Sometimes, to access your jobsite you have to use someone else's property. Project neighbors might not take kindly to this, as Dylan Wadlington, owner of Wadlington Remodeling, Pine Grove Mills, Pa., found out. But the remodeler was able to save his reputation with a simple procedure.

When Wadlington's excavator subcontractor dropped a load of gravel onto the parking lot of a student apartment building adjacent to the jobsite, Wadlington arrived to find the building owner “stomping off looking angry.” Wadlington introduced himself and took a walk with the man.

He offered the neighbor three things: an apology, a promise to fix the problem, and a promise to make sure it wouldn't ever happen again on any job. And he asked the neighbor's forgiveness.

Wadlington made good on his promises. To ensure it would never happen on another job, he created a form — “permission to utilize property not associated with jobsite” —that resides in every project binder. When a pertinent situation arises, the lead carpenter introduces himself and asks the neighbor to sign the form. “If the neighbor refuses, we have to respect that and find an alternative,” says Wadlington, who admits that this hasn't happened since instituting the policy in the summer of 2006.

Wadlington also added an outline of this procedure to the existing company manual. “If permission is given,” the addendum reads, “the property must be returned to use in ‘better than existing condition,' [and] the owner must give their okay to the remedies before we leave.”

For the apartment owner, Wadlington bought a $50 gift certificate to a local gourmet shop and had the excavator re-gravel the entire parking lot. He followed up with a phone call. The owner was surprised at how the situation was rectified and asked if they did this for everyone. “The lead carpenter said, ‘We did this because we did something wrong. Imagine what we do for our customers,'” relates Wadlington. The fix didn't cost Wadlington much and he's sure that the owner, who is also a dentist, has “told his patients the story of the contractor who made good.”