Missing Line Items
By Nick Sharp
Did you know there are over 27,000 Xactimate codes and counting? Each month Xactimate code changes and added line items are added to the price list.
When estimating water restoration in Xactimate, we normally are dealing with WTR, HMR, CLN, CON, and DMO. We also may dabble a bit in PLM, FEE, TMP, CAB, and a few others occasionally. Often, estimators increase their efficiency by finding patterns that can be repeated over and over. Unfortunately, we may find ourselves in an estimating rut and not even know it.
Because we use the same line items repeatedly, we may miss new line items that are added to the price list. It could be months or, in some cases, years before we recognize a line item that we should have been using but did not even know was there.
We could blame Xactimate for this and ask why they did not let us know it was there—but they did! Each month, Xactimate puts out an email detailing all the new line items that are included in that month’s price list. You can locate these changes by going to Xactware’s eService Center and viewing the price list modifications.
If you are only doing water mitigation and not repairs, these lists could seem exhaustive. You might ask, “How often does Xactimate really update WTR?” The truth is, more often than you likely know. Let’s take a look at some line items that were introduced in 2020 that you should think about using and when they would apply in water mitigation claims—and how these new line items could affect your bottom line (positively or negatively).
In April, dry ice and soda blasting was added to WTR and HMR at $5.70 and $3.95, respectively, covering media blasting of exposed and open-framed flooring or wall areas. In July, dry ice and sand blasting also was added to WTR and HMR for exposed framing with sheathing on one side. This line item is used in a crawlspace, attic, or exterior walls where sheathing has not been removed.
What’s the difference? With the line item from April, if you dry ice blasted a 1,000-square-foot crawl space, the price would be $5,700. With the new line item, the same crawl space would be $9,240! That’s over a 62% increase on the same amount of work. Add to that the possible use of additional labor hours due to working in a confined space, and now you might have an impressive increase.
For detaching a tub, the line item WTRTUBD was added. What line item were you previously using? PLMTUB for removal only? That line item was $64.47, and it was not exactly reflective of the work being performed, as there is some additional time and effort necessary to detach and put aside a tub for someone else to reinstall later.
Some contractors might have tried to use PLMTUBRS (detach and reset) and set the calculation as .5, which would yield $$269.22. If you can get paid for that, great, but once again, it is not exactly reflective of the work. Obviously, there is more labor involved in reinstalling the tub than detaching it, so splitting payment in half probably was not easily justified in most cases. Also, in this case, we would be using the plumbing labor trade, even though a water damage technician is the one doing the work.
Adding WTRTUBD at a price point of $86.31 is a win. It is a larger price point than just removing the tub, and it is easier to justify than halving PLMTUBRS. Don’t try to say you don’t want the extra $20.
Asbestos air clearance testing
HMRASBTPA and HMRASBTPAS were added for asbestos air clearance tests after remediation has been completed. These are used in conjunction, with the ASBTPA reflecting the base charge and ASBTPAS the per-sample charge.
If your company is performing asbestos remediation and having a lab or testing company come onsite to inspect, take samples, analyze, and report findings, this line item should be used. Note this is for post abatement. You should still charge ASBT for the initial testing. Also note these line items are not intended for a contractor who takes samples and sends them to a lab. HMRASBTS (charge per sample) should be used in that case.
For HEPA vacuuming of exposed framing with sheathing on floors and walls, Xactimate added HEPAFSH and HEPAWSH, respectively. If you are vacuuming all exposed walls after flood cutting, you’ll most likely need to use both HEPAW and HEPAWSH. If HEPA vacuuming the sheathing and studs on exterior walls, use the new line item. While WTRHEPAW was $.49 per square foot, the new line item is $.97, almost double. Even WTRHEPAVAS (detailed HEPA vacuuming) is only priced at $.53 per square foot.
Using the new codes will certainly increase your average price. On a 20-by-20-foot room, this would add almost $40! Imagine the new HEPA line item used in several rooms on one job; you could see well over $100 added to your average dollar sale.
Detaching and shoring cabinets
Xactimate added WTRCABLDS and WTRCABLDSA cabinets [lower (L); detach (D); with shoring (S); and, where warranted, after hours (A)]. Normally, adding an “S” in the WRT category will change a line item to a Category 3 labor burden, but not in this case.
What is this line item? No doubt, you have seen examples of a contractor who pulls cabinets but does not want to move the countertops into a garage or move them off site. What other options are there? A contractor can choose to brace the countertops with 2x4s while removing the cabinets, making full bracing that will hold up the countertops for the duration of the drying project. By doing it this way, the contractor reduces the liability of removing countertops. (You can remove even more liability by just letting the homeowner know the countertops need to be removed. Then tell them to find a contractor or point them back to their adjuster to find one.) Meanwhile, a contractor going this route should stabilize the environment as much as possible by installing the proper dehumidification and air filtration. If you choose to remove countertops and shore them up, this is the line item to use instead of labor hours.
This line item is priced at $22.77 per linear foot, including detaching the cabinets as well as material and labor to install the shoring underneath the countertops. Tearing out a cabinet (WTRCABLOW)—removing and disposing of the cabinets—is priced at $7 per linear foot.
To detach a cabinet and place it somewhere on site to be reset later (WTRCABLWD) is priced at $15.21 per linear foot.
Therefore, on a bank of cabinets that is 20 linear feet, your pricing will go from $305.60 to $455.40. Will that cover your labor burden? Many contractors have been using labor hours to cover this cost. If you are just cutting 2x4s and plugging them underneath for support, then maybe this will cover your cost. But we learn something by looking at the components of this line item. On 20 linear feet of cabinets, this line item is allowing for 11 linear feet of 2x4s. From this, we can assume this is for a simple shoring up. If you are using additional labor and material to build a complex system, you may need to review the assumption, make needed changes, or add additional labor and material.
Other worthwhile Xactimate code changes and additions
The line item WTRPPEM was added for the N-95 mask specifically. Hopefully, you are using this line item and this form of PPE while working on site for the health and safety of your customers and employees. The line item is $6.40 per mask. Note that an N-95 is still included in the line item WTRPPE, but if you are just using the mask, you can now use this line item.
HMRDIS for disinfecting a building via fog was also added at $.43 per square foot. Notice this is not a volume (CF) charge but, rather, by square feet.
The HBAGG and HBAGG> line items were added for plastic glove bags for hazardous material cleanup. Though these might not be used too often, they are good line items for wrapping pipes when dealing with hazardous material.
Keeping up with new line items does not have to be difficult. But the changes made this year could have a large impact on your average dollar sale and, in effect, your profitability. Make sure your estimator knows what line items to use by keeping up to date with new line items each month.
*All prices given are from the Atlanta, Ga., price list.
Nick Sharp has been an instructor for the Reets Drying Academy Restoration Estimating & Negotiating course since its inception in 2015. He is a restoration estimate consultant and an Xactware Certified Trainer with Level 3 certifications in Xact 28 and X1. Learn more about him at reetsdryingacademy.com.