Construction Documentation with Tess Twiehaus

Episode 5 April 05, 2024 01:04:35
Construction Documentation with Tess Twiehaus
The Interior Collective
Construction Documentation with Tess Twiehaus

Apr 05 2024 | 01:04:35


Show Notes

Get sample constrution documents, FF&E Schedules, and construction drawing disclaimers now on Patreon.

Tess Twiehouse, founder of Tess Interiors, discusses the importance of comprehensive construction documentation in interior design projects. She shares insights into managing construction documents and communication with contractors. Tess explains the process of creating bid sets and construction documents, including file storage and regular communication with contractors and trades. She also discusses the team structure at Tess Interiors and the number of projects they handle simultaneously. The conversation highlights the significance of revisions during the construction phase and the documentation and communication process followed by Tess's team. In this conversation, Tess dissects the process of creating construction documents and the importance of clear communication with contractors and trades. She explains how the furniture budget is determined and how materials, finishes, and cabinet details are applied to the construction documents. Tess emphasizes the need for detailed schedules, including materials, appliances, plumbing, and lighting. She also discusses the use of concept decks and the importance of revisions and communication throughout the project. Anastasia shares insights into the software and tools she uses to keep organized, including Google Drive and Dropbox. She concludes with expanding on meeting note documentation to maximize searchability and minimize any miscommunication.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:07] Speaker A: Hi and welcome back to the interior collective. In today's conversation, Tess Tweehouse, the founder of Tess Interiors, shares her journey in the interior design industry and discusses the importance of comprehensive construction documentation. This is the hottest topic here on the podcast and I'm so grateful for everything that Tessa is about to share. We are talking through her team structure, the number of projects they handle simultaneously, and the extensive process of creating bid sets and construction documents. Tess shares insights into the process of managing construction documents and communication with contractors in interior design projects, and we are breaking down the exact details of each document. We're covering everything from file storage for internal and external collaboration, as well as regular communication with contractors and trades. Tess explains the components of a finished, complete set of drawings and the importance of revisions during the construction phase. And we'll even take it a step further as Tess discusses the documentation and communication process, her team follows, including meeting notes and shared schedules. As a reminder, all of these documents are shared on our [email protected] the interior collective so you can see exactly what Tess is referencing as a Patreon subscriber. Remember to download this episode because it'll be one that you come back to again and again. Ansax recently launched a dozen new collections, ranging from beautiful stone mosaics to artful terracotta with marble inserts, and also sustainable artist series tile made from nearly 100% recycled materials. Be sure to check out their website to view the new collections and order samples from your Anzac showroom. We are so excited to invite you to dive deeper into the interior collective. Podcast episodes now on Patreon unlock access to in depth analysis, helpful downloads and worksheets created with each podcast episode. Subscribers gain behind the scenes access to additional resources like examples and screenshots of guest sponsors, spreadsheets, construction documents, and so much more. Your subscription also gets you immediate access to our private community of interior designers and our team of industry experts. Ready to answer your questions? Subscribe [email protected]. The interior collective or linked in the show notes join the interior collective Patreon community and let's continue this conversation. Hi Tess, and welcome to the interior collective. I am geeking out. So excited to have you on the show. [00:02:32] Speaker B: Hi, thank you so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be here and super flattered, so can't wait. [00:02:40] Speaker A: We have a very technical show to get through, so I'm not going to do too much fluff. But I think, as with every episode, it's really helpful to know, kind of like where we're at where we started because it can put a lot of things into context for us. So firstly, can we just talk about this meteoric rise to stardom that Des interiors has been going through and just kind of like, where did that come from? Was that the plan? How did it happen? [00:03:09] Speaker B: Oh, my God, that adjective. Thank you. Well, it started. I always knew I wanted to be an interior designer since I found out it was a job. So that was definitely in the cards. I went to school for it, got my degree in interior design, and then when I graduated, it was really pushing some commercial projects and going to a commercial firm. So I actually got my start doing, like, offices, and I did actually like, retirement homes. It was sort of like the unsexier side of design. I was working at an architecture firm, and that actually gave me a huge part of my skill set of just being super practical, super technical. So even though my brain loves to just go super out of the box, it sort of, like, taught me to channel that into, like, how to make it really happen. But eventually I really did crave more of, like, the sexier side. So creeped into hospitality, and I loved doing hotels and restaurants. It was incredible. Definitely, like, more my speed. Again, super technical, doing a lot of the drawing side there at that firm. And then I hit the switch and I was like, I really want to get into residential. I just feel like it's so personal. You're not presenting to a board. You're not presenting to, you know, these people who aren't actually interacting with the space. I want to be talking to the people who are. So that got me to residential. And then I sort of popcorned at a few firms, and then COVID happened, got laid off. And then that night I was like, okay, I'm launching it. And I went on Squarespace and launched my hideous first website, and it was test dot. So, yeah, so that's sort of the arc, but it's always been the game plan. I've always wanted my own studio, and it eventually just worked out exactly how it was supposed to happen. [00:04:55] Speaker A: Well, that's so fascinating that you were laid off from your firm as COVID hit, because as business owners, everyone was freaking out. And I bet you not three months later they were like, oh, shit, come back. Because now we are slammed and booming. But what a graceful push forward to do something that you might not have thought you were ready to do. I have a similar story of how I launched id go. And I think that it was serendipitous that it happened right at COVID, because I'm sure you were pretty busy right off the bat. [00:05:30] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, it was one of those things, like, April 2020. Everything was scary. Everyone was panicking. No one had a crystal ball to tell them what was going to happen. So I totally understand, you know, why I got laid off. But exactly as you said, it was just, like, a few weeks later, really, when everything started to explode. I mean, people were stuck inside their homes, and they wanted to make them happy. You know, they didn't know how long they were going to be in there. So it was totally a blessing in disguise, and I'm super thankful for it. But I did not start out with, like, a list of clients. So I was, like, on these random Facebook groups, just talking to people who had interior design questions, being like, hey, I have an interior. I'm an interior designer, you know, follow me on my new Instagram account that I just made. And, like, I was just anywhere and everywhere to try to get the word