Katie Hodges: The Logistics of Construction Oversight

Episode 9 October 20, 2023 00:47:37
Katie Hodges: The Logistics of Construction Oversight
The Interior Collective
Katie Hodges: The Logistics of Construction Oversight

Oct 20 2023 | 00:47:37

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Show Notes

When the design phase is completed, an interior designer’s job is just beginning. As you head into the construction phase of a project - whether new construction or renovation, the logistics can get tricky. Most states won’t let you “Project Manage” your contractors, so “Construction Oversight” is the new industry standard. Today, Los Angeles based interior designer Katie Hodges walks us through the logistics of bringing your designs to life through overseeing construction.

 

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00;00;00;00 - 00;00;38;18 Anastasia Casey When the design phase is complete an interior designer’s job is just getting started. As you head into the construction phase of a project, whether new construction or renovation, the logistics can get tricky. Most states won't let you technically project manage contractors, so construction oversight is the new industry standard. Today, Los Angeles based interior designer Katie Hodges walks us through the logistics of bringing your designs to life through overseeing construction. 00;00;38;20 - 00;01;12;12 AC Hello, Katie. Welcome to the show. This is a big moment for me because we've never actually gotten to connect before. I'm so excited. It's so nice to meet you. It's just super exciting. I really dug into your questions beforehand and did a lot of homework based off of questions our listeners have sent in. And so we have a little bit of background and then we're really going to get into overseeing construction and the construction management phase of the process that I feel can be really overwhelming and scary to people. And so we're really grateful for your expertise here. 00;01;12;12 - 00;01;35;29 Katie Hodges I'm so happy to talk about this is part of my day to day. Let's do it. AC Well, first of all, we want to congratulate you on your new baby. This is a huge time of transition for you to find your new normal as principal designer and business owner. What did maternity leave look like for you? 00;01;36;01 - 00;01;57;27 KH I didn't. I did not have one. Unfortunately, it was not in the cards for me, just with the way that projects were timed and like needing to make money, like feed this child and myself, I couldn't. It just was not at the point in time when you got pregnant, really. So I, of course, managed everybody's expectations on how quickly I'll reply. 00;01;57;28 - 00;02;19;19 KH But we were hot on two construction projects and I had to be available pretty much like two days postpartum. Wow, that's amazing. And also, I'm sorry that you didn't get time, but it's also really refreshing to hear someone say that, like, I didn't get to do that as a business owner. You know, it doesn't look like six months paid time off. 00;02;19;22 - 00;02;42;06 AC So talk us through what your team, if there was any, were there pre-baby during your non-existent leave and where you're at now? Like, who's on your team? How many people are there? Are they full time as a contract? KH Yeah, of course. I have one full time in-house senior designer project manager right now. Definitely like downsized a little bit knowing baby was coming. 00;02;42;09 - 00;03;07;27 KH We have pretty much a full time bookkeeper and then we have freelance people doing some drafting and drawings as needed. But pretty much on the ground it's myself and my right hand at the moment, but it fluctuates just depending on our project load. AC Yeah, definitely. Super interesting that you say you have an almost full time bookkeeper. Is that person managing like your, for instance, studio designer software, your software like that? So they're doing all of the accounting for your projects as well? 00;03;07;27 - 00;03;32;18 KH Yes, exactly. So they not only update studio, but are constantly reconciling. They're sending invoices to clients as well and getting those prepared, making sure that language is correct and putting all our time billing, just ensuring that everything is right, applying retainers that is in and of itself is a full time job. 00;03;32;19 - 00;03;54;16 KH There's always also questions about did you mean to overpay this vendor or underpay? You know, there's a conflict here, a conflict there. They're constantly managing the bucks because, you know, as we all know, a lot of money runs through interior design firms and we take that very seriously. AC Yeah, huge amounts and huge liabilities for you as a small business, too. 00;03;54;18 - 00;04;21;15 AC One thing that I think is so unique about you and your journey to where you are now is that you spent time at other design studios before opening your own firm. How important do you feel that step really was? KH That's a great question. I mean, I only had like three or four years experience at other studios. And then I say only just I know some people had spent ten plus years. 00;04;21;21 - 00;04;47;03 KH Then I worked in home staging for about two years. But do I think it's important in my journey? I think it was not as important as the experience I had on the ground on my own, but I had enough of a foundation to know what I'm talking about, too. So I don't personally think that you can't do it without some experience. 00;04;47;03 - 00;05;11;29 KH But I felt so confident in how to structure a foundation or if I knew, you know, this is what I'm billing or this is how I'm billing it, because I had that example from others that there was not even a morsel of doubt in my voice or in my mind that this is how it's done. Whereas I think if I didn't have that, maybe clients could have driven me in a direction that would have steered the project in the wrong way. 00;05;12;01 - 00;05;43;18 KH So for what experience is always great. Like, let's just put it this way, 100% isn't necessary. No. Very beneficial, though. AC So in addition to your four ish years experience at another studio, did you have like technical education in design or were you hired there and really learned design concepts at that phase? It's just such an interesting story to discover how people got to where they are and people are always weighing, especially if it's a second career, like, do I need to go back and get a degree? 