What Makes a Construction Proposal So Important?

It’s Like Quality Construction, It Sets You Apart as a Professional

As Gene is driving to his weekly Saturday training with John, he remembers how hard it was in the beginning to convince himself to take the time to learn this system and how glad he is that he did. He thinks back over what he’s learned during the past several weeks:

Gene’s getting excited as he pulls up to the SMR Construction Company office. Today they are going to put all the pieces together, creating a finished proposal.

After John and Gene have some lunch and get caught up on the past week’s events, John asked Gene, “You know how exciting it is when you see a new home coming to completion after starting with nothing but a blueprint? That is what we’re going to do today…we’re going to see…

A proposal taken from blueprint to reality.

Let’s get started.

The final step in preparing the Proposal is to transfer the information from the Scope of Work and the Worksheet to the Proposal template.

Start out by opening a Proposal template from the Building a Better Proposal tool.

If you use a project number, insert it behind the number sign at the top of the page, below the proposal title. Next, insert the customer and project information in the open areas as it pertains to the project.

Insert your company name at the beginning of the introductory sentence.

Copy and paste the description of the work to be performed and material to be supplied from the Scope of Work in the body of the Proposal template.

Next, take the prices from the Worksheet for each individual task described on the Proposal, and place it under each task on the right side of the page. At the end of each section, put the total price for that section. This allows the customer to see a price for each section, i.e. foundation, framing, roofing, etc.

Now that the description of the work to be performed, the materials to be used, the prices for each task, and the subtotals of each section have been placed on the Proposal, it’s time for the project subtotal to be inserted at the bottom. Insert a separate price for the sales tax below the subtotal. Sales tax rates will be determined by the location where the work is to be performed.

Next insert the project total after, “For the Sum Of:” on the Proposal both in written and numerical forms, this duplication (just like on a check) helps with clarity.

Now that you have a project total you need to determine how payments will be made. There are several different factors which can determine how this will be done, i.e. the size of the project, when material will be ordered and/or paid for, the financing of the project, your personal preferences, etc. This could be done at the completion of set production tasks, scheduled times (weekly, monthly, etc.) or when the project is finished.

Determining the date in which the Proposal will expire will be up to you. If the Proposal includes some materials that fluctuate in price often then you may want the expiration date to be sooner rather than later. A standard time frame is 30 days.

The duration of time to complete the project can be determined from the Worksheet. At the bottom of the Worksheet there are four cells, with corresponding amounts for each category.

The Labor Price is the total amount of labor costfor the project. The Hours, is the total man hours needed for the project, dividing the hours by $60/hr. This hourly rate can be adjusted to whatever dollar amount you determine. The Days are the total hours divided by 7 hours of production per day. The Weeks are total working days divided by 5 days of production per week. You then have the number of working days needed to complete the project. This will then be entered into the corresponding blank space on the Proposal. It’s a good idea to add a little more time for the unplanned.

You now have completed the proposal!

At this point I recommend going back through and proofreading the scope of work for each task, checking the math to make sure that the prices on the Proposal add up correctly. Don’t be surprised if a few of the numbers on the Worksheet totals are off a cent or two from the total on the Proposal. This happens sometimes due the combinations of formulas on the spreadsheet. The most important thing is that the prices on the Proposal add up correctly.

Now sign the proposal and deliver it to the customer.”

John looks over at Gene and asks, “Well what do you think?”

Gene smiles and says, “You’re right. It does feel like seeing a house where there wasn’t one before. It’s very satisfying.”

“Know this Gene, it’s also going to be like building the first house. You’re going to have questions when you start using the proposal system. Start using it and let me know when you have questions. It will be tempting to go back to doing bids like you used to, but don’t.

Providing proposals like this communicates clearly with customers and prevents misunderstandings. It gives you a production budget and scope of work for the production crews which increases your bottom line. This is different than how most companies do proposals and will set you apart as a reliable professional.

“Next week we’ll review your experience and spend our time answering those questions.

Now go use this tool and start building better proposals.”

Previous posts in this series:

What is “business clarity” and how do you find it?

