Richard Bourgault

Graduating from Georgia Tech with a degree in Electrical Engineering, Richard began his Cost Segregation career working for Ernst & Morris Consulting, one of the very first firms to specialize in Cost Segregation.

Photos are essential for cost segregation studies. If you can instruct your clients to take them properly, you don’t need to physically make a site visit, nor do you need engineers to go and measure everything inch by inch.

Alternatively, if you do take the photos yourself, knowing how to get them right will save you extra trips to your client’s property. Either way, thorough photos will help you get your studies done faster when paired with a system like SegStream Pro. 

Below, we’ll show how to make sure you get thorough photos for cost segregation studies and how to use them. This will help you tell your clients exactly what you need from their photos, or you can use it as a guide for taking photos on your own. 

Cost Seg photos allow you to make reasonable estimates

Photos are important for cost segregation because they can help you make reasonable estimates and allocations, and provide a paper trail for how you can up with an allocation. Remember that an estimate is acceptable as long you put forth a reasonable effort to show a realistic estimation. 

When using photos for an estimate, make it a little bit easier on yourself by picking round numbers. For example, if you’re estimating the length of floor tiles from a photo and you’re torn between 17ft 6in or 18 ft 4in, just pick 18ft. As long as it’s reasonable and legitimate, this is the easiest route.  

What you need in your photographs and how to best use them

Essentially, you need someone to photograph every square foot of the property. This will most likely be the property owner or someone they know and trust. Have them treat it like they’re doing a thorough inspection where they photograph every nook and cranny. 

These are some (but not all) of what you’ll need your photographs to capture:

  • Floors and floor finish types
  • Walls and wall materials
  • Air conditioning components such as vents, thermostat, and the compressor on the outside
  • Windows and window coverings such as vertical blinds
  • What kind of doors and how big they are, a typical door is 7ft tall
  • Different types of lighting
  • Cabinetry, countertops, and receptacles in the kitchen
  • Garbage disposals and dishwashers, ideally getting a photo of the make and model on the label
  • Ceiling fans
  • Furnaces and water heaters
  • W/D hookups and plumbing and electrical for the washer and dryer.
  • Conduits in the walls and wiring in the conduit
  • Railings and railing material such as wood or metal
  • Stucco on the outside of the building
  • Photos of the circuit breaker and labels can tell you what electrical hookups and appliances there are (dryer, a/c, furnace, etc.)

Again, these are just some of what you’ll need to capture. Photos of every part of the building and external property are essential. You want to leave no stone unturned.

These photos will not only show what there is and what material it’s made out of, but they’ll also help you estimate measurements in good faith. For example, if you see a photo of a standard door, you can safely assume it’s about 7 ft tall and 2.5 ft wide. 

If you see tiling that looks about 1ft x 1ft, and you see 12 tiles going across the floor, you can reasonably estimate the 12ft length of the tile. Building plans can also be referred to, in tandem with the pictures, to create good faith estimates for how much of a certain material there is. 

These types of estimates are permissible to use in a cost segregation study, which means you do not physically need to go to the property and measure it if you have substantial photographs. 

How to supplement photographs with other tools

Tools like Google Earth and ReGrid can also help you, as they show a map of the building structure that you can measure using the tool. 

For example, imagine you know you have a hallway that runs the length of a building that has vinyl flooring, cement walls, and cement ceiling, but you can’t estimate the length of the entire hallway using photos alone. You could go to Google Earth and simply measure the length of the building, then use the photos to estimate the width of the hallway and ceiling and the height of each wall. Then, you have a reasonable estimate for each component of the hallway that you derived from photos and Google Earth combined. 

Google Earth


SegStream walks you through the info-gathering process that your photos inform

The easiest way to complete a cost segregation study in the least amount of time is to have your client provide thorough photos (or take them yourself if you can) of everything in the building. Then, you use our software, SegStream Pro, to walk you through the info-gathering process. 

The way cost segregation studies work using SegStream Pro is essentially a long questionnaire that you fill out. What’s nice about this is that all the questions you need answered are in the software, so you don’t have to think of them yourself. If you have photographs of every component of the building, you can refer to them as you run through the questions in SegStream Pro and fill them out as you go. This makes the process much easier and faster, combining the benefits of the software with your complete photo library. 

The software then creates an automated cost segregation study based on the estimates and information you gathered from your photos in a fraction of the time it would take to do it the traditional way.

Interested in seeing how it works? Schedule a free live demo and we’d be happy to show you.