00;05;43;19 - 00;06;10;17 AC Obviously very state, but just kind of like what that technical background look like for you. KH Well, I did not go to school for it. I was pursuing a medical degree in college when I realized that this is what I wanted to be doing. And it was definitely not conventional. I was pretty young because I was just out of college like 23 when I realized that starting my master's degree in speech language pathology, like totally random. 00;06;10;20 - 00;06;31;07 KH But like side note, my parents made me do it. Like, I come from an immigrant family and it was like security, security, security, you know, get a degree, clock in, clock out, get a paycheck. Anyway, I got a job as a personal assistant, and this exposed me to a world I never knew before of, like, luxury services. She had a stylist. 00;06;31;07 - 00;06;53;27 KH She had me as her assistant, and then they were also building their home. So I, for the first time, saw what that even looked like. I never even knew people got paid money to do fun things like styling or picking up samples. Like at the time it looked like fun. So it pretty much rocked my world. And I just decided that it was something that I wanted to pursue. 00;06;53;27 - 00;07;18;19 KH I didn't know it was 100% interior design at the time. I did like personal styling. I took internships in PR and ad agency, like working on Saturn cars at the time, you know, all these random things. But when I got my interior design internship because I was very interested in her home building process, like when I was picking up samples and then hustling contractors, you know, on her timeline or making sure this was up for the owners to review. 00;07;18;21 - 00;07;39;17 KH I knew that was something that I really gravitated towards, but it was when I got the internship that I really feel like I like landed at home. This is 100% I need to do. But at my internship, there were girls that went to school that were doing AutoCAD, and they always had an edge over me or like, you know, say things like, I'll quickly whip up that elevation. 00;07;39;17 - 00;08;04;04 KH And I'm like, What the hell's an elevation? Like, what is going on? So I've always been very resourceful and you know can kind of see what I'm missing. And this was clearly one I got a tutor from the UCLA Extension program that came over three times a week in the evening and taught me AutoCAD until I felt comfortable enough to show my boss that I could do like a floor plan. 00;08;04;06 - 00;08;22;02 KH And then it's just once you sort of start doing it, you just keep practicing, practicing. So on the technical things, completely self-taught, which is really obvious to those when they see my with my files, because there are things that I'm missing, like I still don't know how to set up an AutoCAD file, but boy, do I draw. 00;08;22;02 - 00;08;46;17 KH a mean kitchen. You know, there are definitely gaps in my skill set, but I've always just kind of been scrappy and get it done and resourcefulness is the most important thing here. AC So you have a full time designer, project manager, Does your designer do your CAD files now? Do you outsource that or are you doing it? KH Girl It is all of the above. 00;08;46;17 - 00;09;19;25 KH It depends on how fussy I'm feeling over something like I'm so tactile in my drawings that sometimes it's just easier for me to go in and like, play around with the offsets or play around with a certain dimension rather than like ten emails back and forth on like sink size or, you know, leg width or something. So I think I'm really involved and it's not uncommon for me to take a file over, mess it all up and then be like, okay, I got it to where I want now, you know, do all the annotations and publish. 00;09;19;27 - 00;09;42;20 AC Yeah, you make it work. When you were first starting your own studio, were you doing your own CAD at that point or did you hire that out right away? I was doing pretty much all my own CAD, but I did. My first project was like a little bit too big for me to handle solo. So I did actually, I was outsourcing a little bit more because I was just doing everything. 00;09;42;20 - 00;10;03;09 KH I didn't have a bookkeeper, I didn't have an assistant. So that that I did at the time it outsource and I still do it whenever I need to. It's just always there for me. AC That's amazing. And do you have someone that like you always go to, or is there a resource that you recommend people go to find this person who can just come on for like a single project type of situation? 00;10;03;11 - 00;10;21;09 KH I have two people that I reach out to to ask, you know, Are you available to do this for me? That's this too. Or my go to’s then for furniture, when I've had really this for a little bit for construction as well as I've gone on Upwork. Actually, I have upwork.com have you ever heard of it? 00;10;21;11 - 00;10;40;29 KH But we have somebody on call constantly that just like whips up a quick thing for me and that's just been so such a wonderful resource. I get resources and it's not as important thing, but I do love doing my own elevations. I'm not going to lie. Well, that is super helpful, Katie, Thank you for sharing that Upwork. We will put that in the show notes. 00;10;40;29 - 00;10;56;23 AC But we I mean, we use Upwork at our own studio for graphic design stuff or actually podcast editing. To be honest, when we're in a bind. And so it's really nice to be able to just get someone who can pick up a project and you don't have to take on even a part time person and really have that responsibility. 00;10;56;27 - 00;11;20;11 AC So let's talk construction, because this is where you really, really shine. And it's so obvious when we look at your beautiful portfolio. One of your most notable differentiators is your commitment to extraordinary construction oversight and depth of experience working with architects and contractors. I imagine so much of your expertise is simply earned by years of onsite experience, as you mentioned. 