In May of 1988, I got my first job out of Virginia Tech writing accounting software for a very small software company in Virginia Beach, VA. The company wrote custom software for several industries, including job cost accounting for the construction industry. One of the clients for the accounting software was a fire restoration contractor. The restoration contractor had hired a couple of programmers to write him an estimating system. They proved not up to the task, so my boss at the accounting software company and the restoration contractor formed a company to write estimating systems for the insurance claims industry. Since I was the hard working programmer I was given four percent ownership.
Enter fast forward mode:
Accounting software boss doesn’t pull weight - Ex-boss bought out by other partners - stock given to hardworking programmer – an investor is found – scanned estimating program is developed – sales not too good – start adjusting claims during Andrew – programmer becomes storm adjuster - software company morphs to adjusting company – storm adjuster become adjusting company manager – programmer/claims adjuster/claims manager leaves adjusting company concentrates on computer services– adjusting company dies – 4 in ’04 – start doing local claims, in addition to computer services – economic troubles of ’08 – loss of large programming job, closing all claims.
Exit fast forward mode
So I am cleaning my office since I have lots of time on my hands and stumble across several pads of the scope sheets for my old DOS estimating system. We spent years developing these sheets so that a complete take off could be done in the field, and then either scanned on an optical mark reader (like the SAT test), or handed to a data entry clerk for entering into the computer. The repair cost database was thousands of items with tens of thousands of prices. The price of a double sided scanner was around $6,000.00, so the entry costs were formidable, so we only sold about ten scanners. But that was the fastest estimating system I have ever seen, it could produce a twenty page estimate in less than three minutes. There was editing to be done, but with practice it could be minimized.
We had the scan sheets printed three times at a minimum order of 10,000 per sheet. The first printing there were 6 sheets per room and two sheets for the exterior, one for roofs and one for exterior items. Eventually it was reduced to the one gatefold sheet (four sides) of the interior scan sheets that are posted here. There was a gatefold scan sheet for roof and exteriors as well, but I do not seem to have a copy of that one.
The manual sheets were meant to guide a user through the questions that the estimating system asked as the estimate was compiled. Data input training was minimal. Both the interior and exterior sheets are posted here.
All the sheets are very tightly integrated into the repair cost database. That is lying around here somewhere as well.
Thousands of man hours of development, testing, pricing and marketing were put into these sheets. I thought at least I should post them so folks could look at them.
Here is the link