What Does it Take to Build a Successful Construction Company

It’s Time for the First Meeting

Being Aware of Bid Mistakes is the Best Way to Avoid Them

Constructing a Building is Better with a Plan, a Proposal is No Different

Do You Want to do a Good Construction Proposal?

What is a Construction Scope of Work and Why Do You Need One?

What Makes a Construction Project Most Profitable?

How Can We Raise the Bar of Construction Contractor Expectations?

With An Eye-opening Process to Hold Contractors to a Higher Standard

I read a study years ago that ranked building contractors below used car salesmen. This might not be a bad thing if used car salesmen didn’t have a reputation of…shall we say…not putting the customer’s needs first.

For builders to have been ranked below used car salesmen was very confusing and more than a little disturbing.

Then realized that I viewed customers differently than a lot of builders. For me they aren’t just customers, a project or just a way to earn money. These people have put their trust in me to build them their dream.

Over the years as I have discussed building projects with a lot of people, the number of times that I have heard construction customers say, “It was the worst experience of my life” is unacceptable.

A construction project should be among the best experiences, not the worst.

Many people only get the opportunity to experience a construction project once, especially if it’s a large one like building a new home. This makes it even more critical that we as construction contractors serve every one of our customers in a professional manner.

In a previous post about construction contractor etiquette, I shared a story of a friend meeting with a plumber. While they were in the kitchen discussing the project, the plumber who was chewing tobacco spit tobacco juice in her sink. Not just once mind you, but 3-4 times! He at least had the courtesy to turn the water on and rinse out the sink.   

When the customer told me this story, she was still surprised about this and the plumber…he didn’t even realize he had done anything wrong.

This kind of behavior is a problem and it’s no wonder that contractors have a worse reputation than used car salesmen.

Considering some situations that I’ve seen or heard, it is apparent that this problem needs our attention.

Whether it’s –

  • Standing in a customer’s upholstered chair using it for a ladder
  • Leaving an electric circuit turned off over the weekend which had a customer’s freezer plugged in to it
  • Laying down after lunch and taking a nap on a customer’s couch
  • Throwing food trash in the void behind a wall and leaving it
  • Or…spitting tobacco juice in a customer’s sink

These kinds of things are unacceptable.

The level of expectations for construction contractors has gotten so low that these kinds of actions have become the norm. 

The problem is the unawareness that there is a problem.

If this is going to change, we need to raise the bar. We’ve got to hold ourselves and each other, to a higher standard.

We need construction contractor etiquette.

The word etiquette doesn’t sound like a construction term. However, I think the definition of etiquette speaks to this issue perfectly. Etiquette is a code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other and customers.

What would this code of ethical behavior look like for construction contractors?

It would be things that a professional builder would be expected to do:

  • Communicate – Let the customer know what to expect. Return calls, send contracts in advance, sign papers in a timely manner. Remember that they don’t do construction everyday like you do.
  • Listen – This is the most important part of communicating. You need to hear what the customer is saying. This is more than just their words. It means really listening to their hopes and desires and understanding their dreams.
  • Be on time – Show up when you say you will. If you’re going to be late, call and let the customer know. Respect their time.
  • Be responsive – Return communications in a reasonable amount of time. They just want to know that you hear them and care.
  • Be accountable – If you or someone on your team make a mistake, own up to it. Don’t blame someone else. Keep the job site “clean”.  Pick up your lunch trash and water bottles. Dust will be expected, but use plastic tarps, if possible, to contain the dust and/or clean areas if it gets out of hand. Be aware of landscaping.  Don’t park in yards or walk on flowers or other plants. If it’s necessary to work in these areas, do it with respect.

Some of this content is from Construction Etiquette by Stefaney Rants.

We need to use the Golden Rule for contractors and treat construction customers the way they should be treated, not the way they normally are.


  1. If you open it, close it.
  2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
  3. If you unlock it, lock it up.
  4. If you break it, admit it.
  5. If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
  6. If you borrow it, return it.
  7. If you value it, take care of it.
  8. If you make a mess clean it up.
  9. If you move it, put it back.
  10.  If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.
  11.  If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
  12.  If it’s none of your business, stay out of it.
  13.  If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.
  14.  If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.

As professionals it is up to us to do something about this.

So, what are we going to do?