00;11;20;13 - 00;11;44;08 AC But what key steps do you take to maximize the chances of an extraordinary level of construction execution? Like, what are the things that you're like? We are always watching this throughout the entire project to make sure it's done right. KH That's such a great question. And I think the first thing that comes to mind is just this little thing that I constantly repeat, clarify, verify. 00;11;44;10 - 00;12;11;16 KH We're constantly clarifying, verifying. I request, of course, shop drawings for every everything I request samples, tile layouts, anything and everything that can be clarified and verified. But the first thing that came to mind was shop drawings. And people are so hesitant to give these to us and we will fight tooth and nail to get them AC What is a shOp drawing? 00;12;11;17 - 00;12;36;25 AC Let's strip it back. So we provided what our design is to this contractor. What is it that we're asking for when he asks for a shop drawing? When we're asking for a shop drawing? KH What I'm asking for is that, let's say, cabinetry person's interpretation of my drawing, knowing their skill set, their tools, their drills. Sometimes we ask for profiles and they're like, especially on custom crowns. 00;12;36;28 - 00;13;06;09 KH Like we don't have a drill bit for that or I don't even know how to execute that. So it's really just our design intent and then their execution they need to meet and sometimes we need to negotiate in the middle where something isn't clear or they're not capable of doing it. Or if they flag that an appliance is bigger, then what we have drawn, for example, like if they need to wear clearance like on a coffee maker recently, it needed a bit more depth and we're like, okay, great, you're doing your job, we're doing ours. 00;13;06;09 - 00;13;31;19 KH And together we're going to nail this. So there's no issue upon install. AC Amazing do with your level of projects in the scope of work you're providing. Do you have specific contractors and architects that you recommend to your clients? Have you built up that black book or are your clients coming to you and say, I already have an architect, I already have a contractor? 00;13;31;26 - 00;14;02;23 AC And if that's the case, how do you control that to ensure that those trades that you did not particularly set up can execute the project to what you're expecting? KH The honest answer is, is I cannot 100% make sure that somebody is doing their job well. And I think that has taken me years to just even be able to say that out loud and just thinking of a couple examples or I'm like, Look, I cannot physically build it for this person that has been hired to do it. 00;14;02;26 - 00;14;24;05 KH So they need to get fired and that needs to get rebuilt. Bottom line, like I cannot I'm not there to do it. So of course we don't want it to get to that point. But it's just very clear to me when I meet a contractor, usually it's very clear to me when somebody, you know, can walk the walk, not just talk the talk. 00;14;24;08 - 00;14;46;28 AC For the caliber of clients that you work with, do you typically have specific contractors and or architects that you're recommending for the project, or are they coming to you and already have a team in place and you're this like third party they're bringing in? If that is the instance, how do you help guarantee that your designs are executed, the caliber that you would expect? 00;14;47;00 - 00;15;13;26 KH Usually our clients bring in their own contractor. I have brought my own people and before that I've worked with in the past. But it does become a little bit of like not a liability, but, you know, you never you never know how that relationship is going to go. So I've sort of learned like you can recommend people, but ultimately I think the client needs to choose their contractor and interview, even if I recommend somebody interview other people, just that decision comes from them. 00;15;13;29 - 00;15;40;16 KH I don't want to be in the position anymore because I have been this comes from, you know, very painful experiences where now you're responsible for the contractor. So having said that, we absolutely work with contractors we never worked with before, always just telling the client, just keeping it real. Like, you know, I'm sure you've hired somebody. Amazing. We're going to work with them and deliver what's needed. 00;15;40;18 - 00;16;00;12 KH Let's have a check in. If something isn't going right, we're going to be honest with you. If we're having issues with collaborating with contractors, not everybody likes working with designers either. And we do ask our clients to, you know, quiz the contractor about how are they on email, Do they like Dropbox? Do they have a printer? Just things like that. 00;16;00;12 - 00;16;29;09 KH Because you can't expect to stick to random people in a room and just expect them to work really well together. 99 and almost 100% of time we do, but it just doesn't come super easy when it's a stranger. And of course I tell clients that their contractor is accountable for execution and we will do everything in our power to make sure that the design intent is very clear and that there is an open channel of communication. 00;16;29;12 - 00;17;06;14 AC That is such a good point, Katie. I've never considered the potential not legal, but like social liability of you recommending a contractor and then suddenly you are stepping more into this project management role, which I know in California is not something that you can even do legally to project manage your contractor. But the concept of having them source pick out, interview and hire their own contractor, it's very clear that liabilities that come up with the contractor are not your liability. 00;17;06;15 - 00;17;45;05 AC So I really appreciate you really outlining that for people. How does your construction oversight differ from contractors you've worked with before, the contractors that you've never worked with before? Like what is that initial conversation that you have with them? What are you handing a new contractor that looks different than maybe someone you've been through this before? KH Well, I think that people I've worked with before and this is for contractors and subs as well, sometimes we don't have a general contractor and client hires subs directly that we usually actually refer. 