Assertiveness for women on renovation & construction sites

My Home Renovation

Bitch or backbone?

These questions have been on my mind recently:

  • Why does my heart rate peak when entering a negotiation with my builder or tradie?
  • How come I still feel inadequate with all of my technical experience?
  • When will the sweaty palms give it a break when I have say ‘no’ to someone … or even a ‘ that’s just not good enough’?

Geez, I hope I’m not alone in confessing this inadequacy so fully or I will feel a right dill.

In my recent post in The Block Handbook I discussed my admiration for and respect of Dee Jolly.

She’s assertive as hell, and as I commence the build of my own home and a property investment renovation in 2015, I know I’ll need that trait in spades with all of my projects.

If you’re a woman and you take on a new home construction project, or perhaps a property renovation for investment purposes, you’ll be thrust into a male dominant environment.  Everyone, from your technical and planning experts, through to your builders, subcontractors and suppliers, will likely be male.

You need to put on your boss lady pants. This means you’ll have to be able to:

  • Assert your home renovation ideas in conversation and planning
  • Act as frontline manager when delays and mistakes occur
  • Maintain standards of site safety and behaviours
  • Hold trades accountable for the quality of their workmanship
  • Negotiate the best deals you can and deal with requests for variations (to budgets, timeframes and scopes of works)
  • Deal with being dismissed, disrespected or diminished

And here’s the kicker – see you if can do all of the above without being labelled as pushy, aggressive, or worse, a bitch.

I’ll take organised, coordinated, and technically proficient, thank you very much.

I know these are the worst case scenarios. Not all males are like this. I know that even amongst my family, my existing work colleagues, and my husband’s friends, there are a heap of nice and respectful male tradies. The thing is, even if they are nice, my hands still sweat if I have to do anything remotely confrontational, or even just disappoint someone.

More on developing assertiveness skills for women on construction and renovation work sites can be found here.

About Suzanne Commerford

Suzanne has stepped out from behind the desk of Australia's largest home inspection business to build the skills, confidence and independence of women to tackle maintenance and home improvement projects around the home.

One Comment

  • Amanda says:

    Its not just the renovation area where you swerve between backbone and bitch. I found as a treasurer smashing the cash economy of my children’s P&C Associations it wasn’t much different.

Leave a Reply