Manage my expectations

About a month ago I moved into an “as-is” rental house. I won't bore you with the complications and details of how I got here, but the house is in a tiny lakefront community in northwestern Pennsylvania. As I type this, I'm sitting on the deck overlooking the lake, a warm breeze blows and my two dogs are nearby. A bald eagle soared overhead just moments ago. I can't imagine a more peaceful work environment.

The inside isn't so tranquil, though. The house was devoid of appliances, and of flooring in the master bedroom, sunroom and kitchen. The appliances were easy enough to quickly install, but the flooring has become a source of stress. After selecting basic material for each room, I'm in a waiting game for the installers to call. Because the floorless rooms must be kept empty for the installers, I’ve been unable to fully unpack. The house often feels more like a storage facility than a home. I'm told installation could take up to a month from the time of order, so I could have this unfinished house for several more weeks.

Although my home improvement project is miniscule compared to the projects in the pages of this magazine and what you manage on a day-to-day basis, it causes me significant stress, and I have to restrain myself from being that customer who calls the flooring people every day for an installation update. I guess you could say I'm that client of theirs who needs to be managed.

The remodeler survey series on page 44 discusses just this – managing client expectations. How do you best deal with a customer like me who expects the work to be done yesterday? Or what about the clients who think they can complete a $25,000 remodel project for only $15,000?

Qualified Remodeler received mixed results when asking which aspect of client management is most time consuming, although most respondents indicated it was a combination of budget, schedule and design. But no matter what each respondent indicated was most difficult, every survey participant agreed communication is vital to keeping expectations in line. Keeping your customer updated about changes, no matter how diminutive they may seem, goes a long way to maintaining a healthy relationship and keeping a happy client. 

Being diligent about communication and the relationship it yields can also lead to a stunning project and sometimes years-long relationships. This issue of Qualified Remodeler features four notable home transformations. The Master Design Solutions story, page 14, profiles a garage that found new life as a home office – complete with a 500-gallon fish tank. This remodel wasn’t the first time the clients had used Stan Better Construction either; they’ve called upon him numerous times throughout the past two decades, and Better even designed and built their local synagogue. Better notes a “very good rapport” with the wife, which is, perhaps, why they’ve teamed on so many projects.

Or take Design Solutions, page 18. This remodel more than doubled the size of a historical almost 80-year-old home in Texas wine country. Bath Solutions, page 22, addresses how a remodeler and a client worked together to achieve a master suite remodel inspired by an online photo and material spotted in a showroom, while Exterior Solutions, page 24, details how an exterior facelift could provide an aesthetic wow while meeting seismic codes.

Where has solid communication and effective management with clients led you? Send us an email at or tweet us at @QualifiedRemod.