00;17;45;08 - 00;18;04;03 KH I do have more subcontractors like cabinetry people that I put clients in touch with versus contractors. Anyway, I, of course, anybody I've worked with in the past, we have a shorthand. I say things like, Remember last time I didn't like that that woodgrain on that plane slice like that was too busy and like, yeah, we won't use that next time. 00;18;04;05 - 00;18;32;18 KH There's just little cute things like that, just from knowing people. But for the most part it all stays the same. It's elevations, floorplans, material schedules, it's site visits, clarifying any questions. Samples. Does not change across the board. AC Fantastic. So your clients getting the same level of execution and service and documentation no matter if they're bringing their contractor to the table or it's someone you've worked with in the past. 00;18;32;20 - 00;19;05;27 Unknown This October, we are headed back to the Santa Monica Proper Hotel for Design Camp 2023. Join designers from around the world as we go in-depth in small group breakout sessions and large keynotes covering topics like systems and processes, design presentations, maximizing profitability, marketing that converts updated software solutions, and so much more. Meet celebrity designers Bria Hammel, Tangle and Co and Caitlin Fleming while we dine al fresco under the Stars Design Camp is loaded with surprises and a lifetime of friendships. 00;19;05;29 - 00;19;28;17 AC Don't miss our final event of the year. Visit www.design-camp.co to secure your spot. Where in this process are you fitting your design discovery meeting where you get measurements and floor plans? Do you use a local dress person, the contractor on the project, or your own team to get those initial as built initially? 00;19;28;17 - 00;19;51;04 AC Will it request the from the client if the house came with plans and we use that at least as dress like for formatting to have the layout and give us a cheat sheet of what's what. But we pretty much always do our own measurements. Unless it's a full house measure, then we'll have somebody come in and do actual like as a belt, and it's just a cut and dry service. 00;19;51;06 - 00;20;09;16 AC Perfect. And you just hire them for the day and they just knock it out. KH Exactly. But nine times out of ten, I'd say that we just kind of room by room measure because there's things I want to get to know in a room as well, or within your designer that are like little intimate details, like how far the firebox is off the ground, things like that. 00;20;09;16 - 00;20;29;06 KH So you sometimes just want to be in the space with your tape measure to figure it out. AC When you're working with tradespeople, like you're a cabinet builder, does your cabinet builder also come in and do their measurements, or are you at that point providing the measurements that your team took? And those are final and that's what it's built off of? 00;20;29;19 - 00;21;00;22 KH No, no, no, no, no, no. All of our drawings are like contractor verified measurements are not responsible for measurement. Absolutely. Do not rely on us for measurements. And I will tell them straight up. There are measurement. Measurements are probably wrong, so they need to go onsite and verify. Even if we did measure perfectly things like drywall thickness and stuff that ends up happening down the line, they need to double check for their own work. 00;21;00;24 - 00;21;20;29 KH So we do not our drawings are not to build, they're just for design. AC That is a huge relief to, I'm sure, everybody listening. So it's amazing that you have that in your contract and you have that in everything that you deliver to your contractors. So let's talk about documentation. Talk us through your construction documentation. What does it look like? 00;21;20;29 - 00;21;45;20 AC As in are they Excel spreadsheets? Are they PDFs? Are they working? Are they Dropbox and saved all final and then you update them as they go. How is it delivered to your client, your team? And then also how is it handed over to either your trades or your general contractor? KH There is no one way that we do it depending on the client and the contractor and the subs. 00;21;45;23 - 00;22;22;18 KH We know some subs will not go into a Dropbox like no matter what, or don't even check their email or they don't even have an email. So we do print a lot of things and hand it over to contractors and subs. We do have a dropbox for those contractors that love email, which is always great, but we still just end up printing things as well because you know, there are so many revisions and sometimes you mark it up like old school pen and paper, you know, to clients we present in print usually print out form the initial concept and we walk through the space and kind of look at the elevation and have it right 00;22;22;18 - 00;22;43;27 KH in front of us so they can start visualizing it. And then when we have revisions, we usually just end up emailing them, especially some clients don't live in the city that we're working in. It could be their vacation home when we're working on right now. So then we just send emails individually like approval request, kitchen, you know, island cabinetry. 00;22;43;27 - 00;23;07;08 KH Edit send that PDF. AC Perfect. So when you're sending that PDF over and you're getting a revision approval request for your process is just an email response saying approved. Is that enough documentation for you? Are you sending it through any sort of like client management software to get like a signature on it, or is it just an email back and forth? 00;23;07;10 - 00;23;29;18 KH It's for the most part an email back and forth. I think there is value to having those like very cut and dry, you know, approvals. But we have really intimate relationships with clients and after a while you just sort of have a shorthand and we also don’t send every little change that happens for client approval. 