Construction is messy, there is just no getting around it. No matter what it is you’re building, what system, what materials, there is always a residual mess that is created after the process finishes. This is true of just about every phase of a typical construction project. Consider the site clearing and prep; all of the topsoil is removed, the stumps pulled from the ground, and the underbrush cleared resulting in a nice space for digging your foundation, but all of that debris has to be taken care of. Framing: raw materials are cut to fit their spaces, but the leftover scraps have to be handled. Drywall…you know what a mess that can be. The end result of all this mess is a great thing, but the problem many contractors run into is not handling the leftover mess every day. Creating a clean jobsite will benefit you in three major ways: happier clients, improved efficiency, and increased likelihood of contact from potential clients who saw your work in progress.
First, let’s consider the effects of and how a messy jobsite makes your clients feel. Especially if we are talking about remodeling inside their existing home! Keeping a clients home neat and tidy is a simple courtesy that must be extended if you want to maintain a good relationship throughout the project. Additionally, a messy jobsite is the quickest way to ruin an otherwise excellent walkthrough with a client. From experience, I have found that clients are much more likely to criticize or find fault in a project if the jobsite is messy. This is very apparent if that mess is garbage. And we should distinguish between garbage and construction debris. Construction debris are those pieces of scrap lumber or drywall left over at the end of the day. Garbage is your lunch paper and napkins. Garbage should be thrown away immediately, not at the end of the day. Keep the site clean and your clients will treat you like the professional you are.
A clean jobsite is an efficient jobsite. Is it easier to work in a clean space, or a cluttered space? By keeping your project site in good order and clear of debris, you will find tasks not only happen faster, but with improved quality. You don’t like to work with asphalt shingle scraps lying all over your desk do you? Why would a siding contractor or grader want to? Also, remodeling projects in particular can be very detail oriented. Remembering where you need blocking in the wall, where chases go, where the new plumbing drops go are easy to lose track of if the site is messy.
The attractiveness of a clean jobsite cannot be overstated. Consider the following scenarios: A potential client drives by a house under construction with Tyvec paper flapping in the wind, garbage lying around, and lumber scraps strewn about the site, versus, a spotless site with everything in its place. Which site is a prospect more likely to take an interest in? A clean jobsite translates into a profession builder or remodeler in the mind of a prospect. Not convinced? Who is more likely to win a job interview, the person who looks like he just got out of bed 5 minutes ago and didn’t comb his hair, or the one who shows up put together. Your project site is going on a job interview for you every day, so make sure it looks ready for that interview.
So, how do you go about achieving a cleaner jobsite? Start with yourself. If you happen to create trash or debris on a jobsite, make sure you are setting a good example by putting it where it belongs. I would also from time to time, take out a broom and clean up other people’s messes on the site yourself. The impression that will leave on others who see the boss cleaning up is worth the effort and will pay dividends. Second, before a project starts, review your expectations with all of the tradesmen involved so they know you expect a clean jobsite after they finish every day. Last, at the end of meetings you have on site with your employees or tradesmen, remind them about the importance of a clean jobsite.
Ben Johnson, CPBD, MCGP, CAPS, works for Will Johnson Building Company, a Chapel Hill, North Carolina based residential and light commercial design build firm. They specialize in high end custom homes and renovations. Ben has managed and designed projects ranging in size from small bathroom renovations to 9,000 square foot homes. He is also a District Director for the American Institute of Building Designers.