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Are You Including Ceilings In Your Sketches?

“We don’t ever sketch anything.” 
“We don’t change the ceilings in our sketch.” 

Have you ever said these things before? Many people have. Why put forth the effort to accurately sketch a property, including all offsets and ceilings, and present it to the adjuster when tons of other contractors get paid without giving this information? Besides, adjusters don’t technically NEED the information, right? Well… Consider this:

Have you ever had an adjuster angrily exclaim: “You’ve got too much equipment in this place!”? Before going any further with this scenario, I want to ask one question: Did you calculate your air movement or did you just walk in and place air movers, guesstimating based on experience? When asked to guess how many air movers a given space needs, restorers answers vary widely. However, according to the IICRC s500, restorers should install 1 air mover in every affected room. Additionally, restorers should add 1 air mover for every 50-70 sq ft of affected wet floor in each room100-150 sq ft of affected wet ceiling and wall area above 2 feet and every wall inset or offset greater than 18 inches.

Our suggestion? Use the standard. Not only will it take the guess work out of your mitigation job but is also easily justified in your estimates or invoices. How?

If your sketch is accurate to the inch with all offsets included, doing the math for the adjuster will be easy. Even if they don’t do it, you can show them how you calculated it and reference the air mover standards of quantity (13.5.6.1). This takes the negotiations out of professional opinion (yours or the adjusters) and puts it into a conversation about standards. It is what you are supposed to do. This will help your justification.


What about ceilings? Why would you include them in your sketch? In order to have accurately measure cfm, you need to measure length, width and height. This measurement will help determine the equipment usage for both dehumidifiers and air filtration devices. No doubt, you are calculating this by either an app or some other means.

Consider this: if you needed to calculate the length, width and height at a minimum to help determine your equipment usage, doesn’t the adjuster need at least that information to justify the charges? If we aren’t providing this info, we are handcuffing ourselves and throwing up red flags for claims handlers. If we are getting pushback on our dehus or afds, could it be that our sketch was not accurate? We didn’t give them the info. So we can’t get mad for being questioned.

Regardless of whether you are using Xactimate, Xactimate Mobile, magicplan, Matterport, or pencil and paper, sketching a property accurately is an important part of documenting the claim and will help you justify your charges. So, train whoever is doing the sketches to do it accurately. If your techs are sketching, train them to do accurate sketches and give the person negotiating a level playing field when justifying charges.

Want Xactimate, estimating, and negotiating training for your estimator(s) and/or technician(s)? Check out our 4-day Estimating and Negotiating Plus course!