In order to know what a line item includes and if we are using it correctly, we need to learn how to really dig into the line items. What are we digging for? Treasure!!! That buried treasure is the company’s profits. The more you dig, the more treasure you will find.
So let’s start on the surface. When you type in a line item, an Item Image shows up. This is definitely fools gold. Where as Xactimate does a fine job describing what a line item includes, they do a horrible job of showing you actual photo representation of what these items are. And in some cases, the photos can be just plain wrong. For example, type in WTR DRY. This is the line item for air movers. Now look at the image. I hope you’re not bringing that dirty air mover into somebodies house…. But that’s not the point. If you add a plus sign (+) to the DRY, the line item turns to an axial air mover. Yet the photo stays the same. Would it be tough for Xact to stay updated with all new equipment photos all the time? Yes it would, and it sure wouldn’t be a profit generator for them. So just be aware, the photos may get you close, but may not get you what you need for justification. So keep digging.
You can click beneath the photo or click the photo to get Item Information for that line item. This can be very useful when determining what a line item includes and excludes. If you are being questioned on what a line item includes, come here first. Take a look at the description. If you were incorrect, that’s ok. At least you know and can make corrections in the future for accuracy’s sake. If you are using the correct line item, you can take a screen shot of the description and send it to the adjuster. Let the program be the mediator. If you are using Xactimate, (which isn’t a requirement, but that’s a conversation for another day) a positive of this program is that some things are black and white. If the description says it, then that’s what it is. But not everything is like that. So if the description isn’t enough, what do we do? Give up???? No! Keep digging!!!!
I’ll give you an example. You send your technicians to a job where a septic system backed up into the home. They get there and it looks like the toilet decided to turn itself into a bidet of sewage…. Disgusting. Trust me, I’ve been there. More important is the health of the property owner and the employees though. Why? This is a Category 3 loss. The definition includes the words grossly contaminated, pathogenic, toxigenic and hazardous materials. So your techs put on their PPE, set up containment, place an air filtration device and dehu and get to work. But when it comes time to bill for this job, what line items do you use? Do you use line items in the WTR category or the HMR category?
When you have a pricing question an excellent source is xactware themselves. Send an email to email@example.com. I did this and their response was relatively vague… but somewhat insightful for a few reasons.
I hear often that anytime we wear PPE, we should be charging HMR line items. Xactware’s response to this was: “Items that are duplicates within the HMR and WTR categories are for ease of estimating and typically share the same assumptions of time for the work being performed; the major difference will be the labor trade involved in completing the task, not based on whether or not they’re wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). The WTR category is used primarily for water restoration/mitigation and uses CLN-R Cleaning remediation technician laborer trained in water remediation. We have the category HMR for hazardous material remediation, which will contain line items specific to this type of remediation (e.g. Asbestos. Lead, mold, etc.)” All of this information can be found in the item descriptions for WTRLAB and HMRLAB. The definition for the HMR labor trade (HMRT) in Xactimate says they would “use various cleaning and restoration/remediation techniques and methods for testing, handling, processing, packaging, and removal and/or remediation to hazardous materials. This may include asbestos, lead, mold, etc.”
The second thing they said that is of interest is “Ultimately, which items to add to an estimate, how they are applied, which labor trade is used, the pricing, etc. would be up to the parties involved to determine.”
In conclusion, you will have to find the justification for charging HMR. Xactware will not necessarily back you if you are using cleaning technicians (CLN-R) and charging for hazardous remediation techs (HMRT). You can charge whatever you want. Getting paid for it may be challenging. If you are getting paid for it regularly, then good! If you are having pushback, this is why. Find your justification for charging HMRT labor and keep up the good fight. This is something we discuss in our Estimating and Negotiating class held here in Sharpsburg. We also discuss changing this labor trade and when it is necessary. Come visit us to see how you can have the most profitable and justifiable mitigation estimates in your area.