveying technical knowledge and skills that are acquired in college training as well as on site. This lack of knowledge will not put the Accountant in a better position to analyze and interpret auto-measured quantities.

People tend to forget that a full-time Quantity Surveying course at the university or polytechnic is a balanced and well-rounded course where students take compulsory subjects in Measurement of Construction Work, Building Drawing, Construction Technology, Building Materials, Soil Mechanics, Engineering Mathematics, Surveying, Project Management, Construction Economics, Theory of Structures and Communication. All these subjects help the QS to understand the construction process and interpret the items in a Bill of Quantities as well as on site. The Accountant does not have this kind of knowledge and training which is critical in the construction industry.

BIM takeoff software will not kill the quantity surveying profession but it will give Estimators and Quantity Surveyors a new role as BIM cost estimating managers. It will also allow estimators to focus on major roles that have been stated in the earlier paragraphs. With BIM, a Quantity Surveyor will not need to measure quantities manually, a process that takes too much of an estimator’s time.

BIM versus Bills of Quantities. What is the Difference?

The information contained on a BIM platform is always current and more detailed than what you would find on a 3D AutoCAD file. At the same time, Bills of Quantities contain more information than an AutoCAD file. For example, Bills of Quantities contain detailed item descriptions, preambles to trades and specifications. Now imagine that detailed information on a BIM system, i.e. linked to 3D CAD objects, for example walls, floor finishes, plumbing and drainage etc. Updating and making changes to the model will auto-update the quantities and everything connected to the object in real time.

The difference between BIM Quantities and Bills of Quantities lies in their method of production and preparation.

BIM System

  • A quantity surveyor is not needed to take off measurements
  • Quantification happens automatically as the model takes shape
  • Any changes to the model are translated to all connected aspects of the building, no remeasurements needed.
  • BIM quantities can be extracted for costing by the estimator i.e. the user can send the quantities to an estimator for costing.
  • BIM quantities are generated instantly allowing quick cost estimates

Bills of Quantities

  • A quantity surveyor is needed to take off measurements
  • Quantities are built through manual on-screen input on a dimension sheet
  • QS has to re-measure work when changes are issued by the architect and engineers
  • After measuring, the QS has to price the Bill
  • It takes a long time to produce BOQ quantities i.e. several days or weeks

BIM Explained on YouTube Video:

QS Plus vs WinQS – Which is the Best Software for Preparing Cost Estimates, Bills of Quantities and Valuations? – Building Construction

QSPlus_WinQS Estimating Software


QS Plus and WinQS are both widely used software for construction cost estimating and quantity surveying. In this review, we are going to compare the two programs and outline their differences and capabilities. Both programs are developed by reputable software companies based in South Africa, and the client base includes international customers. The main features of each estimating software is outlined in the comparison table below:

