Tag Archives: Hallway Design

Essential Interview Techniques for Selecting the Perfect General Contractor!


Hiring a construction company to implement the design of your project can be a daunting experience and a tremendous responsibility.

Though the contractors that have bid on your project come highly recommended by your design professional, co-worker or BFF, interviewing each candidate face to face so get that “gut feeling” is important in the decision-making process. Your ultimate goal is to come away with supreme confidence in one company to complete your project on time and within budget.


By setting aside one hour per interview and breaking it down to 45 minutes with each firm and a 15 minute break for a re-cap and comparing notes with your colleagues before the next group comes in is a good method.

Set ground rules. Each interviewee is to be advised that their total time will be 45 minutes. They are required to answer revealing key questions. A 5 minute warning will be given for their final remarks and “ wrap up”. If you don’t set this up initially, there is a greater chance of time overruns and endless contractor “monologues”.


The following are sample questions that I recently used in a contractor interview session with my clients. The answers proved to be very helpful to narrow the field from 3 to the 2 finalists:

  1. How long will the work take?
    •  What is the expected sequence of events?
    • Do you work in one area then move to the next or do you work everywhere all at the same time?
    • Will there be any times when there won’t be workers on my project? If so, why?
  2. Do you personally supervise the work? Will there be a full time  working foreman who will be at the project daily?
  3. How do you protect against dirt and dust during the course of this project?
  4. Is there anything we can do to avoid change orders?
  5. What are the key things that that will make for the smoothest running project possible?
  6. This is your opportunity to tell us why we should hire you rather than your competition?

At the conclusion of the interviews, set aside time to recap your feelings about what you learned. Does one firm shine above the others? I call this the “beauty contest” because if all else is equal, that is what it all boils down to. Do you have confidence that this GC firm will bring the project in on time, within budget, run a pristine job site and are the kind of people you want to have access to your property?


The next step would be to contact the references provided to get a solid take on the contractor’s work quality, organization, workers and the overall experience.

Now… do you feel more confident that you will select the right firm for your project? Need more advice – feel free to ask me!

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How My Dog Helped My Business

Pets have always been a big part of my life. My Mom was as crazy about animals (and bugs) as I was! When I was born we had Speckles, a large dog that was half Dalmatian and half…who knows what! He was fearless and his post was right beside my playpen. Yep, my fate as a dog-lover was sealed.

As an adult and parent myself, the legacy continued…so when my kids were little they begged me for a dog, and Hershey came into our lives. She was a wonderful rescued Chocolate Labrador Retriever who came to work with me daily, gracing my offices with her cheery presence. Hershey oversaw the business activities from her perch atop the conference table, where she also took her daily nap, greeted vendors, and welcomed clients. All this while doing her main job: alerting us to messengers and deliveries.

So how did my dog Hershey help my business?

Well, most clients who came to visit would pet and make a fuss over her. They were always so delighted to see a furry friend in a business environment. Sometimes I wondered who they actually came to see…me or my dog!

Hershey become the Sygrove Associates mascot and was featured in my monthly newsletter for years. She was always “dressed” to fit the season. For August she may be pictured preparing culinary delights at the grill, spatula in “paw.”


September features Hershey on her way “back to school” on the bus or busy teaching “biscuit math” in the classroom.


November always featured her presiding over a bountiful Thanksgiving table laden with turkey and the fixings. It has been such fun to come up with creative settings that punctuate the feeling for that month. My clients couldn’t wait to see what Hershey would be up to each month.


Then a wonderful thing happened. At the end of a presentation for a large 75-story cooperative building hallway project, I handed each board member a folder containing the requisite information they would need to make a decision. Inside each folder I had added a surprise: a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

“What’s this for?” they asked.

I went on to explain that Sygrove Associates has a very key staff member who is brown, furry and wags her tail. The treat was is my way of honoring Design Dog Hershey. At this, the entire board perked up and chimed in. One by one they told a story of a rescued Wheaton Terrier, Daschund, and even a Heinz 57. Dog lovers, all of them. Right then and there they told me that we got the job!

Never, in all of my years in business, would I have guessed that my dog would be the determining factor in winning a project!

Hey, You never know….

Sadly, after 15 years of service and loving companionship Hershey was laid to rest. We have photos and videos of her but we have an imprint of her paw for posterity. She is forever part of us. Will I ever replace her? That is unimagineable, but I do peek at dogs being walked near me and I size them up and think to myself “ could I adopt again”? I even check out dog rescue websites occasionally but I am not ready……yet.

16Hershey on Valentine’s Day

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