Among the reasons why remodelers don’t like warranty work are that there’s no profit in it and it takes them away from the sale of future projects and the income they bring. It also creates the question of what qualifies as warranty work and what doesn’t, and how to talk with clients about the difference.
My solution is to make warranty work part of the sales process. First, when selling new projects, let potential clients know that upon completion you will return for follow-up warranty checks. For example, show them that you will return at 90 days and again at 350 days, which is prior to the end of the one-year manufacturer material warranties.
Second, show them a written warranty and then review the quality standards that it provides. Several standards publications tailored to remodeling are available, including Residential Construction Performance Guidelines for Professional Builders & Remodelers (NAHB, 4th edition).
When you return for your first scheduled warranty visit, review the work related to your project and address any outstanding items. Finish materials typically need a complete seasonal cycle to acclimate, so paint and drywall problems are best left for the second visit. Instead, look for, and correct, glaring issues, such as soil settlement or problems with electrical circuits, and make necessary adjustments to items like sticking locksets and loose or misaligned cabinet hardware.
But don’t stop there. Once back in your client’s home, review your installed work, but add some easy–to-complete maintenance items to your “to-do” list:
- Test and reset all GFCIs
- Clean and change standard furnace filters
- Change all the smoke alarm batteries
- Install a plug-in carbon monoxide monitor
- Check washing machine hoses for leaks
- Check sink cabinets for leaks
Add to this list as needed. The point is to exceed your client’s expectations. Your actions during this visit will remind them of why they decided to work with you. The result is a happy client, potential referrals, and the opportunity to identify additional work.