The first thing is to be aware of the problem. If we ignore it, it won’t go away; it will continue to get worse. This means that we need to hold each other accountable for our actions. As professionals, if we see something unacceptable being done, we need to call each other out with respect and in private. This isn’t about public humiliation. It’s about raising the bar. It’s about the customer.

In the second part of this series of posts, we’ll begin to look at the process for holding ourselves and each other to a higher standard.

Contractors get ready…the BAR IS BEING RAISED.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Know Everything About Everything?

But Since This is Impossible, I Recommend Getting the Help of a Professional

You’ve probably met people that think they know everything about everything. And there is no convincing them otherwise.

There certainly are people who know more than I do, but it’s not about knowing everything or who knows the most.

It’s about knowing what you know and using that knowledge to help others.

Last week I wrote about construction questions and answers. I used a window project as an example. You might remember that the customer had received a quote for more than $36,000 to replace thirteen windows.

After I looked at the project it was clear that only one needed replaced. I told you that I would let you know what I came up with. I gave them a proposal to replace one window and repair some of the wood finish on the rest.

My price for this was $4,771.71. That’s 86% less than the original price.

It’s less about the price and more about the work that “actually” needed to be done.

The real issue with this project like many others is in finding what the customer needs and not trying to sell them as much as you can. The focus on selling rather than service is prevalent.

This level of service requires asking questions and listening to the answers. Finding out what it is that the customer wants and needs.

This is what professionals do. Professionals help you find the solution to YOUR problem, not give you a one size fits all answer.

Because we don’t know everything about everything, means we need to find someone that knows something about something.

I’m sure I could find information about how to do brain surgery online…but if I needed brain surgery…I would find someone that has experience and specializes in that. I haven’t seen any DIY brain surgery shows yet.

Granted, if you have a construction project go bad it’s not the same as brain surgery.

My point is this. When doing a construction project, you may not even know what you don’t know. This is where the guidance of a professional comes in. This is not to say that every building contractor is a competent, skilled professional.

I’ve heard too many people complain about their bad construction experience. Every time it came down to them making decisions without due diligence.

Almost always it comes down to being sold rather than serviced.

To minimize the bad construction experience you need to be clear on what’s most important. Is it price or quality? Is it having it done fast or waiting for the skilled professional?

Most of our construction projects come from references and recommendations. The ones that don’t start with building a relationship, not selling.

If you or someone you know is considering a construction project, I would recommend spending the time and energy in finding the right professional and asking the right questions.

How to Decide If You Should Do Your Construction Project Yourself

Consider These 4 Points Before You Decide

I met with a customer recently about finishing a project that had been started eight years ago…it’s still not done. They haven’t even been able to live there this entire time. Yes, it was an extensive project…for that matter it still is.

They did most of the work themselves. The question is…

Were the monetary savings worth the cost of time?

As a builder, I’ve never been a big fan of DIY (Do It Yourself). The TV programs have whole projects done in 30-60 minutes. This is misleading, not to mention downright impossible.

Don’t get me wrong, the satisfaction that comes from doing a repair, changing a light switch or faucet, installing a window, building a deck or even remodeling a complete room can be extremely rewarding. The thing is…

You better know what you are getting into before you start.

Here are some things to consider before you decide:

  • Reasons for hiring a professional –

You need to consider what your skill level is and what the parameters of the project are, before tearing into it. Depending on the specific project there are a lot of things to be aware of.

Even something as simple as painting a wall can be more complicated than many people realize. If your project is going to involve things that are structural; for example, cutting an opening in a wall or building a deck, you certainly need to understand what is involved. Not knowing how to do something like this can lead to big problems.

  • Benefits of hiring a professional –

Time is a precious commodity. If you are like me, I am never able to get everything done that I want to. So, when I find someone that I can trust, who I have determined has the desire and skills to do the thing that I need done, it makes sense to pay them to do it? This allows me to be able to do something else that I am better suited for or maybe would just prefer doing.

Growing up on a farm was very “Do It Yourself. I learned how to do a lot of different things. We just didn’t hire much of anything done. Learning like this took years and lots of trial and error. I didn’t just watch a 30-minute TV program or go online to learn it.

