The day that John Gemmi, owner of Gemmi Construction, in Buckingham, Pa., realized his inexpensive digital camera had video and audio capabilities was the day his walkthrough and estimating processes completely changed.

360 Detail

Gemmi used to take still photographs to document a project, but now, during his initial walkthrough, he asks clients if they mind him shooting a video instead.

As he shoots the video, he talks, pointing out particular areas that will need to be attended to. He shoots from several angles, for instance, walking around both sides of a wall, even going outside or to a floor below. “Because you’re moving around, you’re more likely to capture what you need,” Gemmi says. “You end up getting more detail, and you can rewind and go back to things.”

Back at his office, Gemmi downloads the video onto the computer, labels the file, and puts it in the client’s folder. The estimator then looks at this video to create his proposal. Doing it this way saves time since Gemmi may not even have to meet with the estimator, and it allows the estimator to get to the video clip when it’s convenient for him and to refer to the clip later if he has anything he needs to double-check.

Short Takes

Gemmi’s advice: stop and start shooting in short spurts. “Don’t take 20 [continuous] minutes of video,” he advises. “It makes sharing video — [with a trade partner, for example] — easier when they’re smaller clips.”

He also finds that the videos taken with his inexpensive Olympus digital camera don’t take up much room on the office hard drive. “You don’t need fancy video that might take up a lot of space,” Gemmi says.

Video courtesy John Gemmi, Gemmi Construction.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.