How Mika Kleinschmidt uses Adobe Acrobat to help clients build dream homes in 100 days
Everyone dreams of living in a custom home tailored to their tastes. But building a new house from the ground up comes with a lot more challenges and decisions than people expect. That’s where Mika Kleinschmidt comes in. The Tampa-based realtor and designer teams up with her husband, developer Brian Kleinschmidt, to develop the perfect home for clients. On their HGTV show 100 Day Dream Home, they show off their skills by completing this complex task in just 100 days.
“The most important thing when working on a new home is communication,” says Kleinschmidt. “There are so many decisions that need to be made, and often homeowners need to finalize each step before developers can move on to the next one. I pride myself on being very responsive so that we can keep construction moving and get clients into their ideal home.”
Building a dream business
Kleinschmidt wasn’t always a real estate superstar. She spent a decade working in the fitness industry before she and her husband decided that they needed a completely new challenge in life.
“There’s actually a lot of overlap between fitness and real estate,” explains Kleinschmidt. “It’s all about helping clients achieve their dreams. And in both cases, it can take a lot of patience and hard work before we achieve the results we’re looking for.”
As Kleinschmidt focused on her new career path, she discovered a passion for new construction. “Brian and I do other types of work, but new construction is the most fun for me,” says Kleinschmidt. “We really get to work closely with clients to adjust the design, pick out all of the finishes, and create a house that they love. But since there’s so many possibilities, it can get overwhelming. Part of my job is to make it less stressful for clients.”
Through their business, Dirt 2 Design, the Kleinschmidts and their small team of realtors, designers, and project coordinators work closely with home buyers, contractors, and vendors to bring a build to life as seamlessly as possible. One of the ways that the team speeds up communications is by standardizing on Adobe Acrobat — for everything from client invoices and proposals for contractors to sharing design inspiration and mood boards.
“When I first started working in real estate, I always hated paperwork,” says Kleinschmidt. “I set aside two days a week just to lock myself in my office to take care of administrative work. It definitely wasn’t fun and felt like a big waste of time. With Acrobat, I can hop on my phone and take care of paperwork wherever and whenever — whether I’m visiting build sites or browsing a vendor’s stock. I can give clients the attention that they need right away, without waiting for a meeting or administrative day.”
Communicating visual design elements
One of the things that Kleinschmidt loves about working with Acrobat is how it allows her to communicate designs more effectively with clients. She can add content in any format — floor plan renderings, written outlines, suggested color palettes, and inspirational photos — to a single PDF file.
“I used to email clients my ideas, then add individual attachments for all of the visuals, but it was never as effective,” says Kleinschmidt. “People would need to flip between apps to understand what I’m describing. Now they can open one file and see where I’ve written notes right on an image, which helps them picture my ideas about cabinetry or colors.”
Clients can respond in the same way, circling specific areas in the PDF that they want to change in a floor plan and adding comments to share their other ideas. Previously Kleinschmidt would hold multiple two-hour meetings with clients to discuss plans and follow up on revisions. Now clients review plans at their leisure and send comments that Kleinschmidt and her team can start working on right away, reducing the number of in-person meetings needed to bring a project over the finish line.
“Any time you can save two hours in meetings, that’s huge for construction,” says Kleinschmidt. “That’s time spent moving forward and reducing delays down the line.”
A strong foundation for service
Kleinschmidt and the rest of the Dirt 2 Design team are busier than ever these days. The team is even moving beyond residential designs. Ahead of the season four premiere of 100 Day Dream Home, HGTV viewers can watch the Kleinschmidts design a dream beachfront hotel in a two-episode special.
“I might be working on 15 dream homes at the same time. That’s a lot of information to keep track of,” says Kleinschmidt. “Thankfully Acrobat keeps me organized. I can open up one file to remind myself — and my clients — about all the decisions we’ve made on a dream house.”
When clients want to adjust designs, Kleinschmidt asks them to sign off on the change order. Not only does this provide a clear record that clients agree to changes and fees, but signing is fast and easy through Acrobat for her and her clients. This means that Kleinschmidt and her team can start moving on the new design faster.
“A home is one of the biggest investments that anyone will make,” says Kleinschmidt. “It’s a huge decision, and it’s important to make sure that clients feel comfortable at every step. Acrobat allows me to stay connected, be a part of my clients’ conversations, and give them 100%.”