Confessions of a Remodeler


My Clients have buttons!

Somewhere along the line I realized that most of my clients have their own individual buttons, specific to them, that if pushed do not serve me well. Clearly, I came to this realization because I had inadvertently pushed one or two of them. To the population at large, the buttons may or may not concern things of significance. It is crucial to understand though, that the client would not have a particular button if it were not extremely significant to them. That is the crux of the importance of the buttons.

I don’t mean to imply in any way that buttons are to be ridiculed. I certainly have quite a few buttons of my own. (Just ask my kids about my buttons.) In fact I would say that we are all created as unique, individual beings with unique, individual buttons. What a boring place the world would be if we weren’t.

I believe, that as a custom Orange County home remodeling contractor, I am primarily in a service business. That is to say, I am in the business of providing realized dreams to my clients, at least as far as their dreams concerning their homes.  So the service is all about dream fulfillment. That is why the buttons are so critical.

I had a client a few years ago who had a dream of doing an addition on the front of his home without tearing up his beautiful front lawn. His button was his lawn; he took a great deal of pride in it. By recognizing the button, we were able to fulfill the dream. We took extra care when we dug the footings to handle the dirt well. We pumped concrete into the footings instead of driving a concrete truck across the yard. The trades people knew where they could and could not park. Material was staged in smaller than normal quantities.  At the end of the job, he told me he couldn’t believe we did all we did, without tearing up his lawn.

A different client was very concerned about the amount of waste a construction project can generate. They badly desired a whole house remodel, but did not want to put anything unnecessarily in the landfills. This ultimately led to new policies on recycling policies here, at Harkness Builders. We were able to use much of the brick we pulled off of the house, as fill under a raised slab. Recycled and crushed concrete was also used as a gravel bed under the same slab. These practices are not terribly unique, but it was a client’s button that got us thinking this way several years ago.

Another client was very concerned that she did not understand the construction process well enough to know when she would have to make certain decisions on finish materials etc. She was afraid that she might be holding us up and be pressured into making a selection without adequate time. Her button was about wanting to stay informed concerning scheduling and sequencing. At the end of the six month project, she baked us a cake and said we earned it, because we had kept her sane.

You might be curious about my buttons. At least one button is managing my clients’ expectations. Whether they are living on site or inspecting progress weekly, I always want the clients to know exactly what to expect when they stop by.

What are your buttons? I’d love the opportunity to hear about them and let you know what we can do to remodel your home without pushing a single one of them.


  • About the Author

    I’m Larry Harkness and I think it is an absolute blast to be a remodeling contractor in the Lake Norman area. There are few things more satisfying than helping homeowners make the changes to their homes...

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