00;23;29;18 - 00;23;47;23 KH You know, we like change a cabinet from 20 to 24 that doesn't warrant an approval. So we sort of gauge it on the client. And if you feel like a client is particularly anxious or something like that or maybe really wishy washy or forgetful, then I think we will request a signature every once in a while, be like, okay. 00;23;47;25 - 00;24;07;28 KH Or if they suggest something that I really disagree with, that it's one of those things where I don't think it's going to be bad, but I advise against it. Are you sure? Can you please sign off on this? Like send back a signed, you know, and usually they'll change their mind if I ask that at that point. AC Yes, that's a strong message. 00;24;07;28 - 00;24;30;04 AC While being very serving to your client. But you're like, I really like this suggestion. Thank you. KH In my crystal ball, I see this not working out. But hey, let's try it. AC It's your house and we'll deliver what you're asking for. We just need a signature. How often are you typically updating those construction docs after designs have been approved? 00;24;30;04 - 00;24;48;23 AC So your design basis over your on site and you know, profiles are changing or there was an extra four inches on average. Do you do it every single time a change has happened, or is it like once a week we'll go through update the master files with everything that happened that week and maybe that was six little revisions. 00;24;48;26 - 00;25;07;05 KH We do it pretty much as we go and as needed. I think it would be a lot harder to keep track of a lot of the little changes and do it all at once. So if we get a clarification from somebody that a change is to be made, we make it pretty much right away and then date stamp the change in our dock and our AutoCAD file. 00;25;07;05 - 00;25;27;28 KH Maybe not export or publish, but just keeping it save as new version. So according to our Dropbox, I think we make changes every day one way or another, you know it, or updating a knob. I mean, just a hinge. We just keep everything in there and an update on the go. AC How often is your team doing site visits? 00;25;27;28 - 00;25;52;03 AC I know you gave an example of it's not always like in the city that you are living in. What cadence are you visiting? A project throughout the construction process is it like, you know, when concrete's poured and framing goes up and then it becomes a lot more frequent or are you like there every week no matter what KH in the beginning when it's especially pre framing, I don't even think we're there much at all really. 00;25;52;04 - 00;26;11;22 KH No need when the framing is up. That's kind of the exciting part where we definitely come by and we will also verify our measurements from the plan. There's always something that changes or the architect's plans have changed and we don't know about it. So that's a really important walk through. I just feel the space and go, You know what, never mind. 00;26;11;22 - 00;26;40;14 KH A built in should not go there. Just different things like that. And I know it'll ebb and flow. I think after that framing walkthrough they'll be another pause for a while and we come back when plumbing reps go in, probably when electrical reps go in, do an electrical walkthrough. So then again, nothing for a while. And then of course towards the end of the project when the tiles start going in and the cabinetry goes in every week, twice a week, just depends. 00;26;40;20 - 00;26;57;25 AC Here is like the big ticket question How do you bill for construction oversight? Are you billing this at hourly? If you charge hourly for design, is this flat rate, is it included in your design fees? This is the part that everybody's like, there's so many different ways to do it. What have you found to be best for you? 00;26;57;28 - 00;27;22;15 KH Hourly. Hourly, 1,000%. Hourly there is. There's not a chance on earth I would ever do it, not hourly, because there are so many variables that could change that could totally screw me. I mean, there's no way that you can put a flat fee, especially if you're working with contractors and subs. You don't know how am I to know that they don't need hand holding through everything? 00;27;22;15 - 00;27;44;07 KH I mean, we end up doing a lot of work for our contractors as they're almost like assistants sometimes. And the clients like, yes, please get it done, do what's needed and how can I know that kick off? AC Can I backtrack a little bit, are you hourly for your design phase as well? KH Depends on the project for construction. 00;27;44;10 - 00;28;25;28 KH We've done it many different ways. If it's a large scale construction project, it'll be a flat design fee for the conceptual design. That's us. That's not even that's not AutoCAD or elevations, anything like that. It's just like coming up with the vibe that the general style of cabinetry, the tiles, you know, those things, and then that'll be a flat design fee and then it'll be hourly what I call the uncontrollables, which is AutoCAD, because you don't know how many revisions you're going to need based on client pickiness or, you know, adage, you know, a client can never also tell you that they're going to be requiring a ton of credit. 00;28;25;28 - 00;28;50;16 AC So you can add in your questionnaire like, are you pretty decisive or do you require a lot of you know, hand-holding or whatnot? And everybody's like, my God, I'm so easy going. But then they're or, you know, something else, something else completely comes out, you know, with the red lines and marking up your drawings, you're like, Okay, I'm so happy we didn't do a flat fee because at the end of the day, everybody needs to be accountable for their own actions. 00;28;50;19 - 00;29;08;18 KH And that's something I talk about with clients a lot when I sell, you know, the way that we build, which is flat fee for the things I can control, which is my design work. So if it takes me, you know, if I'm in a design block and I'm on Pinterest for 20 hours, that's my that's on me, not on you really. 00;29;08;20 - 00;29;28;15 KH But now if you're getting, you know, trigger happy with the red Sharpie redlining or your contract isn't contractor doesn't check emails and actually doesn't even check anything, just wants to get in, get out and doesn't do a great job to put it, frankly. And we need to be on site twice a week. They need to be accountable, held accountable. 