Property Preservation Photo Requirements
The photo requirements listed here should be sufficient in the majority of your property preservation jobs. If you have additional photo requirements you might want to create your own photo checklist using this list as the foundation.
Photo documentation is your best friend. Always take high quality photos, mark them appropriately and store them for future reference. Talk with your tax advisor and legal advisor to get their comments on the length of time you should be retaining documentation.
General Photo Requirements
All photos must be taken from the same angle and the same distance. This includes “before”, “during” and “after” photos.
Broken Window Photo Requirements
Before: Place some type of object through the broken window in such a way that it is obvious the window glass is broken. You can place your hand in the opening, place a cloth in the opening or any object that helps to locate and emphasize the broken glass. When taking this photo, try to include some adjacent feature which will help verify this window is the same window as will be shown in the “after” photo.
After: Some mortgage servicing company came up with the idea of putting a “X” on the window pane that was replaced. This evidently is to allow them to easily see that there is indeed glass in that opening. This has been a real money making idea as the kids in the neighborhood use the “X” as the bulls eye for their BB guns and pitching skills.
As in the “before” try to include some adjacent feature which will help verify this window is the same window as the one in the “before” photo.
You can use or non-permanant marker to make the tape “X”. The kids seem to like the tape.
Grass Cut Photo Requirements
Standards: All photos should show the entire area of the property – not just the cut area.
Before: Before you begin the grass cut, take photos from a distance that gives a full view of the front of the house and one side of the house. Take another photo that includes the back of the house and the other side.
After: After the grass has been cut, take pictures just like you did for the “before” photos. The photo should show the exact same scene but now with a freshly cut lawn.
During: Some companies require a DURING photo. Absurd but true. Take a photo of the grass cut (front and rear) about half way thru the cut. Stop the lawn mower, return to the spot you marked when you took your BEFORE photo, and now take your DURING photo.
Hedge Trimming Photo Requirements
Standards: All photos must be taken from the same angle and the same distance. This includes “before”, “during” and “after” photos.
Before: Before trimming the hedge or bushes, take photos using the standard above. If possible take the photo from an angle and distance that shows the entire hedge row.
After: Photo should be taken from same distance and angle as “Before” Photos and show trimmed hedge with clippings removed.
Debris Photo Requirements
Standards: All photos must be taken from the same angle and the same distance. This includes “before”, and “after” photos.
Before: Before photos are required for every area from which debris is to be removed. The photos are to show the debris and s in taking broken glass photos, try to include some characteristic of the area which helps confirm it is the same area which will be shown in the “After” photos. Inside a home, this characteristic could be wall damage or unique painting. Outside, you might use trees or shrubs or permanantly affixed objects like mailboxes.
After: Take photos after removing the debris. Take the photos using the guide given above for the “Before” photos. Remember, same distance and same angle.
Bidding Photo Requirements
All bids must be accompanied by photos that provide evidence to support that your bid is justified. What is justified? It appears this is the word used to say that your bid must fall within the fee range the company has set which is not necessarily what a free market fee would be.
Debris Removal Bidding Photo Requirements
Standards: If submitting photos for debris removal by the cubic yard, the photos must show all of the debris that will be bid. Photos for debris that will be bid “per unit” should show only the unit to be removed. Photos for a collection of items to be bid should show the collection if possible. An example would be 5 five-gallon containers of diesel fuel.
Hazardous Materials Warning
Debris removal is not to be treated casually. You will encounter things you may have never seen before and some of them may be extremely dangerous. In addition to our old friends mold and mildew, it is quite possible that you could be exposed to chemicals used to manufacture illegal drugs, drug paraphnalia and other hazardous materials.
Another very smart move is for you to familiarize yourself with names and markings of commercially produced products that are classified as hazardous. You also need to familiarize yourself with signs of meth labs and other illegal activities that may have taken place at the property.
Please read the material listed under “Recommended Reading” in the link section of this book or its website.
Damages Photo Requirements
The best photos are taken by those with a real interest in the subject. See if this helps you take better pictures:
Pretend that you are taking photos of damages in your own home – pictures you are sending to your insurance adjuster. You want the biggest check possible so you have to tell the whole story with the pictures. Also pretend that you are not allowed to write on the pictures or send notes with the pictures. Ask yourself what do you need to show in the pictures.
Here are a few things that always help:
- Photos must indicate what room or area of the house in which it was taken. You may want to carry a notepad and a marker with you in case you need to place a sign in the photo. The signs can offer more information on the damage and the area it is in.
- Close-ups are nice for giving detail about the damage but the true size of the damage cannot be easily determined from the photo since the viewer does not know from what distance the photo was taken or whether a certain lens was used or whether or not you used a zoom lens. If you take a close-up photo you should also include an area photo that includes the damage. You may even want to put a ruler or yardstick in the photo to give some size reference.
Eviction Photo Requirements
I have already mentioned that you need to use your best judgement when taking photos at an eviction. In most cases, you will not need your camera until the occupants have been evicted and have left the property. In any case, you must not take photos of the actual eviction process or the people being evicted. Do not take photos of their personal property – especially vehicles.
Eviction photos are no different than photos of other services you perform and document with the photos. It’s just that there are few more photos than normal required that are offered as proof that the eviction was handled legally and appropriately for the circumstances. See the eviction chapter for more info.