Prospects who call Castle Creek Construction to talk about a design/build remodeling job receive a booklet, with a paintbrush attached, entitled "15 Biggest Remodeling Mistakes ... and how to avoid them."

"The purpose was to be able to establish communication with the client before the project starts and force them to deal with the real issues," says Cindy Jo Mencavage, partner in Castle Creek Construction, Kirkland, Wash., with husband, Wally. "It weeds out the people not ready to do a project."

Mencavage says by sending the book before the first sales meeting, she can launch right into issues of design exceeding budget (mistake #1), assuming it's cheaper to do the job yourself (mistake #4), overbuilding for the neighborhood (mistake #7), and not knowing who is responsible for mistakes and change orders (mistake #15).

Mencavage says she's provided booklets to qualified leads for six months. So far, everyone has read them. "It has been a great tool," she says. "If they're not interested in reading the book or not interested in talking about it, they're not ready to move forward."

She also circulates the books, which cost the company about $3.50 each with the paintbrush, to real estate agents, mortgage brokers, title companies, and even doctors' offices -- all of whom are willing to provide her with referrals.

Although Mencavage hired an editor to write the booklet for $550, she met with 10 past clients over coffee or lunch to develop the list of mistakes. She developed 25, then narrowed them down to 15, with two bonus mistakes thrown in.

She added the paintbrush because she's learned it takes a certain type of client to want to paint the job himself (and perhaps not the right client for her). It also allows her to discuss acceptable paint standards and acceptable construction standards, which gives her a chance to say that her firm always exceeds them.

The remodeler says anyone can buy a copy of her booklet for $7 plus shipping by visiting her Web site, Qualified clients, of course, get one for free.

So far, the booklet has resulted in four verbal or written agreements, worth about $250,000 in work.