out. Like, I remember one of my first clients, this woman in Michigan, had, like, a lazy voice sofa, and I was sourcing from target to decorate it because I was like, I just have to get this show on the road. But it eventually, you know, sort of exploded and gained momentum. And I'm just so grateful for it because I feel like it's exactly where I want to be. It's exactly what I want to be doing. That's so exciting. [00:06:46] Speaker A: I'm so thrilled for you. I wanted to get into that a little deeper because so often on the show, we're chatting with someone and they're like, it was grind. [00:06:54] Speaker B: It was hustle. [00:06:55] Speaker A: I was in Facebook groups, I was knocking on doors, and then everything just came to be. So I'd love to talk about the actual bridge between sourcing target pillows for a lazy boy to the type of projects that you are being hired to bring to life now. Like, where's that gap? [00:07:20] Speaker B: Yes. Oh, my gosh. Okay, so I listen to your podcast a ton, as you. As I mentioned. I love it. And I always wonder this exact question because you hear these heavy hitters talking, and I'm like, what is the in between? So for me, that in between was. I mean, I still feel like I'm in an in between, to be totally honest. Like, you're constantly pushing for the next thing, the next level. So to be perfectly frank, I feel like I just said yes to everything that came my way and then really focused on I don't want to say my brand. Cause I don't know if that's 100% accurate. But I did focus on, like, putting out into the world what I knew I could create. So I'm not a DIy person. So I was not going to go try to diy something in my house that wasn't genuine to me. But I did love. See, I'm, like, obsessed with interiors, so I shared a lot of interiors on my instagram that speak to me and that I know I'm capable of creating as well. So I put that out into the world and really invited people to see what I see. And I feel like the hustle in between was really about saying yes to everyone and eventually, like, earning that trust with people, and that just takes time. So even though it seems like everything exploded overnight, the reason I say I'm still in the in between is because I'm still, like, like, earning that trust with clients every day and, like, winning bigger and bigger projects. But, you know, it's been almost four years, so that is a chunk of time. You know, you just show up, you do the work, and eventually, I mean, people say word of mouth is what gets you bigger and bigger projects. And I really do believe that's true because you're proving yourself constantly and then you're photographing and you just sort of acquire more and more evidence of what you're capable of. So I feel like I started with putting out there into the universe what I wanted to attract. And I now, like, when I'm, like, given the opportunity, it's just about showing up, doing what I know I can do, and keeping it moving. Like, just keep pushing forward and striving for the next thing. [00:09:29] Speaker A: Well, we will talk about this more at the end of the episode, but I just, on a personal level, know that you have quite a few projects. Like, you are wrapping things, getting things photographed. And, like, when this episode airs, I'm fingers crossed, hoping that we're, like, going to get to just really see this explosion of you putting out into the world not just what you've seen, but what you've created. And that's just so exciting. So thank you for sharing that journey and, like, what actually happens in the in between, because that was super helpful to be sharing what it is that you love, what your eye shows. And, like, that can be a great launching point to start to prove what you're capable of creating. Fast forward to today. Can you talk to us about your corporate structure? How many people are on your team, including full time, part time contracts? [00:10:16] Speaker B: Absolutely, yeah. So we have seven employees total. Five of them are on the design side. So it's structured where there are two seniors and then two intermediates. So essentially two teams. And so we have Marissa, Chelsea, and then on their team is Diana, Emily, and then Julia is our procurement coordinator, who supports both teams. So that's why I say there's five on the design side, because they're really touching every single project. I could not do this by myself. Like, they keep the ship moving, so that's them. And then we have Nate, who happens to be my husband, on the finance side, helping me send invoices to clients, you know, own the money in, money out, work with our bookkeeper. And then we also have Annie, our office manager, who happens to be my sister, and she sort of helps keep everything going. She's, you know, fielding all of the project inquiries that we get, helping the team out with all the software we need. And everyone currently is contracted. So the five designers, they are full time. I work with them every single day, all day. But then Nate and Annie are not full time. So I just do independent contractors all the way. It was the clearest in my mind, especially with how volatile everything was in the beginning, because I did hire my team pretty quickly, and early on, I was like, this makes the most sense. We'll just bill what we're actually working on, and I'll have them there on standby to do what needs to be done. And then it just snowballed, and now I need them for all kinds of things. [00:11:52] Speaker A: Amazing. So you answered one of my questions. I was wondering how. How much of a work week Nate has. Like, is he full time, part time? Does Nate, who handles finance, is. Does he do other things? Like, in other time? Just wondering, with a team of seven, how. How much time you have found that role requires? [00:12:15] Speaker B: Oh, I would say, actually, I'd love to ask him what he thinks it takes. I think it's, like, a couple hours a week, honestly. But we talk every single day, the perks of working with your husband. So I feel like he might have a different number because it might be higher than I even realize. But the work he's putting in to, like, put together those invoices, get all the hours from the team and all of that stuff. It does take a lot of time, hence why he's working with me. So I would say probably, you know. [00:12:44] Speaker A: 5 hours a week, and then you have a bookkeeper on top of that. That role is not handling the bookkeeping. [00:12:50] Speaker B: Day to day as well. Yeah. [00:12:52] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:12:52] Speaker B: So we just have them do all the formalities. We use studio designer and so they go in there and they just close out every single expense. Just all the. As the numbers got bigger and the projects got bigger, it got more intimidating for us to handle on our own. So, yes, she owns all of that. And she. I don't know what I would do without her. [00:13:13] Speaker A: Okay, so with this team of seven, is that seven including you? [00:13:18] Speaker B: No, I guess I'm eight. Yeah. [00:13:21] Speaker A: Okay, so with a team of eight, how many projects are you taking on simultaneously? Obviously there are different stages, but, like, how many do you feel comfortable and is your sweet spot? [00:13:35] Speaker B: Oh, that's a great question. I think it started with, like, 19. It was very hectic. Again, I was saying yes to everything. So that number, you know, take it with a grain of salt nowadays. And again, it depends on each team, but we have, I want to say, like, eleven or twelve is our sweet spot. And some of them, I would say half of them are full service soup to nuts, like complete construction projects all the way through furniture. And some projects are remodeling just the kitchen. But actually, I like you. So can you source the furniture here? So we sort of have those, like, scope creep projects, which I love, but it's definitely a mixed bag. [00:14:17] Speaker A: Awesome. Thank you so much for clarifying that. So you are special and unique in the history of our episodes because we have probably a 60 40, 70 30 split of people who are trained interior designers and those who have found their way to the industry. And so with your educational and professional background, how