Are You Using the Correct Amount of Justification?


“We absolutely PACK our estimates with F9 notes.”


Now, that can be a good thing. But it can also be a bad thing. Why? Let’s take a small detour and briefly talk about the s500.

Have you read the IICRC s500 from cover to cover? It’s understood that everyone should read it and that being well-versed in the IICRC s500 will without a doubt make your company more profitable… But, why don’t most read the entire IICRC s500? Because it is long, boring, and very wordy!


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However, what if you had an IICRC s500 reference guide that highlighted the most important items for you from the IICRC s500? What if this reference guide is only a few pages long and cuts out the portions of the IICRC s500 that you don’t handle. On top of that, it also translates the IICRC s500 language into something you can understand. Would you read and use that? Most of us would. The same is true of your estimate.


Highlight Key Points

An adjuster wants to have the important things picked out for them and made apparent. That is the purpose of F9 notes, to expand Xactimate’s line item descriptions when necessary. If we are overloading the adjuster with more F9 notes than they can handle, the notes will lose all potential impact or worse, be left unread and completely ignored.

Your notes should answer the questions an adjuster would have with the goal of preventing any unnecessary calls from them.

Allow your notes to shine. Use F9 to explain why we have done something. But understand that there is no need to explain EVERYTHING. Explaining why we extracted? Not necessary. Explaining why we have extracted 3 times? That may be a good thing. It needs an explanation because it may throw up a red flag or may have previously received pushback.


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If your estimator is taking an extensive amount of time writing or inputting notes into each line item and they are still having to field calls from an adjuster asking or explanations, then the notes weren’t effective. You have now just wasted their time and effort.

Think about the imaginary IICRC s500 reference guide we mentioned earlier with personally relevant information highlighted, presented in an easy to understand way.  Now think about an estimate with relevant information highlighted and easily understandable. Having such an estimate will no doubt provide value and will aid your negotiations.


Balance Is Key


Having no notes at all or too few notes isn’t good either! You want your estimate to tell the story for you. Explaining why you needed additional labor hours to complete your containment or even your labor hours for moving contents, if necessary, are good ways to avoid a phone call from an adjuster. When using notes in your estimate, like everything, it is good to be balanced. Your notes should provide clarification for the adjuster. Using IICRC s500 quotes that include chapter, page number, etc will help justify items and once again take these items from being professional opinion to being standard to all involved in the claims process.

Effectively using notes, photos and sketch to justify your claim will make getting paid much easier! Make your notes count when you use them. 

nick sharp xactimate course

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 is also has his Level 3 Certifications in Xact 28 and X1. He’s a bad boy on that sketch but better at finding lost money!


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