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Refusing to Do Projects

There’s a popular phrase that goes, “the customer is always right,” and many people in the service industry try to live by that idiom. But the fact is, the customer is not always right. Often, homeowners will get ideas about what they want on their homes that aren’t practical, or could even be downright dangerous. This is even worse when a poor design choice becomes a popular trend, whether it’s a particularly poor choice of roofing materials or a circulation system that doesn’t ventilate. It might get awkward with the customer, but there are some things a good professional will refuse to do–and we want to know what they are.

Why We’re Asking

Popular trends tend to reflect people’s taste rather than the practicalities of a design, which can sometimes lead to homeowners wanting projects done that simply aren’t a good idea. Our experts have a ton of experience, and they know what projects aren’t worth investing in, and which ones are downright dangerous. That’s why we want to know about the projects the professionals refuse to do, so that we can let homeowners know before they make the wrong choice when planning their home.

So tell us, experts:

What projects do you refuse to do?

Are there any popular trends that you think are a very bad idea when it comes to home improvement?

How do you handle the situation when what a customer wants is truly bad for them?

Have you ever walked away from a project because you thought it was an unsafe design?

Experts know best, but popular trends don’t always consult with the experts. We hope to help homeowners benefit from your expertise–and avoid those mistakes before they happen.

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!



  • TE Certified Electricians of TE Certified Electricians 11/30/13

    The old adage is “what you DON’T do is more important than what you DO.” Saying no is a skill and a regular occurrence for our company. As a professional it is our job to do good work, keep our customers safe, and of course keep everyone happy. Generally, we say no for safety reasons and most of the time homeowners appreciate it. Often customers know what they want but not exactly how to get it. So, their initial plans may need a bit of tweeking. We find that offering solutions, alternatives, and substitutes along with our advice goes a long way in easing anyone’s mind. Of course, a good explanation of why we can’t do a certain project also goes a long way. The most persistent trend we see in the electrical field is customers wanting to bypass safety devices in their home that inconvenience them. Typically, this is a GFCI outlet that shuts off when it gets wet or a breaker that turns off when overloaded. In the mist of their intense frustration over losing power suddenly, homeowners often forget the purpose of these devices. Often times the device is just doing its job but gets blamed for the problem. Generally, a thoroughly diagnosis of the situation will revel the true problem and we can correct it for the homeowner. Also, once a person really understands the safety system, they appreciate the protection much more. Despite our best efforts, sometimes, either to save money or to eliminate any inconvenience, customers will ask us to remove safety features. We never do this. Our position can lead to some awkward conversations but we never compromise on safety. Sometimes, we miss out on work because we won’t bend the rules and that is OK by us. Recently, we turned away work for a outdoor concert venue because they wanted to remove safety features in the facility to avoid upgrading their building. We regret missing out on the opportunity but we sleep a whole lot better knowing our installations our safe.

  • Nancy Dalton of Baywolf Dalton 12/02/13

    We do “gently” bow out of projects that are not going to be beneficial for ourselves and our potential client. We just can’t do work that doesn’t meet codes or best practices in our industry; our warranty and reputation is on the line every time we work on a project. Sometimes the best service we can provide a client with is to decline to do the project. It wouldn’t be fair to either party.

    This last summer I met with a very nice couple that had purchased one the worst homes I have ever seen from an infrastructure standpoint. It also seemed they had been misled by who ever had done the home inspection and probably a real estate agent about what would be possible and what it would cost. I felt sorry for their situation, some of what they thought they could do was actually impossible and the other half would cost a great deal to correct. All of the prior work on this home was without permits, very sub-standard and potentially dangerous. We didn’t work for this couple and I’m not sure they will stay in the home.

    Unusual and unsound ideas stem from “Cost savings” and in the end, they won’t be. The other end of the spectrum is a client that wants to obfuscate local codes to add something more to their home they shouldn’t otherwise be able to do. This will backfire when you sell the home and the inspection goes very poorly.

  • Mark Puglisi of Greenleaf Organic Pest Management 12/02/13

    As a service provider, sometimes we are faced with issues that go beyond the scope of service or aren’t related to pest at all. Our industry is highly regulated by local and state requirements. Many of these regulations are not always followed by other pest control companies. One of the things we will not do is treating for a problem that doesn’t exist, which we call No-See-Ems, or Mystery Pest. Potential clients call for what they believe to be “bites” and wanted treatment. Unfortunately there are companies that are happy to take your money without inspecting or confirming a target pest. This is a requirement before any application of pesticide can be made. Many issues that get blamed on pest are actually not pest at all. Some can even be psychological such as Mass Psychogenic Illness. I have seen my share of this over the past 35 years and always struggle with it, because the individual actually believes that “bugs” are responsible for their skin lesions. Our goal is always to resolve our client’s issues when related to pest control, but sometime that just isn’t possible.
    I’m always saying “How do it know”…Just this moment I received a call from one of my senior techs sharing his second inspection of the day. He responded to a general pest call for roaches on the inside of a home with 4 children. Sounds pretty routine, until he started to tell me how badly the sanitation was and the living conditions of this individual. Hording is another serious mental issue we come across that will keep us from gaining any kind of control in a home. Controlling nesting sites, sanitation and availability of food are essential to controlling just about every pest issue that we as an industry run across. We can easily explain this to someone, but not everyone can take the action needed to improve their situation regardless of their understanding because of this illness. Our technician wanted to help, but knew that he doesn’t have those tools on his truck. Honesty isn’t always about business ethics, it’s also about humanity issues, and not always easy to communicate.

  • Grand View Builders 12/06/13

    The main goal at Grand View Builders is to help our clients achieve the home of their dreams. We love working with our clients to make the vision of their dream home become a reality, but as experts in home building and design, it is also our job to advise our clients and help them make the best long-term decisions for their homes. Many of our clients like to incorporate trends into the design of their homes, especially the interior. Designers at the Grand View Builders Custom Home Design Center often encourage clients to opt for long-lasting design choices when it comes to choosing major home selections, such as cabinets, flooring and back-splashes. While some trends tend to become more permanent, we believe it’s always best to avoid really trendy selections in favor of choices that the client will love to live with for years to come. It is much easier to accessorize with news trends, such as paint, fixtures and furniture, than to rebuild or remodel a whole room or home because the trend has come and gone.

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