Emily Cox, a local interior architectural designer at Onyx Design Collaborative and leader of Building Badasses, has created a four-hour Construction 101 Crash Course seminar geared toward female homeowners interested in learning about construction.
The seminar introduces topics like construction contracts, how to read architectural drawings, construction communication best practices, explanations of typical design/construction team roles and more. It will also include a Q&A session during which participants can share construction plans and receive feedback and advice from Cox.
“The class teaches you that this isn’t neurosurgery, it’s just connecting two-by-fours. You can understand it, learn the vocabulary to communicate effectively and assess if it’s done properly,” she said. “It’s not another language — it’s just another set of terms.”
This presumed difference in familiarity with construction-related topics between men and women isn’t an inherent gender trait; it’s the result of deeply ingrained gender biases and an intergenerational gap in knowledge.
Women have made big strides in securing more rights over the last century, but don’t forget, it wasn’t until 1974 that a woman could receive a line of credit without a male co-signer. And it took another seven years before it became illegal for a husband to take out second mortgages on property jointly owned with his wife without her permission.
“It’s within living memory that women obtained these rights,” Cox said. “Never before have women owned and maintained property as we have the opportunity to in this generation, but we aren’t culturally conditioned to know how to interact with the construction industry.”
Cox’s seminar intends to give women the right tools to build confidence and knowledge before beginning a renovation or new building project.
The female experience of having something “mansplained” partially inspired the need for the seminar.
Mansplaining is a term used when a man explains, and often oversimplifies, a concept to a woman in a patronizing or condescending manner. It happens a lot, particularly when working in a male-dominated industry or participating in an activity society has deemed part of the male sphere — like visiting the auto part store, the mechanic or getting involved in construction.
The National Association of Realtors reported that single women made up the second largest group of homebuyers in 2020 at 17%, just behind married couples. So it’s important for female homeowners to have access to home improvement knowledge and the confidence to navigate the interviewing, hiring and assessment process.
Cox created Building Badasses, a group for women working in all aspects of the construction industry, as a way to network and share information and recommendations through a private Facebook group and monthly meetings. When the group wasn’t able to meet face-to-face during the pandemic, Cox started a Building Badasses podcast to keep members informed.
“The reception for Building Badasses has been so positive that we realized we could also do a really great job of serving the needs of female homeowners,” she said. “I think it’s an important opportunity to educate and empower women through teaching them how the construction industry works, so they can be educated consumers.”
Participants can attend the session in person at The Circle coworking space in North Charleston or join the class via Zoom. These one-day, four-hour sessions take place Aug. 28, Sept. 25 and Oct. 23. After the seminar, participants will have access to the Building Badasses Facebook group for continued support from other women in the industry.
Cox also said to be on the lookout for future course offerings including 60 Days to Dream Design.
If you’re interested in attending one of the seminars, the price is $249, but you can receive $50 off with the discount code: HAMMERITOUT.