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A site preparation checklist can help manage customer expectations.

July 01, 1999

The estimate has been approved and the contract signed, but before the project can begin, there’s one more piece of paper to go over with your clients -- the site preparation checklist.

For more than 10 years, Plekkenpol Builders, Bloomington, Minn., has been using such a checklist, not only to prepare clients for the realities of remodeling but also to protect the company from liability.

On the most basic level, a site preparation checklist lets clients know what to expect during a remodel. A remodeler can take measures to minimize dust and explain his efforts to the customers, but no verbal explanation can prepare homeowners for the layer of silt that inevitably settles.

That’s why it’s important to include written warnings about the dust and disarray that accompany remodeling, says Dave Goodlund, sales manager. Plekkenpol’s checklist says: "We take precautionary measures to confine dust and debris to construction areas, however, it is impossible to totally contain dust. Therefore you may wish to cover furnishings, close doors to other rooms, and vacuum to help control dust from spreading."

"Some people think it’s overkill when we tell them to cover their bookcases [in other rooms] with plastic," Goodlund says. But when the dust settles, clients appreciate the advanced, explicit warning the checklist gives.

The checklist also helps prevent damage to the client’s home and property. "By having a checklist, you know you’ve covered everything" -- especially items that aren’t so obvious. "Homeowners don’t generally think of having to move a china hutch when the construction is on the other end of the house," Goodlund says. "What they don’t realize is we’re going to be walking through there with a bathtub."

On occasion, the checklist has helped the company avert potential financial and customer-relation disasters. Recently, a subcontractor dug a basement and uprooted the homeowner’s prized perennials in the process. Fortunately, Plekkenpol had gone over with the client the site preparation checklist, which acknowledged her responsibility for transplanting the flowers before the excavation date.

"Had we not had that checklist, we would have had to replace the perennials," Goodlund says.
To download a copy of Plekkenpol Builders’ site preparation checklist, go to www.housingzone.com.

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