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Are you a difficult client?

Railing_2See how the wood fails to line up on this railing?

Would you accept this? But see how it looks in the bigger picture below? Not so bad?

So-called difficult clients will insist the rails be lined up better, even though it’s in a far corner of a deck and will soon be covered with vines. Easygoing clients (like the folks who own this house) will say, hey, it’s fine, it’s not rocket science.

Some people have a lower tolerance for imperfections in the built world and get very stressed out by the ups and downs of a remodeling job, and these people are often labeled “difficult.”

You may be a difficult client if you say things like this:

• I am much pickier than most people. • I lose my temper often. • I do not tolerate mistakes. • Workmanship these days is awful. • I’ll be watching these workers like a hawk. • You mess with me and I’ll sue.

Railing2You are not a difficult client if you say things like “It’s not brain surgery, it’s a remodel,” or “Remodeling is an art form.” I’ve heard these comments from homeowners, and they are not difficult clients.

If you are a difficult client, it’s a good time to do a remodel. That’s because in a slow market like we’re in now, remodeling contractors are not so picky about the jobs they take on. In a more robust market, contractors find ways to avoid working for difficult clients. That’s because difficult clients cause a lot of stress for a company’s employees, and in busy times it’s easier to find another client than another employee.

If you are a difficult client, you should either do the remodeling work yourself, or hire a company who is known for satisfying really picky people. Don’t get a referral from an easygoing friend. Get a referral from the most particular person you know.


You might even tell the remodeling company to assign to your job the project manager with the most complete set of people skills, not a newbie.

Finally, you might hand your project manager a copy of an article called How Homebuilders Can Deal With Difficult Customers, which came out in the July issue of Professional Remodeler magazine. Here are some tips from the piece:

• Listen to the customers’ complaint and acknowledge their right to make it.
• Avoid emotional reactions or phrases.
• Keep the focus of the conversation on the actual problem.
• Ask customers what type of resolution they want.

This last tip is a good one to remember. Before you state your complaint to the remodeling company doing your job, think about how you want it resolved and communicate that clearly.

Contractors dish about troubles with clients

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