00;29;28;15 - 00;29;50;22 KH We cannot pay for their incompetence that very cut and dry on it. No, no way am I going to go negative on a job. AC Yeah, 100%. And it doesn't matter how many projects you have in the books, like try to guess what that flat rate is like. There's too many variables. Since you've been so generous with your pricing model, how do you do install? 00;29;50;23 - 00;30;16;10 AC Is that flat rate hourly still KH For installs We've done it two ways is we have especially for really juicy projects, done it the install days is inclusive of the whole package and I sort of factor in that that's in my best interest because I want the project and it's it is also outlined in my contract like how many days it will be kind of included, like three day install included. 00;30;16;10 - 00;30;40;26 KH Anything beyond that, you know, is hourly. And I do that because sometimes clients will request your partial installs and not all the furniture will be delivered. So then you end up having like multiple rounds of install or an accessories phase after the initial install. So I always think I do usually include especially for in-town projects that are due, see certain amount of days on the install. 00;30;40;29 - 00;31;06;25 AC And so when you say you're including it, that's in that initial flat design fee number. KH Yeah, you got it. Yeah I'll say this number includes three days for install. AC Perfect. That's amazing. Okay, so every contractor is super different and some contractors like to order hard surface materials and some don't. What is your policy? Are you flexible on it? 00;31;07;00 - 00;31;32;08 AC And when it comes to ordering, how do you ensure again, that that is effectively executed if you aren't the one doing the ordering? KH I would say eight times out of ten we order everything. And I have had contractors or things before too, but ultimately the client will choose and this is how I sell it is if we are doing the ordering. 00;31;32;15 - 00;32;05;03 KH You do not pay hourly for the logistics or anything around that order quoting, getting samples, etc. because our procurement fee covers that. And then if the contractor is ordering, we will need to charge hourly for providing schedules. And so, you know, so and we do still need to get the quotes for them for the most part because especially with specialty finishes, like how will they know that I want the lever on the toilet to match the rest of the finishes, you know, on the plumbing like they don't take it to that level. 00;32;05;06 - 00;32;28;01 KH But I tell the client that contractors also have a markup. So I think that your money is better spent with like my OCD team, you know, that is always on their computer, has a shorthand with the subs than the contractor. And of course I don't do that to make the contractor lose out on money because I imagine that that would probably trigger somebody. 00;32;28;03 - 00;32;54;12 KH They're usually pretty happy to not be doing that anyway. However, AC No, please go ahead. However, what's the however, tell me everything. KH That's what I'm saying. Everything. I mean, that stuff I care about the tiles, the lighting, the slabs, the hardware, including like door hardware, not just cabinetry hardware. Those are the things I care about. 00;32;54;15 - 00;33;13;12 KH And they are big ticket items that are very specialty at times. The contractor does not want to deal with that, especially approving like handmade tile, you know, strike offs, like they have no business in that. But however, the contractor is very happy to hear that I don't want to order canned lighting, I don't want to order hardwood flooring. 00;33;13;15 - 00;33;33;18 KH, I don't care. I don't want to order doors or windows, although I have. But I when I really had to so I think that once they kind of realize, okay, I'm going to be making a little bit less money, but the big stuff is still profitable for me, then they kind of ease up AC Silly question, but paint, you usually have the contractor placing that order and picking that up. 00;33;33;21 - 00;33;57;10 KH Yeah, yeah. Paint like don't care, paint, whatever. You know, it's I can't nickel and dime my profits. It's not even about that. For me, it's about control. AC Yeah, 100%. So when you've done the ordering and you're sending the build materials like fixtures, plumbing, etc., are you sending that to your receiving warehouse or do those materials go straight to the site? 00;33;57;12 - 00;34;21;25 KH Most of the time we're sending it to the receiving warehouse or something. AC Including tile? KH Yes, including tile, depending on the timing of it. Of course we have if we order a tile that is made out of state and has a long lead time, we'll just automatically put it to the receiving warehouse because we just kind of want it done in that order executed. 00;34;21;28 - 00;34;42;07 KH But if a tile is getting cut locally first, we'll try to store it with the person that's cutting it for X amount of time and then deliver it to right. But if that's not possible, then it'll go to a receiving warehouse, then to site. We sort of just sort of fill it out. How to minimize fees for our client and then also not risk the damage to things sitting on site too long. 00;34;42;10 - 00;35;04;00 AC Certainly. And so when you have, for instance, tile or even fixtures sitting at the receiving warehouse, does your receiver then deliver it for you or would your contractor go pick it up from the receiving warehouse when they're ready for it? KH Not the we have never had a contractor pick up from a receiving warehouse. Part of our procurement fee service is coordinating all the logistics. 