Rob Corbo

When I started my remodeling business, I found myself trying to sway clients toward my ideas rather than providing information to help them make their own decisions. I have since changed my ways. These days, I think of myself as more of an adviser than an advocate, and I believe this has helped limit my responsibility when things don't go as expected (always a good thing in this business). So, when a past client asked whether he should salvage an existing garage or tear it down and rebuild, I provided an estimate to do both, gave my opinion, and waited for him to get back to me.

Often, there's more to a decision than dollar amounts, and that was the case here. My estimate was around $20,000 to repair the existing structure and $30,000 to demo and rebuild new, but there were also appearance and zoning issues to consider. No doubt my client would have preferred to save money by rehabbing the existing structure, but the...

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