Do you know the asbestos testing requirements in your local jurisdiction? In the state of Washington, if you read the LNI (Labor and Industries) regulations, the letter of the law requires everything, regardless of age, to be tested for asbestos prior to demolition or remodeling. This would apply to water and fire damage scenarios where materials such as wet drywall are being removed.
As a contracts you want to do your best to:
Test for lead and asbestos before you do any work
It must be understood that these regulations are not suggestions, they are the law and compliance is mandatory. Many restoration contractors are adhering to high standards and best practices, yet they encounter pushback from insurance representatives or clients who are unaware of these compliance factors. Homeowners, adjusters, and property managers will benefit from documentation that educates them on the responsibilities of all parties to adhere to testing requirements.
I was discussing this with a local mitigation contractor who was being questioned by a representative from the insurance company on a claim. It may be that this person has never heard of these laws or encountered a contractor charging for them, so we forwarded this citation from LNI in Washington,
“Building owners and construction contractors both share responsibility for asbestos testing when doing work on the building. A good faith inspection for asbestos, performed by an AHERA certified building inspector is required before any remodel, repair, removal, or other work that could disturb suspect materials.”
Educate homeowners and property managers on their responsibilities
Previously we wrote more extensively on this topic for an article in Restoration and Remediation (R&R) Magazine on the responsibilities of property owners, property managers, and contractors. You may find that content helpful in your efforts to educate various parties during an insurance claim.
For additional reference, see the picture attached to this article which was taken at our local landfill in Puyallup, WA. The landfill requires proof of clearance following asbestos testing prior to being able to dispose of worksite debris.
Are you interviewing for an open project management position? What questions can you ask that will help you determine if this candidate has the potential to add to your unique culture, serve your clients with an excellent experience, and bring projects in on budget? We have been working through six key questions that we believe will help you get a well-rounded perspective on whether you have the right candidate for your organiztion.
Project Manager Interview Question #1
Our experience and our target audience is owners and managers in the property restoration industry. Many of these questions are readily adapted to project management in any of the disciplines in the skilled trades. You can learn more about developing your project management process, skills, and tools for development in Jon Isaacson's book - So, You Want To Be A Project Manager?
The first question is designed to spark conversation, it is not meant to be a trick question or a trap for the candidate. We want to know what this person knows about the insurance claims process, as it is unique to the property restoration industry.
When we interview carpenters, we ask them to rate themselves on the skills and tasks that we will have them perform. For example, we would ask a candidate to rate themselves in experience and comfort with some of the following:
We have found that structuring our interview in this manner keeps us consistent in the process and facilitates a conversation with the candidate to get an idea of what scenarios they have been in and which capabilities fall within their areas of greatest competency. Most professionals have strengths and weaknesses, so we want to discuss those so we know where this person can immediately step in to help our team and what skills we can help them to develop.
Help Your Team Members Grow Their Skillsets
Growth is a two-way street, we can help them grow by pairing them with team members who can expand their skillsets and our team will grow by having them bolster our workforce. With as much emphasis as business persons place on recruitment and hiring, it is important for intentional restorers to understand the value of employee development and retention of talent.
How a project starts is critical to set it on the right path to producing a positive customer experience and a profitable conclusion. A contract forms the legal agreement between a willing buyer (the customer) and a willing seller (the contractor). The contract is built upon the foundation laid from a clearly defined agreed-upon scope of work. What is and, as importantly, what is not included in that scope of work is outlined in the contractor’s estimate. Let’s discuss three guiding principles for better project outcomes.
Element 1 - The Claims Standard
The Claims Standard is a guiding principle for all members of your team, and it crystallizes the responsibilities of all parties in the insurance claims relationship.
Restoring the property to resemble pre-loss conditions, with materials of like kind and quality; no more and no less.
Your initial site inspection identifies the affected areas related to the source and extent of the damages.
If everyone on your team understands and continues to frame the project in accordance with The Standard, all parties will have a clearer understanding of the parameters for success. I believe that when you properly implement this simple narrative into your process, from the outset, you can help steer the project lifecycle more consistently to a successful outcome (habit). Setting the expectations at this point in the project sets the team up to execute realistic expectations during production.
