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!

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What you will learn in this episode: 

  • The relationship between you and your client

  • The relationship between your client and the contractor

  • The relationship between you and the contractor

A really critical component to managing your construction projects is 3 types of relationships.

Designers sometimes don’t pay enough attention to relationship importance until it’s too late. 

And I understand as designers, we are all trying to learn the basics of whatever project we are on, whether it’s a kitchen and we’re researching new appliances and the latest and greatest of this and that, looking at tiles, flooring, and stones, and balancing it all together. And if it’s a whole home renovation, we’re all over the place from electrical to elevations to built-ins, to you name it. 

But I worry we’re not focusing enough on the relationships that are the key to the success we are all striving for. 

As we all know, things can easily go wrong, and relationships are really tested when things go wrong. So if you don’t have that fundamental grounded relationship established, then even minor things that go wrong can become major issues. 

So by relationships, I’m talking about a blend between personal and professional with the key players of any construction project. 

I break this down into three categories.

Firstly it is you and your client.

You don’t really know a client at the beginning of a project unless you’ve worked with them before. But assuming you don’t know your client, you have to establish a relationship and rapport to understand each others’ language and try to elicit their hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, and worries. That is a secondary level all designs need to get in, and get in fast. 

Second is the client and the contractor.

Maybe your client has hired the contractor before bringing you onto the project. That may be a month before. It may be a couple of months before, depending on if they have an architect involved and they’ve been working on this project for 6 months. You quickly have to bring yourself up to speed as to where the client’s and contractor’s relationship has grown to. 

Oftentimes it’s not at a productive place. Sometimes there’s NO relationship. Sometimes it’s overbearing, and the client looks over the contractor’s shoulder and questions everything, so there’s that friction between the two. Sometimes if we’re all lucky, the contractor and client have a really solid footing. But those are the unicorn relationships adn not to be counted on. It’s usually a mix of little interaction to too much interaction. And that is where you come in and why it’s an important component to focus on where your client and contractor stand with each other. 

The sooner you understand the dynamic between your client and contractor, the easier it is to work through and ideally smooth out if possible. 

You have a little less control over this relationship because you aren’t a part of the client/contractor relationship. But you ARE playing a role that I discuss in this episode. 

And then, thirdly, you and the contractor.

And depending on the size of the project, that could be 5 contractors, that could be 20 contractors because I include all the trades as contractors. 

Also, please don’t date the contractors. It never turns out well (and I’m happy to share stories with you), but I AM talking about a professional friendship that will serve you well. 

This is NOT where you try to win everyone over and be a suck-up. That is not your role – you are an equal. I am talking about a professional relationship based on trust and experience. 

And don’t panic thinking you don’t have experience. That’s ok. The contractor didn’t have experience the day he decided to become a contractor either. This is why I’m always encouraging full transparency. If you don’t have experience – come forward with that and ask them if you can learn. 

If you have zero construction experience in any part of the construction, please work with someone who does, do a project of your own, and don’t guinea pig your client into learning on the job. It isn’t true for the industry, and it isn’t fair to the clients’ let alone the project. 

Another case for you may be where you have a relationship with the client, and a contractor is new to the party. You can help establish a positive and healthy relationship between the client and the contractor when this is the scenario. 

These three relationships are as important, if not slightly more important, than all of the construction information you need to research or lean on those skills you’ve already built.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at or DM me on Instagram @devignierdesign

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