6 Things Every Estimator Needs for the Field

As an estimator, it is your job to accurately sketch, scope, and bill for restoration projects. You most likely spend a lot of time in the field visiting job sites to get measurements, take photos, and check on job progress. After visiting the job site, you may head back to the office to write the estimate, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be prepared for fieldwork.

Below are 6 things that every field estimator needs that will help you on the job site!

1) Portable Laptop Stand

We’ve all been there, trying to find a flat spot to set your computer while you open Xactimate and draw your sketch. You carry it around the client’s home and set it on anything that is flat (or at least anything it won’t fall off). You start in the kitchen and use the counter, and they are shorter than ideal, so you do the little lean-over to try and make it work. Then you go to the living room and set it on the top of the couch cushion. 

Portable Laptop Stand

That’s why number one on our list, is a portable laptop stand! This tripod laptop stand acts as a portable desk. They are lightweight, fold up to carry with you, and can be adjusted to your preferred height. Then just grab it and move it around while you sketch. 

2) Laser Tape Measure

A laser tape measure will make quick work of measurements for your sketches. Hit the button and you’ll have accurate measurements instantly. 

3) Sticky Notes for Measuring Outside Corners

If you have used a laser tape measure before, you know the laser has to point at the target for it to measure. Which works great for inside corners since the laser is pointed at a wall. However, if you are measuring an outside corner, the laser has nothing to stop it. Use a sticky note on the outside corner and now the laser will stop when it’s pointed at the sticky note! 

4) Digital Camera

A big part of your job as an estimator is to accurately tell the story of the restoration project. And we all know a picture is worth a thousand words! You should be taking plenty of photos of job sites, it’s always nice to be able to look at photos instead of having to drive back out to the project. A drop-proof and waterproof camera will also give you peace of mind in the field. 

5) Moisture Meter

You will often have a client call you and may be one of the first people at the job site. Having a moisture meter will help you start identifying affected areas, and will give your clients confidence they made the right choice by calling you! 

By the way, don’t forget extra batteries! It’s no fun if your battery runs out on a job site and you don’t have a spare.

6) 3D Camera

A 3D camera will quickly capture the ENTIRE area. A digital camera is great for taking photos of one area, but a 3D camera lets you see the entire space. You can be at your office and pull open a 3D photo of the job site and move around or zoom in. They are really cool!

There are several different 3D cameras available. Matterport is a great camera and comes with great software that lets you take measurements or make notes. The downside is they are pretty pricey (and I mean really pricey). 

Another great camera, and much cheaper, is the Insta 360 X3. It’s small and take great 3D photos with the push of a button!

Of course, these are just a few things every estimator should have! What tool do you always carry?