Homeowners have plenty to worry about when they're living through a construction project, from mess and disruption to a complete loss of control over their house, money, and life. Of the many tools we use to lock in our clients' trust, one of the most important is the pre-construction checklist.

This simple, one-page document lays out the rules of conduct during the project and documents the signature of the homeowner and the company to ensure that everybody takes the checklist seriously and to minimize unpleasant surprises once work is under way.

We complete the checklist at the pre-construction meeting, which is the official hand-off from Mark IV Builders' sales team to its production team. In attendance are both homeowners (in the case of couples), the project superintendent (our term for a project manager), the salesperson for the job, and myself.

Here are some of the items we document in the checklist:

  • Client contact info;
  • Supervisor contact info, including how to reach him after-hours;
  • Daily start and quitting times;
  • Restrictions on weekend work;
  • Security instructions, if relevant;
  • Day and time of on-site staff meetings;
  • Protection measures: how we'll handle dust; protect floors, furniture, breakables, and landscaping; and which work areas will need to be cleared;
  • Rules involving children, pets, parking, and jobsite cleanup;
  • Designated eating and smoking areas;
  • Day and time of weekly client meeting;
  • And other notes, as needed.

In sitting down with clients to complete the pre-construction agreement, we set a professional standard for the project and a friendly yet businesslike tone for our relationship with homeowners. We each know what the other expects, and we build an additional layer of trust and mutual respect into our relationship.

Andy Hannan is the production manager of Mark IV Builders, in Bethesda, Md.