has the emphasis on comprehensive construction documentation become, in my opinion, such an integral and identifying unique perspective of testing tears? We're going to talk all about construction documents. I know that you are like, that is your love language. How did we get there? And then we're going to dig in deep. [00:15:04] Speaker B: Yes. So it's. It's a little funny, I think, because in the beginning, I was just craving the creative, I was craving the mood board, I was craving the materials, palettes, and just everything that was tactile and evoked any sort of emotion. And then because my school was pushing this commercial side, I feel like I got thrown into this very technical world. And I didn't really consider myself such a technical girl at first. And then I really fell in love with it. And I just feel like every job I got thereafter, it was just my strength. It was how I, you know, bounced from one place to the next and what I brought to the table. And then I still don't even realize that. I don't think I realized or acknowledged that it was my strength. I think it's just what got me in the door and kept me going. And then once I started my studio, my first two hires, my seniors, Chelsea and Marissa, they are so detail oriented and take so much pride in their construction drawings that I feel like we just hit our stride. I was like, this is it, you guys. This is unlocking everything. It's like it's our instruction manual to make these dreams come true. And I feel like it just has made us take so much pride in creating them and detailing them. So even though I started out not really thinking that was my thing, I think just through experience and then through my team, it made me realize, like, this is our bread and butter. This is what we're great at. [00:16:32] Speaker A: Okay, a couple follow up questions. There a April 2020. When you were launching test interiors, was that just you at the beginning? Or did you launch test interiors knowing that you were going to have contractors right away? [00:16:45] Speaker B: So I launched it with just me. Again, not a whole lot of time to, like, business plan when you get laid off. So I was like, okay, here we go. I got this. I know all the tools. I've been trained to do this. And then once I got my first big project, which was in July of 2020, that's when I was like, this is pretty meaty. I could use another pair of hands because I was still doing so many other little projects on my own. So that's when I hired Marissa first. And honestly, it just was like. Like we were just designed soul mates. That's when it really exploded. And I was like, okay, I no longer wish to do this alone ever again because she brought so much to the table with her. I want to say 15 years of experience that although I thought I had so many things on lock, you just learn from collaboration time and time again. [00:17:38] Speaker A: One of the first impressions prospective clients have of your brand is your website. If you don't have a strong online presence to show off your work, though, you're losing out on potential clients. Idco Studio offers the selection of limited edition website templates designed specifically for interior designers just like you. If you're looking for a more hands off experience, you can add on implementation and professional copywriting, and we'll have your new website up and running within a few short weeks. Visit idcode studio to choose your favorite before it sells out. Okay, so I want to talk about that hiring process, and if you could elaborate on your approach to training your team members to maintain the same level of attention to detail in those construction documents as you do. Like what level, what methods do you use for training. And if this isn't something you train and they're expected to know when they come to you, how do you interview slash test for it during that interview process? [00:18:35] Speaker B: Yes. Yes. Okay, so I definitely, I want to say lucked out. When I hired Marissa, she was a recommendation through a friend, and she knows so much about cad and construction drawings. Her dad is a carpenter, so she's just like, chef's kiss. It was a slam dunk from the beginning. And Chelsea, I actually worked with at a previous firm, so again, knew her background. I'm just going to be totally transparent. Lucked out with the both of them. First try. Um, but then over the few years, again, like, you realize you need support. In the same way that I realized I needed support. I was like, okay, my two seniors need support. And that hiring process and learning how it trickles down was interesting. I feel like I always take the interview if they seem like a cool person and if they have a cool portfolio, like, right off the bat, if you don't email me and say, dear sir slash madam, and you actually say, hi, tess. And have something, you know, a unique perspective and something to say. Nine times out of ten, I'll meet you for coffee. And then in that meetup, I usually try to inquire of, like, what you've done in the past and really get a feel for what you enjoy doing more than anything because anyone can sit there and tell you they've done x, y, and z. I think everyone's done that in an interview. But what do you actually like and what do you actually hate? So I try to get a feel for it. I don't make anyone do an actual cad test when I hire them. I worked for someone who made me do that. She made me do all kinds of tests. And I was like, I sort of wish we could just have a conversation and see if we work well together because I felt like I was, like, in finals week or something. So I really keep it conversational and I try to pinpoint what they're great at, and then I bring them on the team. Because they're contracted employees, it's pretty low risk, so I usually just give them a shot. And we. It's sort of crazy how, like, intensely organized we are, but we have standards and an onboarding method that when new people come on, we're very strict about following. Like, there's all these Google Docs that we have that list out, our standards. You have to familiarize yourself with them. And then it's expected that the senior and myself are constantly checking in, making sure everyone is getting it, and so on and so forth. But as far as, like, hiring the right people, I think that I just go with my gut. Most of the time, I see how they work with their senior, because that is probably the most important thing next to working with me. And then from there, if it's not a great fit, I just sort of cut it off fast and say, look, we are really fast paced. We're new, and I'm just. I need someone who has x, y, and z skills. And it's not personal, but when we're ready to train more, like, really, really train and teach people cad, I'll hit you up in, like, five years when we're there. But we're just too snappy and too scrappy to, like, you know, hold, you know, hold back and slow things down. [00:21:41] Speaker A: So if you are testing your candidates, do you look at, like, they have a great portfolio? Are you looking at their CAD drawings as well, or they're, more importantly, their CAD files? Like, do you get access to those, or you're just like, great. You're telling me that you worked on this beautiful photo craft project. I believe you, and we jive. So welcome aboard. [00:22:03] Speaker B: I mean, I'm asking a lot of questions about the how. And I feel like anyone who works in the industry knows what can go wrong on any given day on any given project. So I usually am trying to get to the nitty gritty of what are, like, the hardest obstacles you've overcome and really, like, how did you deal with that, and how do you think you could prepare for that next time? So I usually like to have the deeper conversations of tell me, like, the worst experiences you've had and how you want to, like, bounce back from them, because I think everyone learns from their mistakes, so I keep it really conversational. I really trust my gut, and I also just keep it moving if I'm wrong, you know? [00:22:44] Speaker A: Yeah, absolutely. My best friend, Lindsey from Lindsey Brooke design, had taught me a long time ago that you hire slow and fire fast. You take your time finding the right person, and if it's not the right