Experience teaches us that nothing in life is truly linear. Our careers, goals, and plans are subject to change as more information comes in. Our path forward is very rarely as simple and straightforward as we first think. Taking your building idea from conception to completion is no different. With the right mind-set, methods, and team players, you can create three things: 


An enjoyable experience 

A delightful outcome 

Many shared memories with those involved in helping you 

The actual construction of your project represents just the final phase of getting what you want.


This is more about HOW than about WHAT. How will the building process unfold for you? As the fictional characters depicted next illustrate, your mindset, your communication, and your hiring choices can dramatically affect the experience you will have. Most people fall somewhere WELL between these extreme examples – approaches which are so out of balance, they become risky. On one side, we see someone who has very strong discipline, logic, and order, but lacks self-awareness, empathy, and people skills. 

On the other side, we see someone who has a positive, glass-half-full outlook, ability to take action, and good relationship skills, but lacks patience for thinking things through and takes unnecessary risks.

Perfectionist Paul

Perfectionist Paul Paul loved order, structure, and predictability. Every day began at 6:05 with same morning routine, in the same sequence, with the same breakfast—day after day, year after year, rain or shine. So you can imagine his wife Teresa’s surprise one day when he expressed his interest in selling their current home to build a new home. Over the years, Scott had worn her out with his agonizingly in-depth decision-making process. Paul began his research. 

A year later, with three orderly binders full of information, he felt knowledgeable enough to handle any decisions.

At that point, Paul began to interview real estate agents. Ten potential agents later, with the help of a complex spreadsheet, Paul selected an agent. The search for the perfect property was on! During this time, Paul began building his spreadsheet for architects, and another spreadsheet for builders.

Six years later: Paul still works at the same company. His days still begin at precisely 6:05. But things have not gone according to plan with his building journey. In spite of many detailed emails, things have fallen apart. Teresa is considering a divorce. Paul could not really understand why. Sure, he had fired two general contractors. And there were the ensuing lawsuits, resulting in a long and expensive building process. But it had been a matter of principle! In retrospect, Paul ended up wondering whether he would have been better off simply stopping after producing the perfect set of building plans. The enjoyment would have been quite similar to the predictability of building a model airplane — no crazy, incompetent people to deal with. 

Maverick Max:

“Honey, do you have time to check out the property I just bought?” Max wanted to show his wife this newly purchased gem ASAP. But Janice wasn’t pleased with this surprise. She had lost track of all the impulsive decisions Max had made since they had been together. By this time, Max had their new home half-built in his head. He had already called a few friends in the building trades. One was a general contractor, and had already agreed to help out. After viewing the property, Janice had to agree that Max’s purchase wasn’t so bad. They had always talked about living on a place exactly like this. She was warming to Max’s enthusiasm. But she wondered whether they could really swing the finances, and said as much. 


Max begin to talk even faster: “sweat equity . . . more overtime . . . trade labor . . . big savings . . .” Janice’s sense of caution began to fade under Max’s passionate onslaught. 


One year later: Max’s physical therapy is almost done. Two more weeks and he will be back at work.

That’s good – money is tight, and Janice is looking pretty tired these days. Once Max is working again, she can cut her hours. Since he had the accident working on their home, Max has done most of the housework and shopping. But his attention to detail never did amount to much. Money is a stress. Cost projections for the building project had never really gone beyond Max’s initial “napkin” budget. Upgrades had been hard to resist. After the accident, Max’s buddy finished the house for them, leaving Max owing labor in the future for the work.

He sold the home for enough to cover his expenses with 356 bucks left over. Not what you would call a king’s ransom, but better than owing money! And they had a hefty medical bill they were paying on. But once he was working again, that monthly payment would be easily manageable. 

In spite of the loss of their partially-built home, Max felt happier than he had in a long time. He had learned a few things about himself. He had gotten much closer to Janice and their friends. In addition, it was amazing how many new friends they had made during the building process itself! In Max’s mind, things turned out okay. It had been fun, they made friends, and they had good memories overall. 

How Do You Roll? 


The ideal process for you will most likely strike a balance between these two extremes. 

Are you more data-driven? 

Or does instinct play a bigger role for you? 

Do you get upset when a carefully laid out plan is not executed perfectly?

Can you make the most out of more surprises due to lackadaisical planning and communication? 

How about your dealings with people? 

Do you sometimes get taken advantage of because of your trusting nature? 

Do you prefer to keep honest people honest with clear, concise contracts? 


Knowing your tendencies gives you some power to influence the outcome of your building project. To gain maximum influence, you will need a “flight plan” and the help of the team players you hire. In the next issue, you will get tips and tricks we have observed over the years which can give you some guidance to hire right for YOU. Because you are unique. The mind-set, methods, and team which are right for you might not work for someone else. Each client we work with has individual needs and personalities. But each one also deserves a pain-free building experience. 

That’s why we guarantee our process here at ATF. To Your Goals, Momentum and Happiness,