Material Lists Training

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Where would be the best place/person to go to for in-depth training on understanding and best utilizing chief's material lists for organized, accurate takeoffs?  I have looked around a lot on these forums, in the help documentation, and the videos, and I am still getting frustrated with this aspect of chief.  One big reason our company invested in chief is because we believed it would drastically speed up the material takeoff process, but as it stands now I am having my doubts about that.  I am hoping it is simply my own density that is preventing me from understanding how to get my material lists into acceptable shape, so I am eager to learn how experts go about using them.


Hopefully this is the right forum for this question.  I appreciate any and all help!

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It is mastery and competence with the software and NOT just one of its tools. That Material List tool just measures how accurate the virtual model is and NOTHING more. It measures how well YOU understand how the software works and nothing else. If I have a client who wishes an accurate materials list from a plan file, I tell them up front that it takes three to five times longer to do that over and above what is required just for Construction Documents. It only measures what you did and nothing else.



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I disagree with David on this one.  The Materials List capabilities in Chief are not very well understood by very many users and are a highly underutilized feature in my opinion.  You can actually get a super accurate material list with an exceedingly inaccurate and incomplete model if you set it up right.  The real key is understanding how to control your Material List using:


  1. Layer Settings
  2. The Components tabs of your various objects
  3. The Materials List itself


...and it becomes much more effective and efficient if you can combine the above with:

  • An accurate model
  • Effective use of Materials List Polylines
  • Custom macros
  • Post processing in your desired spreadsheet software
  • ...and a few other little tricks
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Why don't you give us some specifics?


Framing lumber?  Chief's not your engineer.  You must size all those beams and posts, and place them in the plan.  Fireblocking, backing for all the conditions where you need it, you'll model it all in.  Hangers?  You gotta choose and spec it all, and Chief won't count it for you.


Roofing?  Chief will get a lot of things right, but don't expect it to tally starter shingles, ridge venting, step flashing, kickouts, ice/water membrane, boots and other specialties for penetrations, and nails or staples.


If your standards for framing, roofing, insulation, trim, staircase work, and many more elements remain fairly fixed for project after project, you will be able to tweak your template to give good results.  But if you build from plans and specs by others, each job unique, expect a long setup process each time.



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