00;35;04;03 - 00;35;22;04 KH So we will have sometimes the receiving warehouse will deliver it to site. But if we think we know a mover that's not that expensive, they'll just a third party will pick up from them and take it to the warehouse. We've also picked up things every once in a while, like if it's hardware, you know, we everything is just case by case. 00;35;22;11 - 00;36;01;19 KH How to be smart with our time and our client's money. Really, That's all it comes down to. AC Brilliant. Thank you so much. How does your construction management process differ for distance design clients? Like are you doing a lot of clients that are not necessarily in the general Southern California region, or are you even though you know, you can be in Southern California and still hours from you, are you deferring that process at all as far as like how often you can be on site, what kind of documentation you're getting if you're requiring face time three times a week, Like how do you handle that when it's not somewhere you can get to easily? 00;36;01;21 - 00;36;27;05 KH Yeah, absolutely. A great question. Site visits are reduced for sure. We sort of figure out what are the benchmark points when we need to absolutely be there. And then depending on the scope of the project, like if it's really if they're huge project, then we do request face times like when cabinetry goes in or when the contractor is at the workroom checking on built ins or photos. 00;36;27;05 - 00;36;50;16 KH We'll have a shared album, whatever we can do to just constantly stay connected. But yeah, of course our involvement is less great then, so we just make sure that the contractor has a good project manager that can do the job that we would kind of be doing more if it was a local client. So it is, it is more of a distance physically and I think mentally as well. 00;36;50;16 - 00;37;14;00 KH You're just not you're not there. You don't know what's going on when you're talking about the times that you feel are like non-negotiables to do site visits. AC As you mentioned, you were saying right, is framing goes up and then when plumbing is drafted and when lighting is wrapped as well are those things that you would make a trip for or would it be kind of at the end of those three? 00;37;14;03 - 00;37;38;27 KH It would probably be the first initial framing if it was a substantial project out of town, Initial framing 100% would never miss that. And usually I actually usually I can clump an initial framing with plumbing, electrical at the same time, and it depends maybe on the team involved. If there's an architect that's done his own visit and feels everything is good, you know, then he has ownership or she has ownership over that. 00;37;38;29 - 00;37;58;10 KH But yeah, I guess that would be framing walkthrough no matter what should be done. And then plumbing, electrical all on their own at that same time. Then you can go through the first round of materials because the site will be ready for that, which is amazing. AC So you have so much experience and I feel like you've been so open with your lessons. 00;37;58;12 - 00;38;22;17 AC Are there any hiccups in the process that you have learned to anticipate? And you're like, We're going to avoid that. And if so, what are they so we can do the same? KH gosh, I'm always learning of new hiccups. I think. I think more than I think more than anything. This is going to sound a little bit pessimistic, I guess, but it's sort of just like trust No one at this point. 00;38;22;19 - 00;38;51;17 KH It's really just being very vigilant, even if that contractor, it seems, is extremely friendly, very capable, is on email, is on Dropbox, is saying all the right things. I still I mean, I've still gotten like a bit deceived by those wonderful qualities. A person has, but then see that their workmanship is terrible. So there's really nothing I can do to anticipate or warn anybody about it. 00;38;51;17 - 00;39;14;06 KH But I think now, you know, I ask to meet with subs more often. Even if it's an out of town project. I will request the subcontractors contact information if they're willing to give it, and I will get on the phone myself when I send my initial drawings. And there's just it's all like I said before, a little bit about control is your giving your designs and what the client wants. 00;39;14;06 - 00;39;33;13 KH It's not through my designs, it's the client's designs. It's what they've approved giving it to complete strangers that can do whatever with it, you know. So I'm just now, even though people can be perfectly nice, it does not mean they do a great job. And I have just gotten my spidey senses about that more and more in tune over the years. 00;39;33;13 - 00;39;55;07 KH But I think it's just always going to be evolving. You never know what you're going to get, which again, is why it's important to charge hourly for that process and not be on a flat fee. Unless your flat fee is like millions of dollars, I don't know, whatever is worth it. So. AC Right. You know, you don't know what you're you don't know, unfortunately. 00;39;55;09 - 00;40;25;27 AC What do you see in hindsight as you look at like your average project over the years. Would you say that when you're billing for project management versus versus the design flat fee, which of those ends up being more I don't want to say lucrative, but ends up being a larger number? Does your design time cost more or typically as you wrap up a project, is it the actual management time that ends up being the more costly side of it? 00;40;25;29 - 00;40;48;10 KH I think it's the management side that ends up being more costly for sure. AC Yeah. KH Hands down. AC That's super helpful to know as they start as people start to think about how to explain it to a client and how do you explain the process and why they need to have this much budget allocated for your design fees? Even though the design time is only this much, there's so much more time involved in that. 00;40;48;13 - 00;41;13;15 AC Between your own historic renovation. Your home is so beautiful. I love it. You did such a fabulous job every week. I've really enjoyed getting to see behind the curtain and dozens and dozens of clients over the years. What has been the hardest lesson that you've experienced? KH I think it's touching a little bit on what I had said before about, you know, trust and working with people that, you know, it will just be, yes, people. 