House Rules

I had a wonderful breakthrough in my remodeling business when I discovered that I could set project rules that homeowner would agree to follow. Now, I learned from practical experience that I couldn’t set these rules after the project had started. No, any rule setting had to be agreed upon before the project started. I understood that I could do this after I spoke with a psychiatrist who had just completed a 6-month remodeling job. After his project was complete, he told me that “parental transference” takes place on many remodeling projects. In many projects, a good contractor takes on a parenting role to the clients he or she is working with. Interested in reviewing an agreement for House Rules?

I’m a father to an 17-year old son, and I’ve learned that in my parenting role with him, I can set rules that he must follow if he wants to live in my household. He will always try to test these rules, but he does understand that there are certain rules he must follow as a member of our family. This key understanding allowed me to begin testing, in my newly defined parenting role with my construction clients, my project “ground rules”. These simple ground rules address specific issues that are present on every remodeling project. Here are the questions that made up my “Ground Rules Agreement”:

For one day projects, please answer the following questions:

    1. If there are pets, where will they be kept during construction?
    2. If there are children, what rules apply to them around the work site during working hours?
    3. What dust containment procedures will the contractor employ?
    4. What kind of cleanup will take place at the end of each day?
    5. What restrictions, if any, are there on your contractors’ use of your bathroom?
    6. Is there a designated eating or smoking area?
    7. Are there any parking restrictions the contractor should be aware of?

For projects that are longer than 1 day, but less than 2 weeks:

    1. What time will daily work begin and end?
    2. Can work be scheduled on weekends?
    3. If weekend work is an option, are there any special restrictions?
    4. If there is an after-hours emergency, who do you call?
    5. Who will you talk to about “change orders?” What is the best number to call?
    6. Who do you take day-to-day comments and suggestions to?

For projects of more than 2 weeks, please review and answer these questions:

  1. When do you want the weekly homeowner meeting to occur? (Homeowners’ meetings bring the remodeler and homeowners together at regular intervals to address questions and review progress.)
  2. Will any work areas need to be completely cleared of furniture? (Note: Most contractors will state in their contracts that they shall not be responsible for any valuables left in any area under construction. The possibility of accidents is too great.) Specify.
  3. Where will workers store their tools and building materials?
  4. Which outside area(s) will bear the brunt of construction activities and what protective measures can be taken?
  5. Does any landscaping need to be moved or protected?
  6. Is there any way to lessen the impact of construction?
  7. If necessary, review the location of the dumpster and Porto John

________________________________                                   ___________________________

Signed:            Homeowner                                                      Signed: Contractor

The key is using an agreement like this is to review and agree on the questions above before construction begins. This provides clear direction and puts you in charge of onsite construction management. This allows both homeowners and contractor to review potential problem areas before these areas can ever become a problem. Besides addressing a number of potential issues, it also demonstrates project professionalism because you proactively address daily project management concerns that most homeowners have. They want these questions answered.

Complete this agreement during your pre-construction meeting, or earlier. The crowning jewel in this agreement is at the end. Both you and your clients sign the agreement, demonstrating that you have agreed upon the answers to each of the questions above. This puts you in charge of the project. You have control of the daily onsite questions that often bring disruptions to your project flow. Your clients may test you at times, but you have their signature at the end of this agreement. They have agreed to follow the “rules”.