I am sure that I could make a car given enough time and money, but doesn’t it make more sense to buy one made by professionals.

  • Reasons for not hiring a professional –

The key here is defining ‘professional’. If you’re considering hiring someone then you need to do some research. There are a lot of people out there that seem to be qualified and aren’t. If you hire someone that isn’t then the outcome might not be much different than doing it yourself.

Maybe you have the time and desire to learn something new. This is a great reason for doing the project yourself. Just be careful to not get in too far over your head. Be clear on what it’s going to take to do this.

You can save money by not paying somebody else. Just be aware that there is a lot to a project beyond the actual constructing. There will, or at least should be, time spent in researching, planning, shopping, buying, exchanging, returning, redoing and cleaning.

It is good to be physically active. Depending on your normal routine construction can be a great way to exercise.

  • Another option – Hiring a consultant.

If you really want to do your own home project, but need some help with knowing how, what, when and where. You might consider finding an experienced professional to guide you through the process. Finding the right person for this can be as tricky as anything. Just realize the value of knowledge and the benefit that it can have.

If you have questions about a construction project or know someone who does, contact us in the chat below.

It comes down to priorities. You can choose where to spend your time and money, what’s the best use of either? Saving money by spending time seems like a good plan… but is it really, if eight years later it still isn’t finished.

With over 35 years of construction experience I have determined that getting help is a good plan. I can’t do everything myself…as much as I would like to. That’s why I share the load with others.

Once you have determined that you have the ability (knowledge, time, money, and physical strength) to do your project, then by all means, go for it.

There’s nothing much more rewarding than stepping back and looking at something you built with your own hands.

Based on and revised from To Hire or Not to Hire, that is the Question, published Aug. 12, 2016

What is it About Proposals That Construction Companies Don’t Like?

That’s Okay…I Think They Want to Know Too

Last week I wrote about making construction proposals better. I shared some of the problems caused when communication with customers isn’t clear. As a business owner you are the professional and it’s your responsibility to provide clear communication.

A professional is one who is engaged in or suitable for a specific profession; is engaged in a given activity as a source of livelihood or career; having or showing great skill, an expert.

If you’re in the business of construction and aren’t providing your customers with a clear description of the work you are going to do, including an accurate and set price, then you are operating as an amateur. Someone who engages in an occupation on an unpaid basis; someone who is incompetent or inept at a particular activity.

A professional takes their occupation more seriously than an amateur.

If a construction company strives to be professional, why would they not provide their customers with a thorough and accurate proposal? I think there are four main reasons for this.

Don’t have enough time – It takes more time to prepare a detailed written proposal than scratching out a few numbers quickly. People in the construction industry are already so busy they struggle to keep up. Having limited time to get the physical work done, it’s hard to spend any preparing proposals. The problem is, without an accurate proposal that communicates clearly, the chances of losing money increases.

Spending the time in the beginning will pay dividends in the end.

Don’t like doing paperwork – I started doing construction because I loved to build, to see something that I built with my own hands. This is how most people in construction feel. They learned the trade and like it. The problem is that no one ever taught them business operations. Doing paperwork doesn’t feel like construction. They don’t get the same rewarding feeling as they do from building something.

Without accurate paperwork building becomes a hobby.

No one ever taught me – It’s hard to know how to do something if you’ve never been shown how. When you learned your trade, you didn’t start out knowing how. You learned it over time with someone showing you or through trial and error. Either way the learning process took time. The important thing to remember is, the more tips and tricks you were shown the quicker you learned. Aren’t you glad that someone taught you the trade?

It’s never to late to learn something new.

This is the way we’ve always done it – The older we get, the less we like change and contractors are among the worst. You’ve figured out something that works, or at least seems to, why change. Just because what you’re currently doing seems to work…it doesn’t mean that there isn’t something better. If you hadn’t gone through the process of falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up, you would still be crawling.

Aren’t you glad you tried something different?

What if I told you –  

  • The time you spend doing proposals will provide you peace of mind and more consistent revenue.
  • You don’t have to do paperwork if you hate it.
  • I can teach you how to do proposals just like you learned your trade.
  • Change is the only way you will stop crawling.

