There is one crucial component of the remodeling transaction that can do more to lessen the possibility and severity of disputes than any efforts designed to clean up disputes once they have occurred: Be sure to build “reasonable expectations” into your sales and remodeling process.

Customers have visions of completed projects, but not the stress and disruptions that are part of the remodeling process. While it is certainly important to sell clients on the beauty and desirability of the finished project, it is equally important to fully inform them of the not-too-pretty aspects of the process.

Remodeling is a traumatic experience for the client. It’s dirty, it’s messy, stuff is late or doesn’t always fit, and things may be discovered that no one saw coming. And unfortunately, the level of stress the customer may experience is entirely subjective. What is normal construction mess to one person is another person’s worst nightmare.

Fully inform the potential client about the challenges inherent in the process at the same time that you are selling them on the finished product. It’s also important to build steps into your process that enable the customer to see that you and your team are addressing the items that might cause the homeowner stress.

Carefully handle their furniture and belongings; clean up every day; show up on time; keep the promises you make. Set reasonable schedules that allow for the possibility of product delays — no one ever complains about getting their job completed too soon. And throughout the process, keep the customer fully informed of what is happening in their home and with their project.

Build the concept of reasonable expectations into your sales and remodeling process and the likelihood and severity of disputes is greatly lessened. In sum, setting reasonable expectations for your clients is good business.

—Attorney Richard Feeley is president of Feeley Mediation & Business Law, a specialty law firm providing mediation and legal solutions to residential builders and remodelers.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.