When your next big project begins, introduce yourself to the neighbors. “If you take just a few minutes to tell them what you're doing and how long it's going to take, their body language changes before your eyes,” says Steve Klitsch, who owns Creative Concepts Remodeling in Germantown, Md. “You can see their shoulders relax,” as they realize there's someone in charge whom they can contact at any time.

Clients appreciate it, too, knowing they won't have to field questions from irate neighbors.

Klitsch makes a point of meeting the adjacent neighbors who might be affected by noise, trucks, or debris. He does it in person, so he can give them his card and cell phone number, and often catches them going to their car or coming home from work.

Among the points Klitsch conveys: his name and the name of his company, the scope of the project, the name of his lead carpenter, and his promise to minimize problems and take care of any problems that do arise — for instance, if debris blows from under a tarp into the neighbor's yard.

Besides being good for neighborly relations, Klitsch's greetings often make what he calls a “soft sell.” In December, three hours after one such introduction, the neighbor's wife called him to inquire about some work on her house.