Technically, you're off the clock. But even after hours, anything that happens on the jobsite is the responsibility of the remodeler. From a burst pipe to a door left unlocked, a long list of catastrophes can destroy an otherwise good relationship with a homeowner.

Thoughts for pre-empting and/or mitigating the damage:

  • Daily checklist: Most after-hours emergencies can be avoided. Create a checklist for walking the job and securing the property at the end of each day. (See article, opposite page.) Check circuits, water pipes, heat, windows and doors, and safety issues.
  • Homeowner buy-in: Should there be an emergency, have a plan for homeowners to follow. Review the plan with them during the pre-construction conference, and discuss the very real possibility that things can go wrong, even for the best companies. Set their expectations realistically!
  • The plan should include one or more of the following:

    Cell phone number of lead carpenter/project manager. This places responsibility with the person who controls the site. It puts them “on call” literally and figuratively. Proper planning, of course, will eliminate most calls.

    Emergency number. Designate a backup employee to be on call 24-7, and rotate that responsibility weekly or monthly. Your phone provider or an IT consultant can help you set up an on-call routing system.

    Pager number. Simple and reliable, a pager can be rotated throughout the company.

    Clients moved out? Make sure your job sign is posted in front of the project and your phone number is easy to read. Then, be sure your after-hours phone message provides the emergency number. — Tim Faller, Field Training Services,