fit, you need to admit that, as the business owner, quickly and cut ties. And if it means you circle back around in five years, because personally, they were a great fit, then you have to do that. But that was a big lesson I learned, for sure. Okay, the meaty part. Let's go. Okay, we've cut. We have covered client documentation on a few other episodes in the show. Definitely listen to Sam Struck's episode to kind of align with this one as well. But I want to skip ahead a little bit to the beginning phase of the project. When you're defining scope, getting estimates from contractors, and defining that budget, what level of documentation have you completed at this initial design discovery phase? Everyone is struggles with, how much work am I doing at this initial phase to say, yes, we're a good fit, please hire me. Yes, you have the right amount of money to do this, and this is going to work without having spent dozens of hours coming up with design concepts to say, yes, we can do this. [00:24:02] Speaker B: Yeah, such a great question. I feel like what we do is we create a bid set, first and foremost. So we're typically already hired for the job, and we just dive right in. We let our clients know this is going to take probably one to two months to create. It's going to be a comprehensive package of what we understand that you want. And that bid set is based on the number that they've given us already. That number is, of course, not the real number. People usually give you the inquiry and they're like, I think I want to spend this much. So we take that information and we draw what we think will land them at that price. And we also are drawing sort of the pie in the sky details that we want to see happen, because without a doubt, once you submit that bid set, you're going to go through a value engineering phase. So we spend a good chunk of time drawing that initial set. That initial set is the foundation that takes us through the entire project. So it's in no way a waste of time. Um, but we do draw details that we know could be a little bit pricier, and we know that we can cut back and, you know, pull back the reins as needed, but we try to give our client the options in that initial set that show them. Okay, you love these cabinetry details. Well, then we'll probably have to go with this lighting plan over here, if that makes sense. So we're fully prepared to have that conversation and help them make sacrifices as they need. But we want to start off with, like, the entire game plan. So we can literally hand it over to the general contractor, hand it over to the subcontractors, and get real numbers, because none of it's going to happen if you aren't realistic from the beginning. So we try to be as realistic as possible, get as close to that number as possible, and sprinkle in a few high in the sky ideas just so that we can, you know, maybe there's a little more wiggle room. Or maybe this is something they're going to want to do in phase two, but we do want to give them that entire dream first and foremost, get it priced out so we can then know what we're working with and edit from there. [00:26:11] Speaker A: Okay, amazing. Back up a little bit. You said that you have already been. A contract has already been signed. I know that there are a lot of designers out there who are like, we can't get to that point until someone's like, how much is this going to cost? At what point over the last four years since launching your studio did you implement the. A contract has to be signed in order for me to tell you what you can do for this amount of money? Or what? Was there an evolution to that as well? [00:26:44] Speaker B: So this might be controversial, but I go to the house for free once I have a discovery call and I think it's like a real project and we would hit it off. And I go to that house and I'm just, like, spewing ideas and we're just, like, going at it and I'm just, like, letting them have it, you know what I mean? But I don't actually start working and start billing anything until that contract is signed. And that's how I've been since the beginning. Like that first big project we got in July 2020, a contract was signed and I do my best to give them estimated hours. And I know that's really hard to do when you don't know what the scope is going to be. So I really do to that sentiment, but I do my best and I try to round up and I tell them, like, you know, the scope is in your control. It can go high. It can go low. So this is just an estimate. We all need to be aware of that. But I do not start working until that contract is signed because it just gets so messy and it starts to feel like you might be working for free. And I just think it could get super dicey. I did one time. It was such a huge project that I agreed to, like, get paid at the end of certain phases. Spoiler alert. I worked nine months and did not get paid. So, like, I have said yes to some things and it just was a lesson to me because ultimately I think you are worth it and you should get a contract in place and have it be flexible enough where you can make edits on the fly, increase, decrease scope, and just sort of roll with it. [00:28:26] Speaker A: I love that. So typically what I have heard from people is that you should be charging for your consultations. And so that that time is not wasted. But I love this alternative option where your initial consultation is actually totally complimentary. You can get a vibe check. They can get a vibe check. You can really see the level of excitement they have about it if you're going to be a good match and then you feel a lot more confident being able to move right into a contract phase to start with that initial, what did you call that first phase of design documentation. [00:29:00] Speaker B: We call it the bid set. Like you're getting your gathering all perfect. [00:29:05] Speaker A: Okay, well that's fantastic. I love that. I bet that that feels really good from a client perspective. And I think that you can feel a lot better about knowing, you know, is this going to go the direction I want? By the time someone signs a contract with you, you have a lot more trust with them. So thank you for sharing that. That's amazing. Okay, so how do you prepare your contractors to get the best possible bid estimates when the actual design hasn't been completed? And maybe you've already answered this because you've done the bid set, but what is the difference? How different is the bid set from like the actual final drawings? [00:29:44] Speaker B: Yes, this is a trickier one because I feel like they should be basing their price off of the bid set. But as any designer knows, designs evolve from that initial set to by the time you're actually hitting go. So I feel like the way I work with my contractors is we will gather the initial bids from the jump and from that bid set. But we don't usually have the client sign a particular vendor on or subcontractor on until a little bit more down the road when we have like the final design and then we get a new bid from them. So that's sort of part of the process with value engineering. For instance, like let's say we have all inset cabinetry. Typically that's a little more expensive than overlay cabinetry. So our bid set will include inset. Let's say a cabinet maker gives us their number. That number then scares the client and we say, don't worry, we can pull back. We can do x, y and z. So then they are going to have to rebid again anyways. So yeah, usually that bid set is the jumping off point. The client gets serious about what they do and do not want and then the subcontractors get sort of a round two to submit their final numbers. [00:30:59] Speaker A: This is a little out of order, but I'm just curious as you're doing this bid set and then value engineering to get to the final designs. Do you typically require, and I'm saying that, quote, unquote, your clients to do you work by presenting the entire space, whether that's the whole house or just the kitchen, depending on what the scope of the project is. Do you require the entire scope of the project to all be designed at once or are you going room by room? [00:31:27] Speaker B: So that typically depends on the client and what they've asked for. You know, if