Recent Stories

June 5, 2017

3 keys to successful luxury estate projects

Sebastian team members have been on a speaking tour recently, presenting our 40 Misconceptions in the Planning of High End Residences to audiences of architects, designers and subconsultants.

The presentation breaks down 40 of the most common misconceptions in the luxury residential building industry. Sebastian’s been in the business of building luxury homes for nearly 70 years. During that time, John Sebastian and his team of professionals have honed the process of building premier estates. Along the way, they’ve noticed some assumptions and common practices that slow projects and negatively impact the results.

Here’s a sneak peek at one of the misconceptions, how it impacts the construction process and what to do instead.

Client/Owner Relations

Misconception: 

“You just can’t manage the client. They are simply going to do what they are going to do.”

Our 70 years experience begs to differ. Clients actually want and need firm direction from their architect. The best architects are not just design geniuses, they also know how to develop trust with the client.

In 2015, the Royal Institute of British Architects published a report, “Client and Architect, developing the essential relationship.” Based on the findings of a two-year analysis of the relationship between clients and their architects, the report contains insights gleaned from interviews with 500 clients.

A couple of the key findings:

“Good communication skills breed trust, reduce perceived risk and boost repeat business.”

“Good communication involves keeping the client ahead of the game.”

We definitely agree. From our decades of experience, here are three practices that make projects successful:

1. Keep the client focused on what is critical, not what is fun.

Gazing at renderings and discussing innovative design touches feeds your creative drive and excites the client, but certain decisions are critical path items.

No decision, no progress.

A client wants and needs firm direction from their architect.  They expect the architect to “keep the wheels on the track”.

2.  Tell the truth and bring up issues, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Be honest in setting expectations, saying “no” when necessary and pushing for decisions. While it may feel awkward at first, the client will appreciate directness and straight talk.

3. Practice good meetings and project management with the client, too. 

A  clear agenda with high priority/scheduling-sensitive items should guide every meeting, whether it’s with contractors, subs or the client. While it can be tempting to spend client meetings brainstorming fun design details, it’s important to review the decisions made, and determine action items and responsible persons.

At Sebastian, we use a very structured meeting agenda and process, called Level 10 meetings. The meeting process is part of a larger management system we use called Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).

Using the structured process keeps the meetings short and productive and the project running smoothly. Project team members spend most of their time discussing potential issues and resolving them.

Recent Stories

April 10, 2017

Sebastian Construction Group, premier luxury builder, presents at ICAA

Recently, three Sebastian team members – Pre-Construction Manager Andy O’Nan, President John Sebastian and Director of Operations Matt Cain shared their insights on the Top 40 Misconceptions in the Planning of High End Residences.

The event was sponsored by the Texas Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA) and hosted at Sebastian’s Dallas headquarters. Attendees participated in a lively interactive talk, designed to help architects and contractors avoid the misconceptions that add costs, increase schedules and frustrate project participants.

Sebastian Construction Group and ICAA Texas "40 Misconceptions in the Construction of High End Residences"

Sebastian’s been in the business of building luxury homes for nearly 70 years. During that time, John Sebastian and his team of professionals have honed the process of building premier estates. Along the way, they’ve noticed some assumptions and common practices that slow projects and negatively impact the results.

Here’s a sneak peek at one of the 40 misconceptions that had a lot of the heads in the room nodding in agreement:

Sebastian Construction Group, luxury home builder, Texas

[Chart by Patrick MacLeamy, FAIA, CEO of HOK Architects.]

Traditional design workflow starts with architects creating beautiful designs for  homes, developing construction documents AND THEN engaging contractors, interior and landscape design professionals to execute the design. What’s the problem with that?

A lot, it turns out. Architecture, construction, engineering, landscape architecture and interior design are creative services – there are different ways to achieve the same result.

Andy O’Nan argues that the better approach to project planning is to bring the contractor and design professionals into the project as early as possible.

“Getting the team on board gets early alignment on the way the house will be built and prevents going backward later,” says O’Nan. “It also develops more accountability as a team to design to the client’s budget.”

Every project has unique characteristics that require careful planning and design. There are choices to be evaluated, whether its materials, site options, construction techniques, scheduling limitations or delivery of what an owner expects and needs.

By getting the design and construction team working together early in the process – with a budget – the team can develop a cost model prior to starting design and then design to the cost model. This allows the team to evaluate design alternatives and their construction impacts, while keeping the owner’s wish list and budget on track.

The result? Happy team members AND happy clients.

Sebastian Construction Group, Texas' Premier Luxury Builder

 

Recent Stories

February 6, 2017

All Hands On Deck

Sebastian is a company that takes its operations and its culture incredibly seriously. While some organizations just hope that their employees demonstrate behaviors and values that reflect well on the company, Sebastian makes it a priority.

From the way that new employees are vetted and hired, to how we work together, our company core values govern our behavior. Because we make our core values a focal point, we also work hard to recognize our employees and reinforce best practices.

Last week, Sebastian hosted its annual All Company meeting where we gather to reflect on the previous year, set our goals for the next year and recognize our team members for their contributions.

Here are a few photos of Sebastian team members being recognized:


Sixteen fine folks marked one year with Sebastian, commemorated with these handsome Sebastian jackets.


Director of Operations Matt Cain, Client Services Manager Jerry Nogalski and Project Superintendent Steve Janicki display their gorgeous Tiffany crystal awards, to celebrate their ten years of service with Sebastian Construction Group.

Core Values

At Sebastian, we have 15 company core values that we’ve crafted over our sixty years of building the finest luxury estate homes. They cover how we work together, how we work with our clients and partners, as well as the legacy we want to leave.

This year, we gave the first ever Sebastian Core Values award to two team members who embody the best of Sebastian, every day:

Construction Coordinator, Greg Lewis. Greg is Sebastian’s senior field operations person with over 35 years’ experience in construction (over 30 of those years with Sebastian.) He’s an expert in quality control and problem resolution.

Project Director, Len Lewis. Len began his career on large commercial construction projects, working as Field Superintendent for several complex, large-scale projects and then a Project Manager before becoming a Project Director.

Recent Stories

January 9, 2017

Second George Sebastian Scholarship Awarded

Sebastian Construction Group awarded its second George Sebastian Scholarship to Anna Nogalski, daughter of the company’s long-time Client Services Manager, Jerry Nogalski.

The scholarship was created to honor Sebastian Construction Group founder, George Sebastian, who started the company in 1948. Sebastian, who passed away in 1992, was widely known for his tenacious dedication to quality construction and integrity in his business dealings.

John Sebastian, son of George, awarded the first George Sebastian Scholarship in 2014, saying, “It’s our way of continuing his legacy.”

The scholarship is open to children of Sebastian employees with ten or more years of service. Recipients must be on the honor roll and have one or more significant extracurricular activities. The award amount is $5000 per year, for up to four years, as long as the recipient maintains a 3.00 or better GPA.

Anna Nogalski is a senior at Plano High School. After graduation, she will attend Oklahoma University, where she will major in biochemistry.