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builder leaning against a rustic wall

While reading about natural building materials the other day, I came across an article about women builders. Nine creative women around the world have built homes out of earth, stone, straw and timber, and one, Carole Crews, lives here in my community. Inspired by the visions these women have, and being a builder myself, I thought about the reasons to hire a woman to design, build or remodel a home.

Design skills

Women make more than 75% of the purchasing decisions in the average household. And whereas men may live in a house, women LIVE in it. Because they are generally the main housekeepers and caregivers, their input is crucial for an efficient and aesthetically pleasing design.

Who better to relate to a woman homeowner than another woman? Women designers consider an entire family, not just square footage, when designing. They know what adults, children and even pets are going to be doing in a home and where. Not only do they think of traffic flow and not wasting space, they design with family friendly surfaces and finishes. Women understand homes are not One Size Fits All.

Understanding the angles beyond the measurements

As a real estate agent, I saw plenty of houses that were clearly designed by men. I’d have job security as a space planner with any number of architects, because they sure needed a woman on their team.

One house I listed and sold had the kitchen placed against a south facing wall of glass. Cooking in winter is probably a hot and blinding experience. Never mind the grease that must collect on the windows. Also, the winter sun landed right on the refrigerator, heating it up. Who thought that up? A man. The kitchen should have been on the north side with a warm living area on the sunny south side.

Another house I listed had the master bedroom door right off the living area. The tiny guest room down the hall had more privacy. Yet another home had a hallway leading from the garage to the kitchen, passing a spare bedroom and bathroom. Since people (mostly women) haul groceries from the car to the kitchen, these two areas need to be in close proximity. These were not women-designed homes.

People skills

winking builder jigsaw drill.Building new or remodeling is a very emotional experience, and it places a lot of stress on marriages and families. Women architects and contractors are better equipped to deal with those emotions. They build relationships with their clients, then draw on their natural patience and empathy to pull couples through to the end.

Women are natural managers. They are practical, multi-tasking, detail-oriented problem solvers. They are also flexible, sensitive and intuitive. These are qualities needed to complete a project that involves a large group of people (families, subcontractors, suppliers, etc). It sounds like motherhood, too!

Women in the industry

I love to see women in construction. I am inspired that they don’t mind hard, physical work, and that their creative energy is put into large, complicated, tangible projects. They are also willing to face the challenges a male dominated industry presents.

Although most contractors and architects are men, you can see there are many benefits to hiring a woman. Our numbers were increasing until the economy crashed in about 2008. Today, there is not a large percentage of women builders, but the ones that have survived are successful.

More demand

Consumers need to create demand for women contractors, designers, architects and subcontractors. With demand, more training, apprenticeship, and job placement programs will be created. Jobs will be created!

There may be an organization or council in your state that lists women in the industry. Use those resources! If you cannot find a woman to hire, find a firm that has an array of women designers. You can tell the difference when you look at portfolios. Be sure your needs are being met, and that you are not getting a One Size Fits All home. Hire a woman!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.