Doing proposals before you’re ready feels like trying to run a marathon when all you know is how to crawl.

Communicating clearly through proposals is the act of a professional. If you want to learn how to do professional proposals, check out our Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal.

If you have other reasons that you or someone you know doesn’t do proposals, let us know in the comments below.

Here is the Million Dollar Question

What if There Was a Way to Combine DIY and Professional Construction?

The question is probably more like a billion dollar one. The DIY industry is booming. It’s everywhere we look, TV commercials, internet ads, home improvement programs and online videos. There’s simply a level of pride that goes with doing things ourselves.

Why is the DIY industry so popular and prevalent?

That would be because the construction industry has let too many people down through a whole list of things. These problems certainly are good reasons to consider a DIY project. Here are a few other reasons you might think about doing your own construction project.

Price – is the number one reason for doing your own projects or being your own general contractor. Construction is expensive and the cost of professionals and general contractor’s markups are dollars saved.  

The important thing to consider is…

What are the dollars saved costing you?

As a professional I have witnessed too many DIY projects that have gone badly. The experience factor goes a long way to avoid problems. Depending on where you’re located, some construction actions require licensed professionals to do them. You probably wouldn’t stitch up your own gaping wound or represent yourself in court. Not that both haven’t been done, but they come with a risk. The cost of your time spent doing this rather than that, doing things over, unsolved problems or project disasters can be expensive.

The value of a professional often exceeds the cost.

Control – is another important issue that customers face. The construction industry has one of the worst satisfaction ratings. The only one ranked worse is the used car business. In too many cases customers have felt out of control. This makes it understandable why you would prefer to not deal with contractors. There is a comfort that comes from being in control of the project even with little or no experience.

Sense of accomplishment – is one of the best feelings that we experience. This feeling is especially connected with seeing a physical achievement. Stepping back and looking at something we built is satisfying. These are legitimate reasons you might consider doing your own construction project.

What if there was a way to do your own project while having access to professional experience, knowledge, and connections?

Wouldn’t this be great. This would be a win – win. If there was such a plan out there. What would something like this even look like? What would it include?

You might say, “There’s already services out there for connecting me with construction services. I can contact Angie’s List or Home Advisor.” The problem with these services is, the list of companies and individuals they provide to you, pays to be on the list. I know because they’re calling me regularly wanting me to pay dues and join. This isn’t the most reliable resource.

I’m considering something that would be more detailed and customizable. A service that would fit your individual needs. A mix of educating, advising, consulting. Something that would allow you to have your questions for your project answered.

This would allow you to “do it yourself” with the benefit of professional guidance.

As we research this service, we need your help. Give us your thoughts by taking this short survey or leaving comments below.

The Bulk of The Communication Responsibility Lies on The Contractor






How To Build A Better Proposal



Every contractor, at some time, has had an unhappy customer. This is almost always due to poor communication and/or a lack of understanding. It may have been some small misunderstanding or might have been major enough to result in being fired or going to court.

Several years ago, a partner and I were meeting with a customer early in the process of building a new home. The customer pointed out that the distance from the electric meter to the house was more than the 50’ allowance, as per the written proposal.

He asked if this was a problem. My partner told him no, it wasn’t a problem. Guess what…

It was a problem.

The problem didn’t surface until later when the customer was billed for the additional 100’. After some digging, the communication breakdown was uncovered.

The customer asked, “if it was a problem”. What he really was asking was…”is it going to cost more?”.

My partner’s response in reality was, “we can dig the additional 100’, but it will cost you three times as much as the allowance in the proposal”. This isn’t what was said.

Neither individual intended nor expected this to be a problem. It was a simple matter of misunderstanding…a lack of communication.

Communication is, …the exchange of information and the expression of feelings that result in understanding.



Understanding is the tricky part.

Why is it that contractors don’t communicate clearly through concise written proposals to customers? Here are the four main reasons for this:

First is time – It takes more time to prepare a detailed written proposal. We’re already so busy that we can’t keep up and with the limited time we have, we aren’t going to spend it on preparing a proposal.

Second is comfort – I started this company because I loved to build, plumb, wire, pour concrete, roof, etc., etc. The trade is what I know, and I don’t like doing paperwork, I want to go swing a hammer.

