By Renée Biery

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Add-on’s, renovations, and new construction homes can seem intimidating to take on. How do you even get started? How do you find and manage contractors? What surprises should you anticipate coming up? How long do these things take?

In this podcast, you will learn all that and so much more!

How to Build a Supportive Network in Construction Management





It is challenging being the only girl on the job site. Last week (in Ep. 157), I talked about designers supporting fellow designers in the world of construction management and how critical it is for designers to understand there is a support system out there rooting them on.  If you missed last week’s episode, I’d encourage you to go back and listen because it is challenging being the only girl on a job site, and there are days you feel like you’re on an island and nobody has your back. 

However, there are a lot of us out there who do have your back and feel the same way as you. We are seeking the same supportive community that we are building with this podcast.

Designers are not the only ones who are going to be supporting you and cheering you on while you’re working on these construction projects. So, building a supportive network of tradespeople and salespeople is a very important part of your success. 


I joke that it takes dozens of people to bring my work to life and make me look good. And that is a reality that we should all accept. While we create these beautiful designs, we don’t fabricate them and provide the materials. It takes a lot of people to pull it all off, and you want them to be a part of your supportive network. And that means putting effort into building those relationships. (Which, by the way, designers are really good at building relationships.)

In today’s episode, I share about a contractor with whom I established a relationship. 16 years later, we still are friends. He trusts me, and I have his back. I trust him, and he has my back. This kind of support is critical for our success. It is critical to feel like someone else is out there looking out for you and will catch you if needed. 

This is just one example of a tradesman that supports me along the way.

These relationships are what’s going to, firstly, cover your butt on a project if something goes south, and second, make you feel important. Make you feel seen and heard, and like you have value on a project. That is the kind of support I think any of us, and all of us, need when we are working. 

Community over Competition

I also share a story of how, again, community over competition. There is no competition. You, your personality, unique set of style, and experiences, sets you apart from anyone else in our field. 

I had someone ask me from last week’s episode why I was being so transparent, open, and giving. Well, because I had designers before me, being transparent and giving. So I am, yes, paying it forward. I was an employee of those women, but the world works differently now. So this is my way of paying it forward and sharing my knowledge even though I don’t have employees following me from job site to job site. But the support, the community, and the network that we are creating are still the same. Actually, I can reach so many more people now than if I did have 2 or 3 junior designers on my staff. 

Another group that I think gets overlooked often and really should become an important part of your network is the salespeople that you are interacting with day in and day out. 

Now, I am not talking about the big box stores where you go in and hope you find someone who knows anything about the item you want to purchase. I only go in those big box stores if I need something pretty generic, honestly. I would rather invest my time in a showroom that is dedicated to whatever it is I am investigating. Whether that’s plumbing or lighting, the reality is that the showrooms invest in their people and send them to training regularly. Those are your people.

They are the ones that will give you the knowledge that you need, not only to make the right selections but to sit in that role as an expert. 

They are the ones who are going to tell you about the new products so you don’t have to spend hours upon hours researching things. You can say, “Here are my parameters. This is the scope of work. What are your best options?”  

So, you can build a support network of experts in each of those fields to give you the information to make incredibly informed and valuable decisions on a job site. 

And so when you want to start building this network for yourself, the best way to do it is to start going to showrooms and industry events. If you are lucky enough to have a vibrant design center, sign up for their emails and start going to their events. But if you stay in your own office and only go onto job sites, you won’t be able to expand your network. And I am telling you, that is a mistake and definitely something that’s easy to work on. You just have to put the effort in. 

In listening to today’s episode, I hope you come to understand that support can be found in so many different places, and it needs to come from different places because it will satisfy your different needs. 

We all need support. We need each other’s support, and we need professional support. Your projects will be smoother if you have this rolodex of people you can lean on and count on to support you in your projects. 

And the icing on the cake – is that they also make you feel less alone. The tradespeople, they’re on the projects with you. The salespeople are not, but you can bend their ear about some of the issues, and since they’re in the business, they can also validate what you’re going through by hearing other designers tell their stories. There are just so many benefits in building this professional network that I want you to prioritize it for this coming year. 

As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

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