their scope is just, let's say one room, obviously we're only going to tackle that. But if they are, if it's the whole house, we want to design the whole house, we don't like to piece mail, especially when it comes to the bid set, because you're trying to think through that initial number they gave you. You're trying to execute and take from one room and give to another and create like a high impact design. So I would say we, the reason we ask for that one to two months to create the bid set is because it takes time to really think it all through and execute every single room and be able to present it back and say, we did this because of this, we did that because of that. And it's really just this give and take from room to room. [00:32:16] Speaker A: Can you walk us through how detailed that bid set is? If, for instance, are you giving a general number for the furnishings of the living room or are you like, we have sourced the living room with x, y and z options, this price, this price and this price, or are those furnishings and, you know, last finishes kind of a worlding this much to this space. [00:32:40] Speaker B: So the furnishings is actually its own separate budget that we own. And it's super detailed. So I have to credit Emily to this. When I brought her on, she like skyrocketed the way we do this. But we have a furniture budget that's based on our furniture plan. So the furniture plan will be included in the bid set. We'll draw out the layout that we are picturing at the end. But the actual furniture budget we create is this huge spreadsheet that has a low, medium and high option. And every single item that's drawn in plan, let's say your living room has a sofa, a coffee table, two chairs, a console. Every single one of those pieces will be in this budget and you'll have a low, medium and high. So we don't do that until a little bit later in the project. And so we just a lot that the biggest number we can think of basically based on what's proportional to the project in the beginning. But then we get into the nitty gritty of the furniture budget later because we like to give our clients the opportunity to say, I don't want to spend this much in my kid's room, but I do want to spend this in my primary. So we get really nitty gritty into the furniture plan. But that's a few months later. So in the beginning, just a big number. [00:33:56] Speaker A: Ansax recently launched a dozen new collections, ranging from beautiful stone mosaics to artful terracotta with marble inserts and also sustainable artist series tile made from nearly 100% recycled materials. Be sure to check out their website to view the new collections and order samples from your Anzac showroom. Got it. Just a big number that you're essentially taking out. You're telling them, this is how much we're setting aside to do furniture. We're going to talk about that later. Great. [00:34:22] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:34:22] Speaker A: Okay. So when overall budget, including furniture, has been agreed upon with all parties, how do those construction documents begin to take shape? Like we have a number, we have a general go ahead, what happens next? [00:34:38] Speaker B: So from there we really get into applying, like materials, finishes, cabinet details. Like we start really sourcing as what I would say happens next. Um, at this point, because there's already a concept deck done and there's already a bid set done, the team should have a pretty good idea of where we're headed, um, internally and the client as well, they're usually looped in at this point. So then we start really just putting pen to paper of what was agreed upon in the budget and what did the client respond to conceptually. And we start polling. So, um, and then once you start polling, oftentimes that informs what needs to be drawn. So you're either checking a light fixture, the size and elevation, you're drawing tile layouts and figuring out exactly where the pattern should hit compared to the vanity. There's so many things that come up depending on what the design is that then need to be put in what I like to call the instruction manual. So like floor layouts, furniture plans, all the little elevations, all the little molding details, absolutely everything gets fully fleshed out now because the difference between the bid set and what we're drawing now is this is actually getting built. So this has to be detailed enough to communicate to the subcontractor who's doing it. [00:35:57] Speaker A: We're going to expand on that in a second. But you just mentioned the bid set, which we've talked about, but you also mentioned the concept drawings and I feel like we skipped over that as far as in your process, where those concept drawings fall from a client process perspective? [00:36:14] Speaker B: Yes. So I. We don't actually do concept drawings, but I always create a concept deck. It's the first thing I do on every project, and it's all imagery. It's page by page, a room breakdown, and I have all sorts of images that say, hey, here's everything in my head. Usually based off what we just did in the consultation, that I did the walkthrough in their house, and I put it all on paper and give it to them and say, what do you think? Are we aligned? Do you hate something? Do you love something? And everyone is so visual, whether they know it or not, but they can point at a picture and say, absolutely or absolutely not. So that's how we always start. [00:36:51] Speaker A: And how long from that initial consultation, they've signed a contract. How long is that concept deck turnaround time? [00:36:59] Speaker B: Typically, I would say it's about a week, and I'm the only one who's doing it. Um, no one else on the team does the concept deck because I need this to come straight from my brain. It comes straight from the conversation with the client. And that's also the way that the team can know what's in my head as well. It's really just a communication tool at this initial phase. [00:37:23] Speaker A: Are you charging a flat fee or are hourly at this point? [00:37:27] Speaker B: We are hourly across the board. Yeah. We do hourly for absolutely everything. It's just the easiest way for everyone to know what's up, what's cooking. You see it on an invoice, line item by line item, what we charge, what we're up to, how long it took, and then it's just very transparent. It's easy, especially when you have a. [00:37:47] Speaker A: Team of entirely contractors. I think that that's a big differentiating factor when you have someone on salary and you're trying to be more expeditious with time. Um, I think that that's when flat rate can maybe make more sense, but perfect. What exactly is in your version of the test? Interior standard construction documentation binder. You talk to us a little bit about how detailed it is, but, like, cover to cover, walk us through what's actually within that. [00:38:15] Speaker B: Yes. Okay, so in the binder is what it should be, is schedules. Construction schedules. So you have your drawing set that we've been referencing this whole time, and oftentimes you're tagging everything in that construction set. At least we do. So you're tagging furniture, tagging tile, tagging plumbing. So all of that needs to get translated to a spreadsheet, and all those spreadsheets then get sent to the GC. So schedules include materials, appliances, plumbing, materials, being tile in stone. But then there can be another schedule for flooring. We have a furniture schedule, we have cabinet, hardware schedule, lighting schedule. Here's the schedule for everything. It's insane. Paint, wall coverings, wall finishes, everything. Oh, moldings. We have all of it. And so it's really just, it's in a, you know, we do Google Docs. Everything's in our spreadsheets. Each tab is a different category, and then we have it all laid out and each column is saying, you know, for instance, the serial number for the appliance, so that, you know, because the cabinet maker needs to know that, the GC needs to know that, the electrician needs to know that. Or for tile, you're looking at the thickness of the tile so it can be flush with the rest of the flooring. So we put every single detail about the specifications for each and