Features QS Plus WinQS
  • Cost Plan/ Estimating
  • Bill Production [Module is also capable of Tender Analysis and Elemental Cost Analysis]
  • Valuations [ Module is also capable of Payment Certificates]
  • Final Account
  • Cost Plan/Estimating
  • Bill Production
  • Tender Analysis
  • Cost Analysis [cost per m2 based on Estimator defined groupings]
  • Valuations
  • Cost Report
  • Payments
Cost Estimates QS Plus has a specialized, well structured, comprehensive and clearly defined Elemental Estimate module. WinQS uses a general bill structure that requires build up effort, but you can build any type of estimate.
QS Plus has three pre-installed Estimating Guides – ASAQS, RICS and CSI Uniformat. No pre-installed Estimating Guides
Link Cost Estimate to Bill Items Link Cost Estimate to Bill Items
Auto Rate Build up Auto Rate Build up
Edit Rate Build up Edit Rate Build up
Insert Rates Directly Insert Rates Directly
Convert Elemental Cost Estimate to BOQ Automatically Generate BOQ from Cost Estimate as you work
Enter Measurements on Screen: QS Plus is powered by DimensionX on-screen take off technology. Enter Measurements on Screen: WinQS is powered by DimensionX on-screen take off technology.
  Edit Item Descriptions Edit Item Descriptions
Forced automatic global back up of WinQS projects every week.
Bills of Quantities ASAQS, SMM7, POMI, CSI Masterformat and CPWD DSR Libraries. ASAQS and JBCC-2004 Preliminaries Library
DimensionX Take off screen DimensionX Take off screen
Convert Elemental Estimate to BOQ Automatically Generate BOQ from Linked Cost Estimate
Automatically take off dimensions from AutoCAD 2D & 3D drawings. Automatically take off dimensions from AutoCAD 2D & 3D drawings.
Automatically Generate BOQ from AutoCAD 3D drawings
Take off dimensions from Revit Drawings with DimensionX.
Forced automatic global back up of WinQS projects every week.
Measurement Groups and Linking Associated Items Measurement Groups and Linking Associated Items
Bill Audit – Record Keeping of All Bill Entries & Changes.
Apply a Set of Rates to Existing and New Project.
Forced automatic global back up of WinQS projects every week.
Link Bill Items to Elemental Estimate / Cost Plan Link Bill Items to Cost Estimate / Cost Plan
Customize Bill Layout. Customize Bill Layout. Hide Bills, Items and Dimensions
Preview Dimension Sheet by Selected Parameters. Preview Dimension Sheet by Selected Parameters.
Import Bills and Bill Items from Another Project ( Including Dimensions and Rates) Copy Bills, Items and Dimensions from Another Project.
Create Bills Based on Locations, Sections and Groups Create Bills Based on Locations, Sections and Groups
Insert Bill Items From Library Add Items From Library
View Bill as Elemental Cost Plan Cost Analysis – Project Groupings in Cost Per Area
Preview Bills Preview Bills
Convert Bills to Blank Bills in Excel Format
Convert Priced Bills to PDF
Valuations Prepare Monthly Valuations Prepare Monthly Valuations
Valuations Based on Assigned Percentage, Budget Allocation and Individual Items (valued by percentage, quantity and/or amount to date) Valuations Based on Trades, Programme of Work Activities, Elements, Groups or Estimator defined groupings.
Calculate Progress Payments by Percentage, Quantity or Item Value. Calculate Progress Payments by Percentage, Quantity or Item Value.
FREEZE Contract Bill Data to Allow Ongoing Final Account Measurements. LOCK and SAVE Contract Bill (Quantities and Rates) on Activating Valuations Module to Allow Ongoing Final Account Measurements.
Certificates Report, Recovery Statements Certificates Report, Recovery Statements
Process Subcontractor Bills (e.g. Package Bills)
Final Account Enter Measurements and Re-measurements Including Prices.
Final Account Linked to BOQ
View Final Account in Elemental Estimate Format
DimensionX Take off screen
Print Final Account as Bill of Remeasurements or Schedule of Additions and Omissions.
Software Installation Can only be used on your computer. Commercial Version is licensed to a computer.

Minimum System Requirements – Windows 7 Professional / Business

Can be used on any computer. Commercial Version is licensed to a USB Dongle and Key.

Minimum System Requirements – Windows 7

Developers New Dimension Technology (Pty) Ltd,

Cape Town:
Tel: +27 11 787 5960

Tel: +27 11 789 4878

ACE Solutions CC,

Craighall, Johannesburg:
Tel: +27 11 787 5960
Tel: +27 11 789 4878


Free Trial Downloads Trial Version >> Get It Demo Version >> Get It

Educational Version


Be rest assured that any of these two cost estimating programs will do the job because they are widely used by Professional Quantity Surveyors, Construction Cost Engineers, Building Cost Surveyors, Government  Departments (Building & Infrastructure Development), Oil/Energy Companies, Mining Corporations and even Property Developers.

