By Nina Patel Pre-construction meetings are important because they facilitate the hand-off from sales to production. They also lay the groundwork for good crew/client relations. "It sets expectations for day-to-day operations," says Halsey Platt, owner of Walter H.B. Platt Builders and Cabinetmakers in Groton, Mass. Platt says using a formal list of items shows the client that the company is well organized.

Platt's sales staff customizes a standard form to fit the scope of the project and continually updates the list. "We learned the hard way to turn painful mistakes into positive changes," he says. On the list, he asks clients to express their biggest concern about the project. Addressing those fears allows clients to relax, which results in a smoother project, Platt says.

Scott Watson, owner of Taylor Watson Construction, says the meeting is a vital part of the project, and he treats it accordingly. The St. Louis remodeler asks his clients to set up a time and place for the meeting that is conducive to concentrating on the information they're receiving from his company -- preferably without the distraction of children, pets, or phone calls.

The meeting, which takes two to four hours, covers job cost, drawings, and schedule, as well as placement of materials, the portable toilet, and the Dumpster. Watson also addresses issues surrounding parking, pets, and neighbors.

Timothy Pleune of Boa Construction does not use a formal list in his pre-construction meetings. The Denver remodeler says his staff covers site use during project development. He prefers to use time in pre-construction meetings to review owner responsibilities, insurance and warranty questions, and the estimate and schedule.