Natural Habitat I prefer to have the first meeting with clients in their home. I want them to be in their environment so I can get to know them and their house. The feeling I want to convey is that I understand them, their home, and their needs.

People relate to their houses differently, so the first thing I do is ask for a tour, during which I cover four questions: What irritates you about this house or space? How do you want to live in this space? How do you want the space to interact and flow? And how do you want other people to interact in this space? These are hard to answer if you are not in their house.

Behavioral Lessons The first meeting is a “listening adventure,” a time for me to get their minds off production details and focused on their values. I want us to work as a team to find a solution.

Ideally, both spouses attend, and I see them interact on their own territory. Do they laugh or joke, or interrupt each other? If the husband or wife leaves the room or wanders in and out of the interview, that is an indication of his or her level of commitment.

Start of the Process During the meeting, I show them photos of similar projects and consider a possible budget. I don't want them to focus on finished details — I want the bigger picture. Sometimes it's a simple statement such as “I want to watch my kids do their homework while I'm cooking” that provides the key.

Kerry Bramon, CGR
Kerry Bramon Remodeling
Columbia, Mo.
Big50 1993