WinQS and QS Plus Software in South African College/University Syllabus

University of Cape Town – UCT

Department of Construction Economics & Management:

As part of their practicals in Measurement & Design Appraisal, UCT students undergoing the Bachelor of Science in Construction Studies undergraduate programme are required to take off measurements, prepare documentation and complete the project using WinQS or QSPlus computer programs. The project in this case is usually a small-scale commercial building.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology – CPUT

Department of Construction Management & Quantity Surveying:

As part of their assessment tests, CPUT students studying Quantity Surveying are not only required to measure and prepare documentation for building, electrical, mechanical and civil engineering work, but they are also required to demonstrate their competence in using WinQS estimating software to take off quantities and compile documentation.

WinQS Estimating Software for Quantity Surveyors and Construction Cost Engineers

WinQS Quantity Surveying Software

WinQS Quantity Surveying Software

WinQS is a construction cost estimating program for professional Quantity Surveyors, Estimators and Cost Engineers. Before the era of desktop estimating software, consulting firms used to prepare Bills of Quantities on Excel sheets, which was quite a tedious and time-consuming exercise. Nowadays, you have computer software like WinQS which can increase your productive output. The on-screen take-off technology makes measurement and bill preparation an easy task that can be completed within a short time.

WinQS allows an estimator to enter measurements quickly on the take-off interface without requiring to create columns, rows, formulas and formatting as you would on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The estimating program saves time and it eliminates a lot of errors encountered in traditional spreadsheet bills.

If you are a construction consultant who is involved in the management of construction costs, you should know that building a house, office block, commercial property or government building is not a one-time task, but a long process that starts with planning the budget (cost estimate), and ends with negotiating the final contract amount.

WinQS has seven modules that you can use on each phase of the contract. The most important modules are the Estimating, Bill Production, Progress Valuations, Cost Report and Payment modules. Let’s see how these modules function:

Cost Estimate

During the design stage, the architect works with the client to produce a sketch design that represents the main features required by the client. At this stage, there isn’t enough information to prepare a detailed Bill of Quantities, so the Quantity Surveyor has to prepare a Cost Estimate for budgeting purposes. This Cost Plan has to be within range with the actual project cost, so the rates should be derived from combined Bill items.

WinQS does not have a structured estimate format, which can be an advantage because it allows you to create any type of cost estimate based on Building Elements, Work Groups, Activities or Approximate Quantities.  So you are not only limited to the Elemental format, which is the most preferred method of estimating. The software doesn’t come with any pre-installed Estimating Guides that you can choose from, but you can create a user-defined library.

The WinQS estimating module allows you to:

Edit Item Descriptions

You can edit items in the description column, to match your project specifications. In most cases, Estimators will rather edit a previous project than build a new project from scratch which is time consuming. A new project will require you to import a lot of item descriptions, but when projects are similar in scope and specifications, it’s much more convenient to edit a past project.

Link Items to Bills of Quantity (BOQ)

The major items in a Cost Estimate are a combination of Bill items, so the rate is an all-inclusive rate that takes into account the individual prices of Bill items. Linking the two is a logical approach if you are to produce an accurate cost estimate. WinQS can link Cost Plan items to Bill items. This allows you to track the base prices in the rate build up.

Auto Rate Build Up

Linking an estimate to a BOQ allows the rates to be updated when there are changes in prices, for example there is an increase in material prices, updating the BOQ will automatically update the estimate, saving you a lot of time that would have been used in updating individual rates.

Edit Rate Build Up

As explained above, linking is useful for automatically building up rates in the Cost Estimate. However, you can also manually insert your rates directly in the rate column. Rates which are inserted directly in the Rate column cannot be automatically updated.

Automatic Bill Generation

Provided that linking has been enabled and done, WinQS will automatically generate a Bill of Quantities as you measure the Cost Plan quantities.

DimensionX Take-off

WinQS is computer take-off software that is built from DimensionX, a technology that is used by top estimating programs in the engineering and construction industries. This technology allows you to enter measurements on a screen.

Auto Take-off from AutoCAD Drawings

WinQS has a feature to automatically measure dimensions from AutoCAD drawings. The program can measure dimensions from 2D CAD drawings and record them in dimX dimension sheets. You can also generate a complete BOQ, but you will need 3D CAD drawings. The software will measure dimensions from 3D CAD drawings, and automatically generate a Bill of Quantities.

