Even the smallest residential construction project can induce stress or even panic in a homeowner. But it can also be a lesson in patience (and endurance) for you and your construction crew. On any residential jobsite, it’s important to be patient and respectful of the client’s wishes, time and property; on jobsites where the client and family are in residence, those qualities can save your professional life. Here are a few tips to keep you and your crew sane and in your client’s good graces.
Set the Rules … in Stone
You probably already have a set of rules or code of conduct for your employees, but on jobs where the property will be occupied, it’s time to go above and beyond. Let your crew know there will be little to no leeway on such jobs, especially when it comes to appearance, behavior, and language. Those rules might be more relaxed on jobs in empty houses, but no contractor (or employee) wants to lose a job and reputation because a client’s child heard an off-color joke from the next room. It’s up to you to decide the punishment for one or more infractions. It’s your business and reputation.
Make Life Easier for All Involved
Along with reinforcing or expanding your list of rules, consider including information about the locations of the gas and water shutoffs and electric panel(s). Homeowners won’t be unduly disturbed if everyone knows where they’re going. You might consider adding the names of the client and any family members to the list so courtesy can be observed from Day 1.
Keep Everyone Punctual
All clients love seeing daily evidence of progress on a project, but most also love being able to come home to an empty, private home after work – not the same work crew that was there early in the morning. Before setting up your own work schedule, take the time to ask the client(s) about their own. They’ll appreciate your effort to set up reasonable start/stop times around their needs, not yours.
Keep it Clean and Professional
If you don’t already have a company dress code, consider establishing one for jobs like these. This doesn’t mean running out to order company uniforms, but clients will expect your crew to look like professionals at all times. This simply means no vulgar t-shirts or exposed overt tattoos, no tank tops or dirty work clothes. If you have company t-shirts – great. If not, simply suggest your crew stick to solid colors.
Take All Breaks Off Property
Your workers are probably well aware that taking breaks inside a house, occupied or not, is against the rules. And it should go without saying that smoke breaks – even when taken outside the home – can still cause irritation to those inside if windows are open. Have your crew members take all breaks off the property. Your clients will appreciate your efforts not to inconvenience them.
Keep Equipment Where it Belongs
Setting down a toolbox, drill or hammer within reach on the nearest surface while working is not uncommon. However, in a fully furnished, occupied home, all surfaces that are not already covered in protective drop cloths or layers of cardboard should be off-limits to anything being used on the jobsite. No homeowner wants to enter their home and see a grease-covered wrench on the antique sideboard near the bathroom. And no contractor wants to hear about the sudden appearance of a nick or scratch on the client’s expensive antique.
When homeowners pay a lot of money for construction work on their homes, they naturally expect professional behavior from the professionals especially when they’re still in residence. Remember, a satisfied or impressed homeowner will go the extra mile to pass along the good news about your company to as many others as are willing to listen. May the referrals roll in.