Why The PDF Scale Can Be Wrong

A take-off done with the wrong scale can have disastrous results.

We get at least one weekly call with a PDF take-off done at the wrong scale. The plan says 30 ft./in. and after entering the whole job, it is discovered that it isn’t. How does this happen?

CAD technicians pick the scale based on the property size and standard paper sizes. A 1000′ x 750′ might use ANSI E size (34″ x 44″) page at 30 scale, but a 2000′ X 1500′ site would need to be 60 scale on the same paper.

Despite proper planning for the intended page size, the trouble starts when the page is printed to a different paper size. Take that 30 ft./in. plan scaled for E size paper and fit it to an 11 X 17 ledger sheet and the scale changes to about 110 feet per inch. Horizontal or vertical fit settings can affect the final actual scale. Other problems arise when changing resolutions or sizes on raster based PDFs.

We advise that you always assume the scale is wrong and check the scale using a known dimension of the longest length possible. Property lines are often shown with a dimension.

A video of how to check the scale can be found in the software: 7.Help / 2.Video Help/ 3. PDF Take Off / 3. Scale Check. Remember that with a vector PDF you can choose Get Vectors and “snap” the length of a known dimension for better accuracy.

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