Third is knowledge – It’s hard to know how long something is going to take or how much material is going to cost. If I give the customer an approximate price or even better if I can just get paid for time and material, I know I won’t lose any money.

Fourth is no system – When we started the company, no one ever explained the importance of having a business system in place. A business system is the blueprint for building your business. Detailed proposals are one of the foundational pieces needed to keep it from collapsing.

These are four valid reasons for avoiding doing proposals, but…

The cost of not preparing detailed proposals, is far more expensive.

The customer also has some responsibility in preventing construction projects from falling apart and the high cost of poor communication. This whole construction process is overwhelming to most customers and they need to know what should be included in the communication

But the customer isn’t an experienced contractor that does this for a living.

If only there was a process for doing proposals that:

  • Saved time.
  • Could be done by office staff.
  • Didn’t require a four-year degree or twenty years of on the job training.
  • Included all the necessary parts and pieces

What if I told you that there is such a system and you could have it? There is and it’s going to become available in the next few months. Over the next several weeks we are going to breakdown the system, go through the different documents and processes in detail and explain how it works.

Remember that we are the professionals and the bulk of the communication responsibility lies on us.

Painting the Interior of Your Home – Part 3

The Final Step in Achieving Your Desired Outcome

Two weeks ago, we discussed the process of determining which paint is best for your project and choosing the colors. Last week I told you about the different tools and equipment you will need. Now, give me a roller, I’m ready to put some paint on the walls.

Not so fast. Using these steps and simple tips will make for less mess, a more productive use of your time and a finished project that will rival the professionals.

Start at the beginning.

Preparing the room before you open the first can of paint will pay dividends in the end. This is my recommended order, but these steps can vary for your particular situation or preference.

1 – Remove ceiling fan blade and/or light fixture globes. Cover the fixture base with masking tape and plastic.

2 – Remove furniture from the room if possible or move it to the center of the room if not. The less you have to work around the easier it will make the job. If you leave furniture in the room cover the floor where the furniture will go, set the furniture on the covering, then cover the furniture.

3 – Remove area rugs, window treatments, wall hangings (including nails and/or screws) and switch and receptacle cover plates, anything that you can, that you don’t want painted or broken.

4 – Cover floor with drop cloths, plastic or a combination depending on your preference. Drop cloths are a less slick surface and are designed to be reused. Plastic is slicker to walk on and moves around more but can be thrown away when you’re finished.

5 – Check walls for damaged areas or nail holes that need to be repaired or filled. Fill larger repairs with light weight spackle or drywall compound. Fill nail and screw holes that won’t be reused with light weight spackle or caulking. Make sure repairs are smooth and ready for paint by sanding if needed.

6 – If the window and door casing and/or the base board are going to be painted then caulk gaps between the trim and the wall. If it’s not going to be painted…

7 – Tape off window and door trim and base board with masking tape and plastic unless you’re really good with a paint brush.

8 – Clean the walls. The best way to do this depends on the finished texture of the wall. If it’s smooth, it can be wiped down with a damp cloth. If it’s textured start with a shop vac using a brush attachment and then wipe down with a damp cloth. If it has been painted prior, then clean the walls with soap or a mild cleaner and water. Make sure it’s dry before applying primer or paint.

Start at the top and work your way down. Gravity works on drips, splatters and runs just like everything else. Not to say that Paint can’t fly up off a roller, etc., but the odds are in your favor when you begin with the ceiling. The directions included here are based on painting both walls and ceiling. Just like preparing the room, this is the order I recommend.

1 – Start by cutting in the ceiling. Paint a 2”-3” strip from the wall and around fixtures on the ceiling. This allows you to get the roller close (if you’re really careful) without getting paint on the walls. The brush and roller leave the paint with a different pattern. This is why it is better to cut in with the brush first and then to roll as close to the edge as possible for a more uniform finish.

2 – Using a roller and extension pole, start at a wall on the short side of the room. Roll long strokes, maintaining a wet edge. If you’re painting unpainted drywall, I recommend using a primer. The primer provides adhesion to the surface. After the primer has dried then apply the paint. Typically, ceilings are painted with a low sheen flat finish.

