Castle Building & Remodeling, in Minneapolis, started adding its Project Start Questionnaire to job folders (and the company database) about six years ago. Doing so was inspired by an online course discussing methods for streamlining the handoff from sales to production.

The form gives sales a chance to bring up some points which, if not discussed, could cause awkwardness, even irritation, as the job commences. “We saw the need to let the production guys know a bunch of details,” company owner Loren Schirber says.

The form, Schirber points out, also gives homeowners peace of mind because it allows them to see that the remodeler thought ahead about potential issues such as plantings, bathroom location, and managing pets. “Yard stuff is big for people,” Schirber adds.

Castle Building & Remodeling does jobs of all sizes, including handyman work. The Project Start Questionnaire comes into play on any job worth more than $8,000. For a large design/build project, the form is filled out at contract signing and is given to the project manager who brings it to the pre-construction meeting; on smaller or less complex projects, the project manager fills out the form at that meeting. The questionnaire, Schirber says, “is one step in the process that allows us to provide a little better customer service.”

Point Person

Primary Project Contact: Is there more than one home­owner? Probably. So which owner will you communicate with? Loren Schirber lets clients know: “We are going to communicate with one of you, then you can communicate between yourselves.”

Fallback Plan

Secondary Contact: Say there’s an issue on the job and the person designated as Primary Project Contact can’t be reached. That’s when you want to have a Secondary Contact — another person in the house to get a hold of if you need to. Schirber says that most clients like to be updated at least weekly on their projects, and the majority prefer to be reached via email.

Call of Nature

Bathroom Usage: Ask clients which bathroom is designated for use by crews, and give the option of having a portable brought on site. “We’ve never done a Porta Potty,” Schirber says. The purpose of mentioning bathroom use on the form is primarily to alert clients that even though Castle Building & Remodeling will put down runners, homeowners should “plan on having their house get dirty and their bathroom get used,” and that maybe they should get the rugs up and put out an old towel, Schirber says.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Pets: Knowing about pets is important for two reasons. First, so that animals are controlled — you don’t want an escaped dog running down the street. And second, so that clients acknowledge with a signature that it’s their responsibility to manage pets during construction.

Don’t Be Alarmed

Other Special Instructions: Final items include whether or not there’s a security system and, if there is, the code for it. Clients often deactivate the alarm, but still, “we don’t want the police called on us,” Schirber says. Another item identifies storage areas. So, for instance, where to put that kitchen cabinet that just arrived, even though the cabinets aren’t scheduled to be installed for another five days?

—Jim Cory is editor of REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR, a sister publication of REMODELING.