Element 2- A Simple Estimating Formula
Estimating is the process of establishing the agreed-upon scope and cost for a given project. As contractors, we utilize a simple estimating formula to guide our process:
Thorough Data Capture (TDC) +
Accurate Data Input (ADI) =
A Defensible Estimate (ADE)
If you are struggling to produce consistently positive project outcomes, you should review whether your data inputs (estimate) are accurate as well as whether your data capture (documentation) is thorough. You must take accountability for this truth: The quality of the data inputs (composed estimate) is in direct correlation to the quality of the data captured.
Everyone on the team should understand the importance of gathering and sharing quality documentation from the worksite. To tie these two elements together, the estimator will do everyone a favor by making the previously mentioned Standard clear at the outset of every claim. Your introduction could be something to the effect of,
“My job is to perform thorough data capture of the site conditions so that I can accurately data input to generate an estimate for an agreed-upon scope (most likely through Xactimate) to restore your property to resemble pre-loss conditions.”
Many customers choose to upgrade materials or use the damage scenario as a time to finally make those remodeling changes that they have been contemplating for months. Before a restoration contractor can bid the changes to the client, everyone needs to be clear on what is part of the insurance scope so the proper charges are going to the correct parties.
Element 3 - The Restoration Triangle
Throughout his career, Pete Consigli, The Global Restoration Watchdog, trained restorers to value the Restoration Triangle. Each party brings something unique to the table that should be heard and referenced as the agreed-upon scope is established:
Pete reminds stakeholders,
“If one of these parties is left out of the process of determining and agreeing on the extent of damage, scope of repair, cost of restoration to a pre-loss condition, timelines, and criteria for satisfactory completion, then there will be problems.”
A claim should not follow the narrative of a T.V. drama or a strategy for Survivor, whereby two members of the triangle team up to push their narrative through. For example, the contractor and client should not be in cahoots to figure out a way to “maximize the claim” without justification. This is fraud. Neither should the contractor and the carrier be working together to dwindle the scope. This is short-changing (and likely grounds for bad faith).
Developing Your Estimating Process
Better project outcomes start with better project initiation. As an owner or manager, if you want accountability within your systems, you need to ensure your processes are clear and consisstenlty followed. As an estimator, you need to acknowledge your role in setting up your team for success. As a team, everyone has to work together if the process is going to improve. We know there are two primary goals,1) produce a happy customer, hopefully resulting in repeat and referral business (the best kind), and 2) a profitable project so that we can invest in people and growth.
My soon-to-be-released fourth book, How Not To Such At Estimating, will also be a course delivered through Restoration Technical Institutes' learning platform. The content is designed to help restoration professionals develop Habits for Better Project Outcomes. I will share at least 3 more elements to add to your estimating toolbag. If you are interested in peer-reviewing a chapter or would like to be considered to win one of 12 FREE copies for aspiring intentional estimators, please contact The DYOJO through the book's landing page.
My friend, the global restoration watchdog, Pete Consigli, didn’t lie. The AEML Winter Break in January 2022 was FABULOUS. He said, “Be there or be square," and the team delivered on a value packed event.
We had three days of information that was pertinent to mold assessors and remediator‘s, and so much more. Topics included:
A testament to the value that AEML brought to the microbial remediation industry was that the speakers were excited and engaged in the presentations from the other speakers. They often were the ones asking probing questions of each other to get a better understanding of the area of focus being discussed.
If you want to know more about this event, and whet your appetite for 2024 when THE Florida Mold Conference returns:
We resume our series, The Xactimate Sessions. We are discussing the mindset and habits that have helped your peers in the insurance claims industry to elevate their scoping, estimating, and project management game. File 006 introduces the audience to Joyce Gabriel, a talented general manager for a full-service restoration company based in Tacoma, WA.
Listeners will remember when Joyce joined us for podcast episode 52 to discuss some of the powerful tools she has learned for connecting with and interacting with your team. Joyce rejoins the podcast and helps us explore the mindset and habits for effectively training your employees to understand and utilize the Xactimate estimating software.
Xactimate Podcast Discussion
The Xactimate Sessions from The DYOJO Podcast
File 006: Training Others In Xactimate
Season 3, Episode 75
Guest: Joyce Gabriel, General Manager (Tacoma, WA)
Our discussion includes appearances by these guests:
Sponsors of The DYOJO Podcast
The DYOJO Podcast New episodes of The DYOJO Podcast are released on Thursdays 9am PST via video through YouTube and/or audio is distributed through platforms such as Apple, Spotify, Google, etc. Learn more by visiting our website - YouTube.com/thedyojo
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