The most common complaint I hear from my fellow remodeling contractors and custom home builders has to do with getting that last payment. Many who have come up on the short end chalk it up to the cost of doing business, relying on luck and their ability to judge character to see them through. But I think there's already too much uncertainty in the construction process, so I have developed procedures that increase the odds that I'll get paid everything I'm owed without a hassle.

How your relationship with the client starts determines how it ends. It's essential to maintain a professional attitude toward both the clients and the work. Many hands-on contractors like to take a personal approach with clients, but there's a difference between being friendly and treating clients like friends. Professionals aren't asked to do...

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