Automatic Backup

The WinQS Global Backup feature will automatically back up your project every week. This is useful for users who frequently forget to back up their projects.

WinQS Bill of Quantities

WinQS Bill of Quantities

Bills of Quantities

The Estimator can prepare Bills of Quantities with WinQS during the pre-contract stage. A Tender Analysis module is available to analyze and evaluate tenders submitted by contractors. This module can show the Tender Adjudicator some critical information such as variances from the tender value, lowest price, highest price, bill cost distribution and the pricing structure of each bid in the form of reports.

Just like the Estimating Module, the Bill Production Module is capable of capturing plan measurements via an on-screen interface. There are three methods of creating a Bill on WinQS – i) Creating a totally new bill from the library ii) Generating a bill from a linked estimate and iii) Generating a bill from AutoCAD 3D drawings.

The following are some of the features of WinQS which you may find handy in preparing a Bill of Quantities:

  • A DimensionX interface to capture take-off measurements.
  • Automatically generate a Bill from a linked cost estimate. BOQ quantities are created and updated as you measure the Cost Plan items.
  • Automatically generate Bills from 3D AutoCAD drawings. 2D CAD drawings are also auto-measured and the measurements are stored on WinQS dimension sheets.
  • ASAQS bill model and JBCC 2004 Preliminaries are pre-installed, but you can create a user-defined library.
  • Support for SABS1200/Engineering Documents.
  • Group measurements including linking associated items.
  • Bill Audit: Record keeping of all Bill entries including changes, edits and new items.
  • Flexible application of Bill prices: Each project can be analyzed on a different set of rates which can be applied to the project. The rates can be applied to a new project in both the Estimating and BOQ modules.
  • Automatic backup of all WinQS projects in your system once a week.
  • Create Bill according to Sections, Locations and Groups.
  • Link Bill Items to Cost Plan/Estimate
  • Customize Bill layout and descriptions. You can hide selected bills, items and dimensions.
  • Dimension sheet preview by different parameters.
  • You can copy Bills from another project at bill, item and dimension level. A whole Bill can be copied to a new project.



Valuations are done during the contract period when construction is progressing. The Quantity Surveyor has to measure work done on site and head back to the office to prepare a progress valuation on a computer. WinQS has a module for preparing periodic valuations and calculating progress payments. The user can prepare valuations on a monthly basis and the work done on site can be valued based on chosen groupings. It can be valued according to BOQ Trades, Programme of Work Activities, Work Groups, Elements or any grouping that suits the Estimator. The common thing about these groupings is that the user can click through to the individual Bill items or sub-groups to value them accordingly.

Monthly progress payments are determined from each/or combination of the following:

  • Percentage of activity completed,
  • Quantity
  • Item value within a location

Before valuations stage begins, the Estimator has to LOCK and SAVE the Contract Bill (rates and quantities). After locking the Bill, the Estimator can commence with valuations – measurements, additions and adjustments on the same WinQS project. Changes to the Contract Bill (dimensions, quantities, items) for example, will result in an ongoing Final Account.

To quote WinQS “All of these changes made in the WinQS project each month, will now be used to calculate the monthly Valuations.”

“For each period a new Valuations report is created that shows BOTH the Current and Previous Valuation amounts together with a NETT amount valued this month or period and the original Contract Quantities/Amounts.

Each month or periods information is saved so that current & previous valuation data is always available and previous Valuation Reports can always be printed.”

Cost Report

A Quantity Surveyor can prepare a cost report on a WinQS project during the valuations period. This report is used for project cost control purposes. A monthly report will show how much the costs have deviated from the initial Contract value as well as additional items, and money saved. Just like the Valuations module, you will be required to LOCK and SAVE the Contract Bill (rates and quantities) before generating a report.

Payment Certificates

Based on the JBCC-2000/CPAP Building Contract, this WinQS module allows you to produce monthly reports for payment certificates.

 WinQS Project Continuity across Modules

It is important to note that WinQS provides continuity between all its modules within a project , meaning that you don’t need to create a separate project or use another spreadsheet program when you doing Tender Analysis, Cost Analysis, Valuations, Cost Reports and Payments.

