January 29, 2018

40 Misconceptions – Client Edition

For almost a year, Sebastian’s president John Sebastian and his team have been sharing their insights on the business of planning, designing and building high end residences.

Today, we’re spotlighting two client-based misconceptions, with advice on how to avoid them.

While some architects prefer to create their designs solo until the big reveal, we’ve found that the most successful projects are those that engage the client along each phase of the process. Clients are better informed and therefore, feel stronger ownership and commitment to the final product.

In Sebastian’s State of High End Residential Real Estate in 2018, we surveyed architects to get a feel for their clients’ level of involvement.

While almost 30% of clients have limited time to be involved, the majority actually enjoy the process and make it a priority to participate.

Misconception #8 can cause project delays and issues when the architect doesn’t take a leadership role in the project. It’s usually not the client’s fault – he or she is often unaware of the impact their decisions (or lack of decisions) have on the project’s schedule and budget. It’s up to the architect to keep the client informed, especially when decisions are needed to keep the project moving.

As the architect, you may feel that you are keeping the client happy when you make requested changes that delay the project, but going over budget and beyond the project schedule will cause ill feelings at the end that can’t be undone. Letting clients know the ramifications of decisions and changes gives them vital information to contribute to the best project outcome.

At Sebastian, we use a specific agenda format with time sensitive “hot items” clearly indicated to keep projects on schedule. Our project managers and field superintendents never leave a meeting without each action item having a person who’s responsible for that item and a deadline for completion.


December 25, 2017

Holiday Wishes

At this special time of year, we give thanks for clients and partners like you who have made our jobs easier and our lives more fulfilling.

May peace and plenty be the first,

To lift the latch on your door,

And happiness be guided to your home,

By the candle of Christmas.


November 20, 2017


As we ponder the precious lessons we learned this year, we also look back at the wonderful memories and good people who were part of our lives.

At Sebastian, we have a list of core values that govern how we operate. One of those is particularly focused on our relationships with the people who team with us to build beautiful, high quality homes:

Build each project with the goal of developing lifetime relationships with the client, the architect and the rest of the team. We recognize that these relationships have been and will be reason for our continued success.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, laughter and remembrances of good times. Happy Thanksgiving!


November 13, 2017

Three luxury construction pitfalls (and how to avoid them)

In the process of building luxury estate homes for the last 70 years, we’ve learned a few valuable lessons. We’ve been sharing those lessons through presentations that we’ve delivered to professional organizations and companies.

Here are three Misconceptions in the Planning of High End Residences that can plague residential construction projects. But there’s good news – they can all be avoided through strong leadership and firm project management.

Misconception 1

Misconception: “The design process is an organic thing that evolves uniquely for each project; you simply can’t schedule it and we sure can’t predict when construction can start.”

The Reality: It is a healthy thing for a project to have target dates for every phase in the project’s planning and development – including an actual commencement of construction date.

It keeps a client excited knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Having deadlines makes it real!

And if it gets delayed because of the client, it is important that they understand how their actions have affected the timeline.

Misconception 2

Misconception: “Some clients just cannot visualize what the design will actually look like, making it inevitable that you’ll have to tear out some completed work.”

The Reality: Do whatever it takes to make sure the client understands that they are getting by using 3D modeling, physical models, mock-ups, renderings, etc. All of these tools are going to much less costly than tearing out completed work.

Misconception 3

Misconception: “Our clients recognize when their actions (or lack of action) causes delays in the construction schedule.”

The Reality: The most emotional and contentious discussion you’ll have with the client is when you have to tell them that they caused a delay in their project’s schedule. They will not believe that they were at fault.

Prevent this uncomfortable conversation with “Hot Lists” that define the information and actions needed to keep the project on schedule. The Contractor should distribute this list weekly, with responsible party clearly noted. As professionals, we should all be accountable.