every item there. Obviously, that would be a mouthful to have to type out onto construction drawings, hence the tags. But they both speak to each other and are telling the people who are building it exactly what they need to know. [00:39:58] Speaker A: Well, that is a huge relief. At IDCO, we just launched an ff and e schedule Google sheet that's beautifully formatted, that has nice drop downs, and everything you just said is in there. So I'm like, yes, go us. We will have that in the show notes for anybody who's interested in, you know, getting a little bit of a head start on it. But it definitely seems like the kind of document that just you keep adding to forever as your project scopes get bigger and bigger. Curious as to how this construction binder is maintained and delivered in the sense of, is it a physical, digital, both type binder? [00:40:36] Speaker B: I honestly think depends on who the GC is and how they like to operate. Not everyone is super savvy in Google sheets, so we will PDF and print for people who need that and want it in a physical binder, or perhaps they tape it up in the specific room that's relevant to them. We leave that up to their discretion, but we always do it. Like I said, in Google sheets, we like to keep that live and we share it with the GC if they'd like to use it. We also will PDF anything that is finalized and email it to have a paper trail. So we do a little bit of both, but we will print for anyone who wants to do it the old school way. Nothing wrong with that, and you can check it off as you go. [00:41:20] Speaker A: That's perfect. I just saw on someone's Instagram Stories it was Marie Cloud that she, for each room, prints out a QR code to that specific sheet in the spec books so that the contractor can just go up, scan it, and then they have it for sure, the most relevant, up to date information. So thank you, Marie, for sharing that with us, because that was so helpful. How are you managing revisions to construction documents, and how are these updates communicated to your contractors? [00:41:54] Speaker B: Yes. So revisions are such a. It's just part of it. They're gonna happen. We simply redraw and then put a cloud over it. It's literally a cloud in CAD. And then you have a little triangle that has a number inside, and that number inside says, this is draft one, this is draft two. So then, and I don't know if this is getting too technical, but if you've seen a construction set, you know what I'm talking about. That little number in the triangle goes down on your title block, and it calls out what changes happen on what date. So all you have to do, draw it up, put a cloud over it, and make sure that number is accurate. And then you PDF everything, send it to the team. I cannot stress enough how important it is to always have a paper trail when changes are made, no one's going to know about them. If you just update your cad drawing and then they sit with you in Dropbox, it has to get sent out saying, hey, this change occurred. And we oftentimes will actually print out the new 24 by 36 page, bring it to the site, and insert it in the new set, because we just don't want there to be any confusion. [00:43:03] Speaker A: Definitely with those changes. What kind of communication level is there? When do you decide that it's a change that needs to be communicated to your client versus just directly to the GC? [00:43:16] Speaker B: Usually anytime there is cost associated, we want them to be aware of it. We never want our clients to feel blindsided or caught off guard. So, for instance, if a light moves, you're asking the electrician to move a j box. And then perhaps, depending on how far along in the project it is, there might already be drywall up or it might be painted. So you're actually impacting quite a few trades with that single change. So it's important to notify them as well so that they can decide, okay, it's worth it, or it's not worth it, and know exactly what they're getting into. [00:43:50] Speaker A: I'm curious as to what software's you are using for these construction documents. There's a lot of different options. Um, definitely sounds like your studio uses CAD, but there's also a lot of other design softwares that kind of go along with that. So can you walk us through, from a software perspective, what you guys are using? [00:44:09] Speaker B: Yeah, so we. Well, I used to do revit. I was such a revit girly just because of when I went to school, and it was the latest and greatest, so they were pushing it. But once I actually got into drawing for an interiors firm doing hospitality, really, it was all about CAD, because it's just the clearest way to make adjustments, I think, and just get your point across in an efficient manner. So we do CAD first and foremost, and then from there, the only other software we really use is for the 3d renderings that we do, but we outsource those to the render mill. Shout out. She's wonderful. And I don't know what she's using, if it's enscape or not, but that's how it gets translated into 3d. So we're pretty much in CAD when it comes to construction the entire time. Maybe sketch up if something is breaking our brains and we need to see it three dimensionally. But even. Even so, I mean, Chelsea, I've never seen someone draw in CAD three dimensionally so accurately. I feel like she can look at something in real life and then draw it from every single angle or like a section of it without trying. So some people have that gift. I need to go into a 3d program sometimes. It just depends on what it is. [00:45:27] Speaker A: Amazing. So we will link that source for your render. And who was that again? [00:45:31] Speaker B: The render mill. [00:45:32] Speaker A: And the render mill. [00:45:33] Speaker B: She is lovely. [00:45:34] Speaker A: Well, that's really great to know too, that even though you have very technically skilled designers on the team, you are not spending your team's own time on doing those renderings, those 3d renderings, and you are outsourcing that. So thanks for sharing that as well. On the software side of our brain, also, walk us through what softwares you're using to keep organized. I know you mentioned Google Drive. I heard you say Dropbox. I'm curious why you would have both versus just one. What are you using on that side of software? [00:46:02] Speaker B: Yes, so we use Google Drive and we use Dropbox because I think Google Drive is really just the hub for our schedules. That's all we really use it for. And we just like the format of it. And then all the PDF's from that schedule that I mentioned before actually go and live in Dropbox. So our Dropbox is set up by like active projects and then within the active projects there's like ten folders, you know, one of which is construction, which has all the dwgs in there, et cetera, et cetera. So I think that it's just like you can't teach an old dog new tricks type of thing where I just love Dropbox and I've always used it. So I like veered off for Google Drive, but then went back to Dropbox for this. I don't think there's a wrong answer. They both do the same thing. [00:46:49] Speaker A: I'm going to talk to you later about that because you're just paying for two softwares that do exactly the same thing. But I'm like, I'm going to do a whole episode on just why we swear by Google Drive and I'm going to convert you. [00:47:03] Speaker B: I think my one thing, and if you can answer this, I will be swayed. I hate downloading big files. I like them to live on my actual desk. Like just pull them, you know, and on Dropbox it can be polled and you can open up a file directly without downloading it. And there's just so many people accessing it that I don't want everyone downloading it and having it randomly on their desktop. Like, I want it to live in Dropbox. Google Drive can do that. [00:47:33] Speaker A: It sure can google, and it doesn't take up any space on your computer whatsoever. I'm like, I'm just going to set up a little 15 minutes, consult with you later. [00:47:43] Speaker B: I'm open. [00:47:44] Speaker A: I'm like, stop paying for Dropbox when you already paper drive. [00:47:47] Speaker B: Now. [00:47:48] Speaker A: If you didn't use drive, fine. But I'm like, oh, I'm going to save you like $200 a year. [00:47:52] Speaker B: Okay, I'll take. [00:47:56] Speaker A: Okay. So I am curious if you can provide insight into what the materials renders, furnishings complete set entails and its significance. Like what does finished look like when it comes to, and obviously there's revisions that happen because stuff is happening on site. But like, what does the finished complete set look like? [00:48:16] Speaker B: So the complete set, as far as the drawings go, look like you have your cover page, you have your furniture layout. I mean, I've mentioned a few of these things before. You have the RCP, you have your floor finish plan, electrical plan, floor plan, and you just keep going. You get everything on there. And then the schedules is the other piece of the puzzle. Um, and I mentioned everything that goes on each page. It should be a reflection, it should just be different information. But of the same thing, of what you just did in your construction drawings. And those two things are the final package. Um, I will say that final, like, because of all those revisions, I don't think I've ever handed something over completely and then, like, walked away for a few months while it was getting built. There's usually revisions in that window that you have to go back and you're updating both of those things simultaneously. But those are really the two main players, because the 3d renderings that we do, those are really for the clients, and even those can get outdated pretty quickly if you're making the revisions that I had mentioned. So I have seen the contractors print out our renderings and put them in the rooms, but I usually am, like, put our elevations in the rooms because those are always the latest and greatest to reference, whereas a rendering as wonderful and beautiful as they look and Beatrice is amazing, they're just not to be built from in the same way that a construction set is meant to be built from. [00:49:46] Speaker A: And you're probably not paying or passing that cost along to your client to re render every time there's a change, correct? [00:49:54] Speaker B: No, no, definitely not. I mean, we charge hourly for the drawings that we're updating, but we typically, like, the rendering is meant to show them what we see and get them on board with materials, design, everything about it. But once that job is done and they have that visual, sometimes it's worth it to render, sometimes it's not. But that's why they get outdated pretty quickly, because you may or may not need to go back and spend that time doing it at all, for sure. [00:50:22] Speaker A: Okay, so how frequently are you communicating with your contractor and the trades throughout the project? Again, this is specifically about, like, change orders or just checking in on the progress. I know some people are like, oh, during this phase will go by maybe just once a week, and then as we get closer or someone's there every day, kind of. What is your cadence for site visits and also, even if you're not on site, just phone, email, text communication. [00:50:50] Speaker B: Absolutely. So for our more long distance projects, we had a call every single week, and we have a shared album with our contractor where they are uploading photos daily. So it depends on sort of where it is and what's happening. But we like to be in the know as much as possible. So weekly calls can sometimes be bi weekly site visits, like, for our local projects where they're every other week. But I would say we're, like, in a texting deep relationship, at least if not calling each other every other day with our GC, constantly. Like, I think that I talk to my gcs every other day or at least a few times a week, as does the rest of the team. Um, so we usually keep the waves of communication wide open. There's just a lot to discuss, and it's a lot for one person to keep in their brain. So even just, like, gentle reminders go out and we try to. Yeah, check in as much as possible. [00:51:45] Speaker A: Um, being someone who's so process oriented, I'm curious if you have processes in place from a business owner standpoint of how that communication happens. I know you said you're, like, on the call or in text. I like having a paper trail, if you will, for those conversations. Are you documenting that these conversations have had? Is that kind of included? Because you're tracking that time that you're talking to them because it gets billed back? What does that look like? So you're kind of covering your butt. [00:52:17] Speaker B: Yeah. So we do meeting notes. We basically. I don't go into a meeting by myself ever. I try not to. And I usually have, like, someone from my team there who can be another pair of ears, because things happen so fast. And we, at the end of every single meeting, we create a list of notes, and we have a cute little template that we use that everything shows what we talked about. The action item, if there's a photo that's required, and then, like, the responsibility, you know, who's, like, whose cord is it in? And then we send that out to the entire team and the clients as well, because it will show up on their invoice. So we want to show them. This is the latest update, so we try to keep everyone in the loop. We're huge on being transparent. I know that some designers, you don't want the client to feel like they're seeing how the sausage is made, but at the same time, they're paying you to do this service. So I do think they appreciate whether they just skim it, glance at it, or don't even open it at all. I do think they appreciate being in the know, at least, of what's happening. [00:53:15] Speaker A: Is this one constantly running document that gets a date added every time you have a meeting, or is each meeting its own document? [00:53:26] Speaker B: Oh, my God, you're gonna laugh at me because it's Google again. So all signs are leading to Google, but I'm telling you again, where the same way, every tab is a different category for our schedules, every tab is a different date. So you can actually see it. You can go to any certain date that you need. And we like it that way specifically because oftentimes you're looking for something specific over email because everything gets sent out over email. So you can go back and find the topic. It's really easy to find that date and then just go back in there and search on your little tabs what you need to know. [00:54:08] Speaker A: Interesting. Yeah. And you can command f search your spreadsheet too, for a specific word. So that is genius. It's not a Google Doc, it's a Google sheet. Okay. [00:54:18] Speaker B: Okay. [00:54:19] Speaker A: Okay. Do you differentiate, as in have a disclaimer stamp on your drawings? Do you differentiate between to build and design only plans when providing documents to contractors? [00:54:31] Speaker B: We do, yeah. We call it a bid set or we call it a construction set. So we really emphasize do not bid or build from the bid set because I have walked on job sites where they're still using that plan and the fact is it's outdated. So we do have a little call out there and we just, again, those reminders being in touch with everyone on site. You're constantly just checking in and making sure they're looking at the right things because there's just so much information floating around. [00:54:59] Speaker A: So we have spoken to other designers who say that all of their plans are design plans, design only and not to build. And they require that their contractors, subs, work rooms, all provide their own drawings based off of yours. It kind of sounds like you guys aren't there. Talk to me about that. [00:55:25] Speaker B: So we definitely do that because what you're describing is shop drawings. So shop drawings are a must. And those come from cabinet vendors, stone vendors. You won't usually get it from a tiler. They do base it off of our plans, but you'll do what's called a dry fit and go approve the layout in person. But to go back to shop drawings, it's an absolute must because field verification is where in the beginning of the project, either you or the architect that you're working with will get the as built drawings together. Those are the drawings that are of the home as it currently is before you make your adjustments. So