3 – After the ceiling is finished next come the walls. Some people prefer to start with the millwork, and some would rather do it last. It’s up to you which you prefer. Either way when painting the walls cutting in is next thing. Start by painting a 2”-3” strip on the wall from the ceiling. Next paint a 2”-3” strip both ways in wall corners unless two connecting walls are going to be different colors. Paint a 2”-3” wide strip around all window and door casing, baseboard and any other fixed object.

4 – Using a roller and extension pole, start at a corner of the room. Working away from the corner roll long strokes, maintaining a wet edge. Just like the ceiling, if you’re painting unpainted drywall use a primer. After the primer has dried then apply the paint. I recommend putting on two coats for better coverage and durability.

5 – Once the paint has dried remove the tape and plastic. Be careful when pulling the tape that you pull away from the finished surface. This will give a cleaner finished paint line. Like with painting if you start at the top and work your way down it will make clean up easier. Pull the plastic from the corners of the room rolling it into itself, keeping the majority of the mess inside, then throw it away.

6 – Now it’s time to move things back into the room and enjoy the fresh new look. Be careful with the fresh paint for a few days, it is softer and more easily damaged until it has finished curing.

Tips and technics:

• Hold the brush close to the bristles, it gives you more control.

• Only dip ¼ to ½ of the bristles (approximately 1”-2”) into the paint. Anymore is unnecessary, it’s messier, wasteful and harder to clean up.

• To minimize drips, tap or lightly wipe one side of the bristles on the top edge of the can.

• Put holes in the bottom of the groove around the top edge of the paint can where the lid sets down in using a small punch or a nail. This allows the paint that gets caught in the groove to escape back into the can when putting the lid back on.

• When cutting in with a brush start at a corner and work away from it initially. Then reverse your direction by starting the next stroke away from the corner and working back over the previously applied paint. Continue this process with each new dipping of the brush.

• To get the cleanest paint line use a tapered brush and parallel the width of the brush with the corner. Begin with the bristles a little way from the corner and then as you move the brush parallel with the corner gradually move closer to the corner.

• When rolling paint on large flat surfaces, i.e. walls and ceilings, start in a corner. As you apply more paint move to just past the previously painted area and while rolling back and forth work back over the previously painted area. Continue this process as you work across the surface being painted. This helps prevent having thin spots and paint lines.

• Roll the paint from top to bottom on a wall, especially with higher sheen finishes. When only rolling a top or bottom portion of a wall there is a risk of there being an area of heavier coverage in the middle and often this will be visible and create a horizontal paint line on the middle of the wall.
Painting is one of the things that many times people do themselves to save money. Really, how hard can it be to just roll some paint on a wall?
As you can see in in this “How to Paint the Interior of Your Home” series of posts…there’s more to doing a painting project “well” than it appears. Before you start painting you need to consider the amount of time and effort you will spend. Even though the price for hiring a professional seems expensive, you need to determine what your time is worth. Because, it will take longer than you think.

Sherwin-Williams has a great web site for more details on How to Paint Your Home’s Interior.

If you have any paint stories or questions that you would like to share post them in the comments section below.

A Missing Piece of The Puzzle

What Ever Happened to Contractor Etiquette?

Last week I wrote about etiquette after a friend had a plumber spit tobacco juice in her sink while they were talking. The lack of professional conduct (especially in the building industry) baffles me. As I have been considering this topic it’s become apparent to me that this piece of the professional puzzle is missing and needs to be found.

Where has this important piece of the business relationship puzzle gone?

It’s easy to find, but hard to put in place. This puzzle piece is right here in each of us. The problem is the unawareness that it’s even missing. We’ve become so busy in this fast paced, need to get things done life, that we’ve become self-centered. Not necessarily in an intentional knocking people out of my way selfishness. Its more production focused rather than people focused. As I think back on situations that I’ve witness or heard of, it is apparent that this problem needs attention. Whether it’s –

  • Standing in a customer’s upholstered chair using it for a ladder
  • Leaving an electric circuit turned off over a weekend which had a customer’s freezer plugged in to it
  • Laying down after lunch and taking a nap on a customer’s couch
  • Throwing food trash in the void behind a stone veneer and leaving it or
  • Spitting tobacco juice in a sink

As professionals it is up to us to do something about this.

