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September 15, 2020

6 visual documentation tips for restoration contractors

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In our industry, visual evidence is the cornerstone of everything insurance. We work in a fast-paced environment where decisions need to be made quickly and effectively. Providing the right visual evidence to the written contracts and notes is the winning combination that helps adjusters quickly review claims coverage and approve.

Based on Kris Rzesnoski's recent eBook, A Restorers Guide to BADA$$ Documentation, here are 6 visual documentations that help restoration contractors stand out.

  1. Pre-existing Conditions
  2. Cause of Loss
  3. Resulting Damages
  4. Floor Plan Documentation
  5. Contents
  6. Field Reports & Work Orders

1. Pre-Existing Conditions

Documenting pre-existing conditions is by far the most powerful thing you can do at the start of the job to protect your business and to protect the relationship you have with your customer. It means capturing all the dents, dings, chips, and scrapes that the property owner has walked past for years.

As a starting point, take overview photos from left to right slightly overlapping at eye level for each affected room. After you capture the entire room as a visual storybook, you go back to where you started (usually the doorway). From left to right you look for every dent, ding, and scratch. You take a macro (far out) photo trying to capture something other than a mark on the wall.  Then you take a micro (close up) photo so you can see the shape, size, and clear detail.

After capturing the photos, generate a report showing the pre-existing damages for the policyholder.

2. Cause of Loss

Photographs and videos of the cause of loss are critical because it allows the adjuster to decide on what the policy covers. 

Take a good macro photo to show the area and conditions of where the cause of loss happened. Make sure your lighting is good and there is no photo blur.

  1. Take 2-3 macro to micro photos to tell the visual story, to walk the reviewer of the file through the cause of loss. The visual story tells the reader what the room looks like and where the cause of loss happened.

  2. The next photo shows a closer look at where we are going, followed by a photo that shows a close up of the cause of loss.

  3. The last photo should be your best photo, it should be an uptight photo detailing the cause of loss. You might have to take multiple angles to document this. It might be a crack in a pipe, a floor drain lid that is off, or missing shingle.

Read How PuroClean Impressed Carriers with Comprehensive reports.

Whatever the cause of loss is, it's important to tell a visual story. Use these photos to help the adjuster determine if the loss is covered.

3. Resulting Damages

The resulting damages might include the resulting impact that needs to be cleaned or restored. If the carpet is wet it is not necessarily damaged but there will be costs associated with restorative drying. It's important to begin talking about the complexities (things that will make this harder) that you foresee happening at the property. As a restorer, you want to identify things that may be impacted that you cannot necessarily see or that may become impacted as part of the restoration process. You will want to explain this potential damage to the adjuster/reviewer and customer, so the expectations are set.

4. Floor Plan Documentation

A floor plan is a visual representation that helps the reader of a report understand the severity of the loss. The various ways of capturing a floor plan range from hand drawn digital sketches to 3D floor plans & drawings.

Regardless of your method of documenting the floor plan, there are 5 components that you will want to have in the floor plan

  • Measurements - walls, floors, ceilings

  • Inset/offset of the different walls

  • Location and size of windows and doors

  • Notes that might be relevant to the scope and explanation of  the claim

  • Moisture map to show where the water impacted the room

5. Contents Documentation

As a restorer, contents documentation must remain a top priority regardless of the job. Three critical visual categories should be captured.

  1. Great overview picture - you want the photo to represent the item

  2. Pre-existing conditions - nicks, dents & dings, as well as excessive wear or discoloration

  3. Status of the item - restorable, non-restorable, storage

      Image from iOS (2)       Image from iOS (1)Image from iOS (4)


If the item is non-restorable then you will want to add some more information if the photos did not capture it. Other information should be added including the make, model, serial number, brand name, and any accessories or other components that belong to that item and the quantity.

6. Field Reports & Work Orders

The field reports and work orders are the stories that justify your actions to customers. This information becomes more valuable and relevant when there is a dispute over billing a job.

You must provide your staff with a means of documenting the actions of the job that happened on a specific day and specific week or a period that makes sense. It is also just as critical to understanding from staff what supplies and equipment are required to get the job done. This documentation not only helps with invoicing the job but also allows the project manager to determine if any additional resources were used that were not accounted for. These can be supplemental charges that would then be fully justified.

To learn more documentation tips, please check out the eBook - BadA$$ Documentation by Kris Rzesnoski here.

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