Using WinQS

WinQS can be used on any computer. The Commercial License requires the user to buy a USB dongle/ stick which comes with a secret key. You can start with a demo version, and upgrade later.

Developers of WinQS Estimating Software

WinQS is developed by ACE Solutions (a close corporation) with offices in South Africa. ACE stands for Advanced Cost Engineering Solutions.

PO Box 411082
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 787 5960
Tel: +27 11 789 4878

Email –


QS Plus Estimating Software for Quantity Surveyors and Construction Cost Engineers

QS Plus

QS Plus Quantity Surveying Software

QS Plus or QS+ is cost estimating software for Quantity Surveyors and Consulting Construction Estimators. This advanced software is for professional estimators and it allows you to prepare detailed Bills of Quantities, Cost Plans (Estimates), Valuations and the Final Account.

With this software, you will be able to enter take-off quantities in a convenient and logical manner that allows you to work faster and increase your productivity.

QS Plus has four modules that a Quantity Surveyor will need in carrying out office paperwork as well as accounting for progressive work done on site. The four modules in the program can be seen as stages in the financial management of a construction project. Every building project starts with cost estimating and ends with a final account. The modules in QS+ represent the phases of a project as follows:

  1. Cost Planning/ Estimating
  2. Bill Production
  3. Valuations
  4. Final Account


QS Plus Elemental Cost Plan

QS Plus Elemental Cost Plan

Produce Cost Plans/Estimates

QS Plus has a module to measure and determine the cost of an architect’s preliminary sketch designs. This is called a cost plan or cost estimate. The program uses a format based on the Elemental method of estimating to find out the estimated cost of a proposed construction project.

An Elemental estimate is composed of the main elements of a building which are broken down into elemental items at the detail level. Thus when you open the estimating program, you should find a sample building project in elemental format. This is a basic template that you have to use to create a new project based on the architect’s specifications.

Depending on the measurement guide or rules that are recommended by the Association of Quantity Surveyors in your region, the software comes with three measurement guides that you can choose from. You can choose between the ASAQS, RICS and CSI Uniformat guides to Elemental Cost Estimating.

So what are the main features of the QS+ cost plan?

The following are some of the main features of the Cost Plan that you will appreciate as you become familiar with the program:

Ability to Edit Elemental Item Description

QS+ has a ready to use estimating template that you can modify according to your needs and project specifications. Each Elemental item in the cost analysis has component details that you can edit to put the correct descriptions and data. For example, you can edit the material specifications – type of finishes, windows, doors, sizes of concrete footings, columns and bases etc to reflect information from current drawings.

Ability to Edit Elemental Build Up Rates

Every building project has its own specifications. The types of materials used, item dimensions and construction technology will differ, so you have to click through to access the build up rates for each elemental item. An elemental item is a composite item consisting of different components, for example, when measuring Unreinforced Concrete Footings, the component items will include excavations, compaction, concrete footings, risk of collapse and backfilling.

Note that these components are actually Bill of Quantity items, and therefore they have their own individual rates. An estimator has to input these rates in the Elemental Rate Build up. For each new project, you have to edit the rates and put appropriate rates that are relevant to the project specifications.

Ability to Link Elemental Rates to BOQ items

As explained above, the elemental rates can be linked to Bill of Quantity (BOQ) items. Linking is a reliable method of pricing a cost estimate because the rates are based on a BOQ which relies on building material supplier quotes. Alternatively, if you have no time for editing and updating the Elemental Rate Build Up, you can insert rates directly in the Unit Rate column, but remember that it should be a composite rate, not a straight rate from the Bill of Quantities.

Ability to Convert Elemental Cost Estimate to Bills of Quantities

Due to the inbuilt linking feature that links an Elemental Cost Plan item to a Bill of Quantities, you can convert the cost estimate to a Bill of Quantities in an instant. This is the fastest way of producing a provisional Bill of Quantities but a few adjustments to quantities will need to be made to fix the discrepancies caused by the different methods of measurements. Descriptions will also need to be updated to show detail as required by the system of measurement.

