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!





Do you need to add construction management to your firm? 

I’ve heard this question from many designers who have reached out, as well as questions such as:

“Will this be something they regret not adding?” 

Will I not get the clients I want if I don’t offer this service to them?

The answer to this question of adding construction management to your firm isn’t always simple, but the reality is, no, you do not need to add construction management to your firm if you don’t think you’ll be successful.

How do I define someone as being successful?

You have to love what you do! So, if you are adding this service because ‘you think you need to,’ but you don’t really want to, you will likely not be as successful as you need to be or dread those projects. And nobody wins when you go into a project filled with dread or simply there because you feel you must be. 

A designer reached out to me and said, “I’ve done projects in my own house. I’m just not sure I really want to do it for other people.” 

This is a common occurrence! More often than not though, the designers say they fall in love with it when they do their own projects and then start offering that service to their clients. But this woman had a poor experience. So, I always circle back to the fact that you don’t have to have this service to be successful in our business.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t explain how I feel it is an important component for designers to at least sincerely consider adding this service.

This boils down to the economy. Homeowners view decorating as a luxury service. A luxury is something that can be put off for a future time. So if the economy dips or stagnates, or there’s a recession, or high-interest rates and people’s discretionary income is being diverted to things like groceries, and gas, then decorating projects have either slashed budgets, and they still move forward with it or they table the idea until a year or two from now when things stabilize. 

We’re sort of in that position right now. 

I’ve heard many designers get very nervous and anxious because their existing clients are pulling back on the scope or completely freezing the projects. And their new client calls have dwindled or entirely dried up. 

I haven’t heard that from every designer, but I know there are parts of this country and parts of the world where this is happening, and designers are getting anxious—and I don’t blame them! I have been in the business long enough to experience great highs and great lows. The good news is that I have been able to come through on the other side, in my opinion, because I offer both services. 

So, while decorating is seen as a luxury item that can be put off to some future date, homeowners view construction projects as an investment.  So, if any designer is thinking, wondering, and contemplating in a positive way if they should offer this service, I do believe it adds stability to a firm. It allows you to ramp up in one niche over another when the economy isn’t as robust as we’d like. Therefore, when the tides turn back, and you’d like more of a 50/50 balance of decorating/construction management, you’re able to do that as well. 

Construction management and construction selections

Another area I want to be clear on is the difference between construction management and construction selections. 

When I say construction management, I am talking about doing the design or a large portion of the design if it’s a new build and the architect is on the team. You may be doing more elevations and custom built-ins, but you’re also staying on the project as an active member and participant in site meetings, problem-solving, etc., all the way through to the end. 

There’s another common service that designers offer, and that’s doing the selections for an entire home or a large project.

This means they will meet all of the specifications for an entire home. They will be picking out the plumbing, the stone, the tile, sometimes even the flooring, and anything that goes into the home. They will write up a specification book and hand that off to a builder who will implement it. These designers are basically on call, but they are not an intricate part of a project’s day-to-day, week-to-week progress. 

While I think it is fantastic, and some designers really excel and love doing the specifications of a home without being involved in the management component, I always advocate being involved in the project’s management because that allows you to hold the vision from the very beginning of creating it through to the end.  

If you are looking for continuity in clients, a dual income stream within the same profession, stability, and, frankly, lucrative income, then I would tell you that construction management is something that you should consider.  

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

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