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APRIL JLC 1999 Twenty-five years ago, when I estimated my first whole house, I did it the old-fashioned way — with pencil and paper. Since this was my first big project, I double-checked the takeoff totals to make sure I hadn't missed anything. Just when I thought I was finished, I discovered that I hadn't added sales tax to the materials prices. At 5% on $30,000, I had almost short-changed myself by $1,500. I eventually solved the sales tax problem by investing in estimating software that added the tax in automatically. But the near-miss got me thinking about the rest of the takeoff, where I could just as easily have forgotten to price some crucial item. From that