Ability to Take off Quantities with DimensionX

QSPlus allows you to enter take-off quantities into a dimension sheet which automatically links and updates the item quantities, resulting in an updated project cost. The take-off program is powered by DimensionX. Dimension sheets are built into all modules of QS+, including the Cost Plan estimating module.


Produce Bills of Quantities

The QSPlus Bill Production module allows you to prepare a detailed Bill of Quantities during the pre-tender stage when working drawings are completed by the architect. At this stage, the Quantity Surveyor has to prepare a BOQ for tendering. There are two ways in which this can be done – i) Converting an elemental estimate to a Bill or ii) Measuring quantities from scratch – this involves taking off quantities from a architectural plan and entering them in the BOQ dimension sheet.

QS Plus has the following features to assist you in preparing a BOQ:

  • A function to convert your Elemental Estimate to Bill of Quantity items. Conversion is instant but you have to adjust the quantities and update the descriptions. You can track Bill items to the cost plan and vice versa.
  • A take-off interface/dimension sheet based on DimensionX to enter measurements.
  • Group measurements: You can create groups based on an elemental unit of measurement, and then link associated items to that group. For example, when measuring a window, you have to link window cills, lintels, painting, as well as adjustments for openings (brickwalls and wall finish). A BOQ based on group measurements is much faster to produce than a regular Bill because you only need to measure the group element.
  • Create Bills based on Locations, Sections or Work Groups.
  • Customize Bill layout (Columns, Paging etc)
  • Import Bills and Bill Items from another project ( including dimensions and rates)
  • Insert Bill Items from Library
  • Link Bill Items to Cost Plan/Elemental Estimate
  • Ability to view the Bill as an Elemental Cost Plan showing the items in cost per square metre.
  • Preview bills prior to printing.
  • Dimension sheet preview and printing.
  • Multiple bill formats based on 5 systems of measurements – the ASAQS, SMM7, POMI, CSI Masterformat and CPWD DSR methods of measurement.
  • Convert Bills to Excel format for contractor tendering purposes.
  • Convert QS Priced Bills to PDF for client and architect updating.
  • AutoCAD take-off with DimensionX
  • Revit Drawings take-off with DimensionX


Progress Valuations

During the contract stage, an Estimator will find QSPlus useful in preparing progress payments and valuations. The QSPlus Valuation Module is capable of preparing valuations based on the percentage of work done, available budget and individual items (which can themselves be valued by percentage, quantity or amount to date).

  • You can freeze BOQ data, pay for initial items in the Bill, and modify the contract. The Estimator will have access to all historical amounts as he or she prepares valuations.
  • There is room for delayed/late work to be valued completely.
  • The program allows forwarding of data between successive valuations. As you work on each valuation certificate, you can see figures from the last certificate. If there are any changes, you have to input them.
  • You can prepare certificates and recover money from advance payments.
  • Allows processing of subcontractor data.


Prepare Final Account

The Final Account is prepared at the end of the contract. The QS+ Final Account module can help you finalize the contract amount.

  • You will be able to enter measurements and re-measurements as required including item prices.
  • The Final Account is linked to the BOQ, so you can track figures between the documents. You can easily omit items by selection, and add new items to the Final Account.
  • The Final Account can be viewed in Elemental Estimate format.
  • Like in the BOQ module, you can take-off quantities and enter them via the DimensionX interface.
  • When the Final Account is done, you can print the document as a Bill of Remeasurements or Schedule of Additions and Omissions.


Makers of QSPlus Estimating Software

QSPlus is made by New Dimension Technology Pty Ltd, South Africa. The company, which specializes in software applications for the construction industry also makes related products such as Builder Plus and AutoSpec.

New Dimension Technology has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Cape Town   Tel: +27 21 447 5752

Johannesburg   Tel: +27 11 804 6442


QSPlus Free Trial Version

To start using QSPlus software, you can download the trial version from the company website >> CLICK HERE  After testing the trial version, you can upgrade to a full module.