So, what are we going to do?

The first thing is to be aware of the problem. If we ignore it, it won’t go away, it will continue to get worse. This means that we need to hold each other accountable for our actions. As professionals, if we see something unacceptable being done, we need to call each other out with respect and in private. This isn’t about public humiliation. It’s about raising the bar. The difficult thing is my acceptable behavior and yours may be different. That’s why we need to find a reasonable standard.

Here’s a good place to start –


  1. If you open it, close it.
  2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
  3. If you unlock it, lock it up.
  4. If you break it, admit it.
  5. If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
  6. If you borrow it, return it.
  7. If you value it, take care of it.
  8. If you make a mess clean it up.
  9. If you move it, put it back.
  10. If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.
  11. If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
  12. If it’s none of your business, stay out of it.
  13. If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.
  14. If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.

Okay…so these are the same as the Golden Rules for Living in last week’s post. If they make sense for life, they make sense for business.

In my research I came across a Construction Etiquette blog post by Stefaney Rants. She points out some specific etiquette for the contractor to the customer.

  • Return calls, send contracts in advance, sign papers in a timely manner.
  • Be on time!  If you are going to be late, call the home owner.
  • Keep the job site “clean”.  Have the crew pick up their lunch trash and water bottles.  Ask the home owner for recycling bins.  Dust will be expected, but use a plastic tarp if possible to contain the dust and/or clean some areas if it gets out of hand, like on the home owners grill for example.
  • Be aware of landscaping.  Don’t park on flower beds or other plants.
  • If something breaks, let the home owner know!  You want to keep a good reputation and the home owner will definitely tell their friends about your work.

She also lists some etiquette for the customer to the contractor. Next week we will approach this missing puzzle piece from that perspective.

Contractors – start working on your business relationships – the BAR IS BEING RAISED.

Christmas Is About Giving, Business Should Be Too

How Do We Know What to Give Without A List?

Last week I wrote about the coming new year and our excitement about the possibilities and opportunities it will present. This week I’m going to back up just a little (chronologically) to focus on Christmas (considering that it is just a few days away).

Christmas at its very foundation means giving. “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life.” John 3:16, ERV. We’re talking about the ultimate gift. The giving of His child to be mistreated and ultimately killed on a cross. This Holiday is the celebration of that Child’s birth.

“God created humans in His own image. He created them to be like himself.” Genesis 1:27 ERV. If we have been created in His image, then shouldn’t we be willing to give. Isn’t this a part of who we have been put here on earth to be?

What does giving look like in business?

It doesn’t mean we do work for free. It doesn’t mean that if we win the customer loses or the other way around. Business isn’t supposed to be a win-lose arrangement. It can and should be a win-win.

Once again, this last week I met with another couple in the middle of a remodeling project that has taken a bad turn…they had to fire their contractor. What should have been the fulfilling of their dream turned into a nightmare. This was primarily due to a breakdown in communication. As professional builders, or businesses of any kind, this responsibility is ours. This is such a big problem. I have written about it as much or more than any other.

Here are links to some of those “Weekly Solutions”:

So, how do we know what it is that the customer wants? WE ASK THEM

This seems to be a no brainer, but for whatever reason the question doesn’t get asked, not really. The basics get discussed and everybody thinks they know what the outcome is going to be, but some where in the process things go off track. It takes time and effort to dig deep and find the underlying dream. This is critical to the project being a win-win.

It’s like finding out what a child wants for Christmas. Sure, we can go get them a gift and it might be something they like but, the odds aren’t very good. Or, we can have them fill out a Christmas list. If we don’t understand something on the list, we can ask and get some clarity before the process starts or money is spent.

Have the customer fill out a “Christmas List” for their project before moving forward.

To the point of having a list filled out…I need a list filled out to help determine the best direction for Solution Building going forward. I have a lot of ideas, but your input will help me know what would be the most beneficial to helping you build your dreams.

Please share your thoughts, questions, ideas or dreams in the comments below. This will help me know what gifts I can give you.

If you would prefer you can give me your list by taking this short 8 question survey.