00;41;13;17 - 00;41;37;06 KH And I and my personality is I love responsibility. And we have a lot of responsibility to our job. And it's a big weight to carry because there is financial responsibility on your client's behalf. There is aesthetic teamwork, logistical. There is a lot of responsibility. And I will like leave me with your stuff. It will be handled. It is on me and it is now like tattooed on me. 00;41;37;06 - 00;41;55;07 KH All of these are responsibilities. And I think that's I've learned that that is not something that you can expect from others. And some people just don't really care about it that much and just will be yes, people. Yeah, no problem. I can do it or I can hit that timeline that you tell the client, yeah, no problems. 00;41;55;10 - 00;42;14;14 KH So-and-so said that will be on time and then you relay that message, then you're in the middle and you look like you've messed up. And there's just this kind of Now, now I'm trying to find this combination of, you know, seeing that people will disappoint me, I think, you know, on the job and not care as much as we do. 00;42;14;14 - 00;42;36;12 KH But, you know, I can't hold them to the level that I hold myself either. So that that those are still hard lessons I'm working through and how to, you know, be nice and approachable and fun and friendly while still like slamming the hammer down, but also not being the middleman, though there is there are a lot of nuances and I don't know when I will have the answer for that exactly. 00;42;36;12 - 00;43;02;05 AC But I feel like as a business owner, really believing and understanding that you can only control what you can control is the hardest lesson. As a business owner, we're so dedicated to our craft and whatever it is we're producing and to rely so much in this industry on other people to execute it, that that is a very hard thing to swallow. 00;43;02;05 - 00;43;23;27 AC So I completely empathize with that being your biggest lesson that some people just I mean, really just nobody's going to care as much as you do. That's just the end of the day as you find your new normal. As a parent, are there any changes to your process, especially when it comes to construction management that you'll be making? 00;43;23;29 - 00;43;55;23 KH That is a great question that I need an answer for sooner than later. I think that the type of projects that I'm going to be looking to take on would have a certain caliber of contractor I'm looking for now that I was not cracking down on as much before just because we've had so many experiences with, I think with also contractors being so busy with COVID and people running around like I like chickens without heads, there is now like kind of a downgraded level of service. 00;43;55;23 - 00;44;16;28 KH I feel in our industry where, you know, even though COVID is, you know, it's not really over, but it's just there's just this whole, you know, it is what it is because, you know, you're lucky to have me here, period. Like there is like a shortage of materials. There's a shortage of this. There's no shortage of materials. Like, come on, you're just now making excuses. 00;44;17;05 - 00;44;38;06 KH I'm sorry. I'm just going on a tangent. I think I'm just going to be looking for contractors that care a lot, probably that are more expensive. So, yeah, I'm probably, you know, higher profile projects where we don't have to just do the basics like, you know, Hey so-and-so, did you print the deck that I sent that I said, Please print in all caps in the subject? 00;44;38;17 - 00;45;03;18 KH no, I forgot. Okay, let me run to Kinko's, please. You know, we end up doing a lot of, like, assistant work, and I think I'm ready to let that chapter go as I have more important things to spend my time doing. And also, like, I didn't charge my clients for babysitting contractors. Sometimes there are so many things that we do, and I'm going to get a little bit more stringent on what I will not be doing moving forward with contractors. 00;45;03;18 - 00;45;23;00 KH These people need to be accountable for their own job and doing a good job at it. All We can do is do the design documentation and check in periodically to make sure we're all on track. That's just something I'm going to have to keep repeating over and over again, but I'm not going to be calling them late, late night or texting them like, is everything in my email clear? 00;45;23;03 - 00;45;47;24 KH Like they can ask me now if it's unclear? And that's the one I'm going to be putting forth. AC I love that mantra for you, Katie. As always, I love to end an episode of the Interior Collective with something fun, some sneaky news or anything you have coming up. Do you have something in the pipeline for KMI that you can share with us? 00;45;48;24 - 00;46;10;18 KH I don't know if I can share who it is with, actually, I know I cannot, but I have a furniture collaboration coming out next year for a big retailer, and that is all about that. AC That is exciting. And I already have guesses as to who it is, so I can't wait to see if I'm right Katie. This was so informative. 00;46;10;18 - 00;46;30;09 AC I know you have saved our listeners hundreds of hours sharing your lessons. Thank you so much for being so open and just candid with everything and dollar amounts and how you charge it, just the things that you can't seem to look up online. So we appreciate it so, so much. KH My pleasure. We are all in this together. I'm happy to share. 00;46;30;12 - 00;46;52;11 AC Thank you so much. And I'll talk to you soon. Thank you so much for joining us today. Katie, I've so enjoyed following along in your personal design journey, watching you blossom as a mother and seeing you thrive as a designer. You can follow Katie on Instagram @KatieHodgesDesign and view her impressive portfolio at KatieHodgesdesign.com. 00;46;52;13 - 00;47;15;29 AC If you missed any of the links mentioned in today's episode, you'll find the full transcript and sources included in the show notes. You can find more details about all of our episodes outlined at the interior.co/podcast. As always, thank you so much for listening. Please give us a review on Apple Podcasts. Getting to chat with some of my biggest idols and dear friends in the industry is definitely the best part of my job. And your support means so much. Until next time. I'm Anastasia Casey and this is The Interior Collective.

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