Efficiency Tip – On Screen Takeoff: Typical Groups

On Screen Takeoff: Typical Groups

Some time ago, I wrote a blog about electronic takeoffs – using On Screen Takeoff (OST). Today, I would like to share a feature tip to improve your efficiency and speed.

When doing takeoffs of larger jobs, you typically come across repetitive design of some sort. Usually, large buildings will consist of a dozen of typical smaller designs – for example in case of apartment building, you will have maybe 10 typical units that repeat in various patterns. If you are using On Screen takeoff, you can either takeoff each typical unit and copy and paste to its locations in the project – OR – if you want to do it the slick way, you do the takeoff of each unit and create what is called a “typical group”. This typical group now acts as an entity of its own – I like to say it is a LEGO block. You define the block, put all items in a colored frame and start ‘stamping’ these blocks in your project. So far so good, right? You may ask why would I do typical group instead of copy and paste? The answer is very simple: you want to save yourself some hassle. Seriously. Copy and paste is good for a small project where you do two or three copies and you are done. If you have 400-unit apartment building in 5 floors that consists of 10 unit types, you would for SURE use typical groups because…once you have defined the group and copied it 20 times in your job, you can go back to the definition and make any type of adjustment that will reflect in all instances of that group – so in this case, your  20 copies will be changed in a heart beat.

Here is how to do it and some tips:


1)      create a new typical group by pressing “Insert” key – or do it the way you would typically create a new condition, except this time select Style to be “Typical Group” – see Properties window on picture above

2)      name your typical group in a logical way – remember that by the time you are done, there can be quite a few different types of typical groups so let’s stay organized

3)      I like to keep my typical groups in layer called “Typical groups” or “TYP.GRPS” – so I can turn visibility on and off  – use ‘Layer’ box to specify your favorite layer for typical groups

4)      Specify size and shape of typical group mark – a symbol that will appear with each of your groups to distinguish it from regular takeoff

5)      As for the typical group itself, I like to use a line that traces the perimeter of the group – in this case it traces bounding walls of a typical unit. Here is why: when you are done with typical group definition, On Screen Takeoff will look at the contents in the group and will figure out the graphical center of the group based on its extents and will place the above mentioned typical group mark in this spot. So… if you use typical group as a stamp in your project and later change the definition of the block, the center may move – thus moving all copies in your job. To avoid that, I draw a “ignoreme” line around the outer most perimeter and draw all my takeoff lines within its boundaries – if I add more takeoff later, it will not change the center of the group and its copies will not ‘travel’ on my takeoff pages…

6)      For the ones of you who noticed that I skipped the door opening: I leave that out on purpose – because some typical apartment units (in this example) may be just a plain rectangle, with no jogs in the back wall like shown here. If you are placing a plain rectangle in a floor plan, it is way easier to see where the corridor walls are – i.e. where the door opening is: yes, the door is where there is no line 😉

Few more notes:

–          you can set Quantity 1 thru 3 of ‘ignoreme” line to “no result” – that way it will not show any values on takeoff TAB list

–          once you placed all typical groups in your project, you can put “ignoreme” line in a hidden layer – so it will not collide with the rest of your takeoff

–          you should always double check your typical group definitions – if they are correct, they are a great tool but if you were to make a mistake, it will be multiplied throughout the project (but unlike copy and paste method, typical groups can be always changed and corrected and the modification will be reflected in the whole work)

–          typical groups are further explained in OST tutorial videos – my goal was to give you heads up and tell you about this great feature

Martin Horak – Gould Design Inc.

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