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!

What you will learn in this episode: 

  • How to establish your role in any size construction project

  • How to avoid overlapping roles

  • How being transparent and proactive makes for a smoother project

You will find yourself on various size projects, whether it is a custom new build, a new build with a community that offers design packages, a midsize project where the construction company has its own project manager, or it’s one you manage yourself and build the team. 

This array of project sizes can make it interesting and frustrating to understand how you define your role.

If you’re only used to building teams and managing projects on your own, and then you get the opportunity to join a larger project, you aren’t sure what your role includes because you don’t want to overlap your responsibilities. That doesn’t move the ball forward. So I want to break this down, so you know what to do and how best to handle it so that you have a clear path and your client clearly understands who is doing what. 

Firstly I discuss your role when you are working with a custom build, and the company has a “designer” ready to help the clients pick out their material. Typically they are not a trained designer, but the contractors can’t assume that their clients will have a designer hired to help them. If you are part of a project like this, there will be a supervisor on the project who will likely be managing the bigger picture of the project, scheduling, hiring, etc. so you can learn along the way. That is a great teachable moment that designers should take full advantage of! 

I let you know what you can do on a project like this and how you can position yourself as the client’s designer yet be able to work alongside the contractor’s “designer.”

Secondly, I want to talk about a large construction. Whether it is a builder’s pre-selected finishes or a custom build, a supervisor will be running the project. 

So what does that mean?

The good news is they will be building the team. They will be making the schedule. So that task comes right off your list, and frankly, that’s ok! If you aren’t as comfortable with this project size as with the previous type of project, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn from watching. 

In this episode, I share how I want you to have a detailed conversation with the supervisor when you’re on a project like this. This should be a phone call or in-person meeting that is set up to discuss your role. Also, more often than not, as you prove your value and stay on top of things, the contractor will start leaning on you. 

You’re also going to talk to the contractor about selections. So this comes into the budget. If it’s a new build, they will have a multi-page spreadsheet with the selections that need to be made for this scope of work and also have budget numbers. I want you to get a hold of the budget from the contractor or go directly to the client. Now they may hesitate to hand it to you right away. It’s understandable because people really don’t feel comfortable talking about money. But by having things like allowances cleared up instead of having a ballpark guess on numbers, you can put actual budget numbers in there, selections can be made, and everyone can move on. 

Another item I want you to talk to the contractor about is purchasing items. 

Depending on your location, contractors have different ways of structuring their fee structures. Some are a percentage of the construction total, some are square foot price, some are supervision price, and some are a combination. Since they all do it differently, you’ll need to strike through and ask how you and the contractor will handle the purchases. 

The last type of project is what I’d call a mid-size.

I was just recently on a project like this, and it was a construction company that had two or three teams and they had subcontractors. They also had a ‘project manager.’ This did not end up how I’d like it to, but as you will hear, the client ended up happy, which is the ultimate goal. 

In today’s episode, you will learn how to identify your role, no matter what size project you are on, how to show your expertise and professionalism, take the bull by the horns, and ensure that everybody on the project understands your role as well as their own. 

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