By Nicky Gibbs [email protected]
Nicky Gibbs, together with her husband Richard, created RIMINI Projects. They offer a bespoke project management service for property owners in the UK and across the Algarve.
We all know that construction is a male-dominated place, yet women play the major role in up to 90 per cent of home purchases and decisions about the home.
We tend to make the decisions on how a family lives in the home – how we like it laid out, décor, furniture and the outside space. More importantly, we also make those decisions differently. Women tend to pick up on the details and nuances more than men, and look for form and function, as well as aesthetics and practicality in home design.
But despite all this, it’s often not easy for women to ensure their thoughts and views are heard and taken into account – and I’m not talking about partners here, but the construction professionals and contractors – here in Portugal when it comes to building a new home, or even remodelling an existing one.
There are obviously cultural differences between Portugal and other countries. Men and women in Portugal don’t necessarily have the same decision-making roles that Northern Europeans do and this can be reflected in the way that male building professionals respond to women when they try to give their input about a building project.
However, regardless of how little women may know about building, we should be confident about our views and thoughts on how to live in a home – that a good home is not just about its form or design, but its functionality and practicality; something that women know more than a little about!
So, how best can women ensure that their influence is felt? Well, I would recommend spending some time formalising your thoughts on paper under the following headings, which in my experience, are the four lenses through which women look at home design for how a home lives:
1. Entertaining – where (inside/outside) and how often? Is a children’s playroom appropriate? Will you have regular guests to stay?
2. Relaxing/de-stressing – where and how do you and your partner like to relax? You may relax quite differently to each other.
3. Storage – what will you want to store? Consider what you have in your main home to guide you.
4. Flexible living – separate rooms, open plan or a combination of the two? Are there any rooms with a dual purpose?
This should help you clarify how you and your family live and therefore what you want from a home. Use this briefing to inform your Project Manager so that they are clear about your views and thoughts. They can in turn ensure that the rest of the project team meets your wishes. That’s the easy bit!
Let the technical team make sure the building complies with regulations – that’s their job!
Unfortunately, it’s sometimes not enough to brief at the start of the project. It’s almost inevitable that something will change in the course of the building work, and you may not be consulted even if it’s something you specifically requested.
To make certain that changes are either avoided, or made to suit you, ask the Project Manager to include in the contract with the builder for changes to be agreed with you first: something that should be standard but will refer to the client in generic terms.
Obviously, your involvement in the project should be whatever you want it to be. But, if circumstances don’t permit you to get involved, or you’d just rather someone else take all the strain, then consider a female Project Manager. While your builders will almost certainly be male, your Project Manager definitely doesn’t have to be!