Investing in Technology is Important for Restorers Today
For years, technology was stagnant when it came to drying and estimating. But things are quickly changing and there is a movement that has the potential to be the Renaissance or the Industrial Revolution for our industry. Now, restorers can get readings via bluetooth from their dehus, dehus and air movers are getting more and more compact, and estimating is changing.
The. Storm. Is. Brewing.
It’s the 21st Century!
For many years, when it came to sketching and estimating, pen and paper was the way to go.
But in the last year or two there has been a surge in restoration contractors purchasing 3D cameras. What an improvement that has made for many!
Gone are the days of trying to draw a(most likely inaccurate and illegible) sketch on graph paper on a pad balanced on your knee, while air movers are blowing the paper around. I still have flashbacks of that.
Gone are the days of an estimator getting a sketch from a technician fully confident that you will sketch a 3 level home with complicated ceilings and arced walls from the napkin they drew it on. I still have nightmares about that too.
No more saying: “If I only had that one picture…”. You know, the one picture that is always missing!
How can a 3-D camera help with these issues?
When it comes to 3-D cameras, in our industry, there are 2 main brands consistently mentioned: Matterport and Docusketch.
Using the cameras is relatively easy with a little training. The result is a “dollhouse” sketch that allows you to press a few buttons and get any picture in any room you want.
You can also pay an additional fee (prices vary) to have a floor plan or a full sketch drawn in Xactimate that can be plugged into your program. What an advancement!
The images you receive will give you better documentation and justification when negotiating with adjusters or homeowners.
Also, if scans are taken before, during, and after the mitigation process, issues regarding additional damage onsite can be easily mitigated.
You can walk through the home through the pictures and see if the damage was there previously or if you may have caused it.
With 3-D cameras, Contractors are leveraging data to help their companies liability while also increasing justification to reduce negotiating with 3D Cameras.
Why ask if 3-D Cameras are dead technology then?
Do you remember a time when everyone had road maps in their gloveboxes? If so…. you’re old… just joking.
As a young buck, I remember a time on the trucks when we printed out maps from Mapquest. We were begging Jeremy to get GPS systems for the trucks.
There were a few good ones like Garmin and Magellan on the market. You would stick the GPS right on your windshield! If you were really cool, you might have had a screen that slid out of the dash. I did in my personal car.
I also thought I could be an extra in Fast and Furious. It was 2010.
Little did I know that years before in 2004, Google had purchased an Australian mapping startup for an undisclosed amount. That same year, Qualcomm put the live GPS on a mobile phone that allowed for both cellular and GPS signals.
Yes, behind the scenes, technology was already advancing without our knowledge.
As I was begging Jeremy to get a GPS, little did I know that by the time he purchased it, it was already being phased out.
When we got a phone upgrade and I got my first iPhone (way better than Android), there were apps that you could download maps and use the GPS.
It was amazing! No more printing maps!!! Then the more and more I looked at that stupid arm sticking out of the windshield with a GPS attached to it, the dumber it looked.
Now we live in a time where 77% of smartphone users regularly use navigation apps. (Just one study… but who are these other 23%???).
Whether you use Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, etc. it is a large part of our lives.
The future is here
Early in 2020, the year that will never be forgotten, Apple introduced LiDAR technology on the new iPhone 12 Pro and the newest iPad Pro.
LiDAR has been used for many decades in other applications. The LiDAR sensors are actually more accurate than the Structured-Light 3D sensors used in the Matterport.
App developers, including developers in our industry, are chomping at the bit to use this technology. Magicplan has already incorporated the use in their scanning technology. Xactimate says they have also incorporated this scanning technology for Xactimate Mobile.
This is very important and has the possibility to really make an impact on efficiency and accuracy.
Imagine your tech documenting their scope of work and atmospheric readings on their iPad, then scanning the home directly into Xactimate for your estimator with no thoughts of inaccuracy.
Unlike other applications, there will be no delay from awaiting a scan (at an additional expense) or awaiting a floor plan that your estimator will then still need to sketch in Xactimate. Not only that, the sketch will be a 3D model including ceiling heights!
This is not speculation or imagination. It is coming.
So then cameras dead technology?
Nope. Not yet anyway. Until Xactimate releases the update that utilizes LiDAR and is tested, the camera will be necessary.
We’ve all experienced an Xactware update…. they don’t always go as planned. My suggestion is to be aware of what is happening around you.
There is a reason Matterport is investing heavily on trying to get accurate sketches and photos through the phone. It is the most likely the next wave.
In my humble opinion, however, they’ll have to do something that separates them from Xact mobile. Because if you can do the scans on a phone or tablet, get your sketch done, and have the 3-D photos all through Xact, why use Matterport or Docusketch at all? There would be no need for the additional expense of a middle man. That’s a question these companies will have to answer.
Will it be AI capabilities? Or something else? We shall see in the next few years.
But know this, if they don’t adapt, the cameras and possibly even the companies will go the way of the GPS. Garmin is making watches now…. think of that.
As a restorer, continue to look at what’s going on around you. Investing in ways to make your team more efficient, means they can do more jobs faster and handle more work. In effect, that means more money for you! This includes investing in technology. It is well worth the cost right now in many cases. And soon, the cost will be much less.
If you are ready for the changes, we will do our best to be ready with the training.
Written by: Nick Sharp
Nick Sharp has worked with Jeremy Reets for over a decade now. He started in carpet cleaning and mitigation before moving to the construction side as a project manager. He then was the senior estimator for Champion Construction for over 8 years. Since its inception in 2015, Nick has been an instructor of our Restoration Estimating & Negotiating course. His most recent venture is as a restoration estimate consultant. Nick is an Xactware Certified Trainer and also has his Levels 1-3 Certifications in Xact 28 and X1. He’s a bad boy on that sketch but better at finding lost money!