a lot of times there's either human error or what have you, but those measurements can be a little bit off. And someone like your cabinet maker who's actually building the cabinets to fit perfectly, snug onto a wall, maybe between two walls, they are going to measure and be super precise. So they're going to come back and say, hey, you were off by two inches in here. And that actually makes a huge difference in cabinetry so they'll get that information back to us, their drawings, and then we have to review those drawings and say, okay, you saw what we drew, you see our design intent, you then translated it into the actual, you know, situation that's happening on site, and we approve it or we make adjustments to it. So that is a crucial phase. We definitely don't skip over that. We're not above that. Um, and it also just shows, it's like a call and response that someone hears you and sees what you're going for and they got it. It just also builds trust to say, you definitely know what we're going for, you know, get, get to it. Can't wait to see it. So we, we love shop drawings. [00:57:15] Speaker A: That is crystal clear. Thank you so much for explaining that to me. Who knows nothing. So as we get closer to wrapping up, I know I've had you for a very long time. Thank you so much. Ness. Can you elaborate on the structure and the content of your ff and e schedule spreadsheet and like, literally what columns you're making sure are in there? So like what details list out in that? [00:57:38] Speaker B: Yes. So I actually, like, opened it because I didn't want to forget anything. These schedules are massive. Like, our ff and e schedules are huge. So we literally call out like, the item number, the description, the vendor, the finish, the style, the size, the quantity. We have a little notes column in case anything needs to be called out. We put an image in there, we put the list price in there, and then we also have the status of like, where it is in the ether. Also, I mean, depending on what we're talking about, like whether it's a door hardware schedule, or an appliance schedule, you're going to have different columns. So I mentioned before, your appliance schedule is going to have the actual item number. It also should have detailed dimensions in there for whoever's actually installing it, as well as like the electrical specification info. So we usually will put the actual link for everything in there so that whoever needs this information can also click it and get what they need just to double check something in case we did miss it. So there's so many detail that I don't know how detail you want me to get, but they go on and on and on. It's just, it's all about conveying everything that whoever needs to build it, like they need to know to do. [00:59:01] Speaker A: So do you have anything in there about, like where it's being shipped to, who's receiving it? Like does that go into this document or is that tracked somewhere else? [00:59:11] Speaker B: That is tracked in studio, actually, because we typically get everything to go to a warehouse. Unless it's going to the site, it's always going to one of two places. So the receiving warehouse, it's really more for, like, soft goods and then everything that's arriving on a pallet, which is usually like your appliances, your plumbing fixtures, your tile, that all goes directly to the site. So we keep that in studio. We manage it there, and then we, that's where Julia comes in as procurement coordinator. Like, really keep it super transparent with the GC to let them know when it's coming in. [00:59:45] Speaker A: Do you let your clients have regular access to construction documents? [00:59:51] Speaker B: We let them have access to the PDF's. They definitely can't get access to our CAD drawings and anything that's in progress. It just. As a general rule, no, they don't get to see any of that. We just don't want to cause confusion either. Like sometimes having too much transparency. Like, if they could just go into our Dropbox slash future Google Drive, then it could cause a lot of confusion for them of what to look at. Like, what's relevant now. So they have access to a point, but it's really just more of what's been PDF'D, what's been sent out. It's in like, the final folder or like the latest and greatest folder. [01:00:33] Speaker A: Okay, last question here. Do you keep all of these documents separately linked, as in individual links, or do these PDF's all get merged into a single master document? [01:00:47] Speaker B: They do not get merged. I mean, they get merged in the beginning when it's like being assembled as a binder. I will say that. But then as things evolve and those revisions happen, that's when things sort of break out. And if you think about it in a physical binder, you would update a single page. It's just like that. You would update a single sheet and then PDF it and email it. So, yes and no. I hope that's clear. [01:01:10] Speaker A: Yeah, no, that makes sense. Okay, so as we wrap up today's discussion, I am always, always, always fishing for a big secret. Tess, do you have any projects or upcoming collaborations, products press that you are really excited about that you can share with us? [01:01:26] Speaker B: Yes, I'm really excited to share. So a few projects in the works right now. We just photographed three projects in December. I'm hoping all of those have a moment in the sun very soon. And then we're actually photographing our biggest project this summer that I really can't wait to share. And we're going through a rebrand. We actually just wrapped that up last year, and the new website is going to be launching in a couple of months, so that is a long time coming and I'm so thrilled for that. And then finally, as like phase two of that website, we are working on a product line and we have custom ti furniture that is happening, and hopefully you guys will be seeing that at the end of this year. [01:02:13] Speaker A: Wow. That was a lot of news and very exciting. I am pumped to be able to purchase your custom furniture. Congratulations. [01:02:22] Speaker B: Those are huge. [01:02:23] Speaker A: You know, I have been itching to see these projects. I have been pinging you and pinging you about it. So just all great, wonderful, exciting things to come this year for you. Thank you so much for joining us. You have blown my mind and I'm just so grateful for your openness and your candor, because it's scary and these are the things that can feel really overwhelming to people, especially who veer on the creative, beautiful, sexy side of things. So thank you for making this sound feasible and possible and doable. [01:02:55] Speaker B: Thank you so much. This was so much fun and I just, I feel so honored to be on your podcast and hopefully I helped people. [01:03:03] Speaker A: Absolutely. I imagine people are very seriously taking notes, and we are working on a surprise for this season where all these notes are going to be provided right to you. So I'm excited to roll that out on Patreon this year. Thank you so much. I will talk to you very soon. Cheering you on. Love you so much. [01:03:19] Speaker B: Love you. Thank you. [01:03:28] Speaker A: For more in depth analysis of this interview, including exclusive downloads, examples, and more, don't forget to subscribe to the interior collective on Patreon. We are building an amazing private community of interior designers and industry experts open to candid conversations and answering questions. Join us on Patreon in the show notes [email protected] the interiorcollective thank you so, so much for tuning into this episode. Producing this show has truly been the honor of my career and I cannot believe I get to have these conversations. A big, huge thank you to our production team at IDCo Studio and Quinn made as well as this season's presenting sponsor, Ansax. Your contribution literally makes this podcast feasible and the biggest thank you to you, our listeners. Your sweet notes, DM's and reviews mean so much to us as we work to keep our show free and always accessible. Until next time, I'm Anastasia Casey and this is the interior Collective, a podcast for the business of beautiful living.

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