For Fairway Construction of Southfield, Mich., it was a plum job: a $45,000, two-bath remodel of the master bath upstairs and one of the three bathrooms downstairs in the 6,000-square-foot house.
The employee assigned to demolition ran floor protection to two first-floor baths, one slated for rehab, the other for use by the crew during the job. When he finished laying the rosin paper, he grabbed a sledgehammer and started banging. It wasn't until the crew chief returned, and after the demo guy had scraped up the floor tiles, removed the vanity, destroyed the toilet, and ripped down half the drywall that he learned he had torn up the wrong bath.
That was when Fairway owner Adam Helfman received a call from the project manager. "I've got good news and bad news," Helfman told the homeowner by phone. "The good news is we started the job; the bad news, we started in the wrong bathroom."
After promising, in a change order requested by the client, to replace everything at Fairway's cost (about $5,000), and profiting on a tile upgrade suggested to the client by the Fairway salesperson, Helfman satisfied the homeowner. Still, he can't recall any referrals from that client.
"No one got in trouble," he says. The employee was near tears. "It was an honest mistake, a communication breakdown."
As a new policy, the project manager physically identifies, with the crew, what the job entails. "And if there's ever a point where someone doesn't know what to do, they ask," Helfman says. "No question is a dumb question."