Our next-door neighbors are in the middle of a backyard remodel. The work includes a pool, landscaping, deck with outdoor kitchen, and another deck off the second-floor master suite. (The upper deck looks directly into the back of our house, and as I write this my neighbors are peering over the rail at me like a cheerful, Texas version of the Eye of Sauron. But that’s another topic.)
Shortly after they signed the contract, the pool company and the remodeler both put signs in front of my neighbors’ house. They then embarked on a three-month remodel.
I know well the disruption that remodeling brings, but I also understand the need for good customer service. To that end, I wish either company had put a note under our door warning us about the noise and dust. It also would have been helpful to get a contact name and info in case any questions or issues came up.
And there were definitely issues. Before the remodel started, our neighbor asked if he could chop down the row of trees bordering our two properties in order to enlarge his fence. We said no.
But the remodeler hacked down one of the trees anyway, presumably because the homeowner requested it. It was obvious that the trees straddle our lot, and it seems like something the company might have checked before proceeding.
The workers were noisy, played loud music all day, and blocked our driveway with their trucks. When building the fence, they moved our canoe and left it face up. It rained that night creating a boat full of mosquitoes. And on and on.
I wish either company had put a note under our door warning us about the noise and dust. It also would have been helpful to get a contact name and info in case any questions or issues came up.
It wasn’t so much the issues themselves that annoyed me—remodeling requires a “don’t sweat the small stuff” attitude—but I do wish that both companies had been more proactive about reaching out.
By putting signage in a homeowners’ front yard, a remodeler is saying, “Someone in your community trusts us with their project. You should consider doing business with our company as well.” Yet by not getting out in front of potential problems, that same sign becomes a deterrent to hiring them.
There are also little touches that could have actually resulted in opportunity for the remodeler. For example, the project created a lot of dust, and my husband and I had to wash our cars every few days, as well as spray down the side of the house and driveway. Imagine the opportunity created if the company had given us coupons for a free car wash. What was a negative experience would have immediately become a positive one, resulting in the potential for more work, or at the very least a referral.
There’s a more subtle value at play here as well—the value of community. Treating people around you with consideration inspires them to do the same. Our species is wired to remember bad experiences more than good ones, making it all the more important to counteract that tendency with thoughtful actions.