What makes a great client grumpy? The never-ending punch list. Remodelers tend to think that the problem is the client who keeps adding to the list. I believe the problem is usually us. By never really completing the punch list, remodelers create distrust.

How can you avoid upsetting a client at the end of the job?

Develop a culture. Make timely completion a priority, not just a check-collection issue.

Develop lists as you go along. Stay on top of small items that tend to be forgotten, like paint touch-up or that missing piece of trim. Don't wait for the client to point them out.

Engage the client early in the process. Ask about the little things that bug them and no one else. Deal with these issues while the protections are in place and work is still going on.

Set a deadline for completion. By having a goal, staff will focus on the tasks at hand and be less inclined to brush them off and forget about them.

Have the client sign the completed punch list. This will discourage them from adding to it.

Have a warrantee process. Assure the client that you will fix any problems they identify later. This will ease the stress of finding every little problem before they sign off as complete.

Never skimp or do poor-quality work. As they say, if you have time to fix it, you had time to do it right the first time.

—Tim Faller, Field Training Services, www.leadcarpenter.com.