STOP BEING A BAD CLIENT! 3 Steps to Prepare Yourself for a Home Construction Project.

construction process design Apr 22, 2022

Hello and welcome to the Design Your Dream Home blog with me, Britney Johnson, your host and interior design expert, the founder of B Design and creator of the Design YOUR Dream Home online course.  

I have been talking a lot about our journey as homeowners and people striving to live our best lives.  The strategies we have personally used to get ourselves here, the struggles and decisions involved with making a big move, what it’s like to get yourself settled in a brand new place and the adventures we have had along the way.  

Now I am ready to start talking business again.  Let’s get back to interior design!  Yes, I am so ready.  I have the brain space again and I love what I do.  

Since relocating, I have met a great general contractor that I enjoy working with. He handles a lot of the project work and brings me in when things need a little more creativity or design - which is exactly what I want to do and what I am best at.  That kind of puts me on the outside of some of the projects which has given me a new view and something I feel I must talk about.


I have been to multiple potential meetings and even kickoff meetings where contracts are signed, money is down and the project still falls through because the client cannot make up their mind and/or had no idea what they wanted before jumping into a (larger than they realized) project.  

Let me preface this rant with a note - the construction industry is nuts right now, there are not enough homes to fill demand, not enough materials to build the homes that are needed and not enough labor to do the jobs.  If you have crews at your house and materials to use, consider yourself lucky!   

Yet, with all these issues, UNPREPARED CLIENTS are still the number one reason projects go long, over budget or just never get off the ground.   

For example, I had a meeting with a potential client 6 weeks ago.  In that meeting they danced around all sorts of options that they would like to see changed.  I could already tell this was going to be an issue because every time I asked to clarify which priorities were most important, I got a different answer.  The floor, the kitchen, the closet, etc.  

And then of course when we talk about the timeline - they want the work to start tomorrow.  But they don’t even really know what they want to do!  

They are also very wary of contractors and construction because they have been taken advantage of before - at the same time they are rushing us, wanting to knock down walls before budgets have been established or contracts have been signed.  That’s exactly how you get taken advantage of, or spend more than you expected, or have no kitchen for six months while you take the time to think about the things you should have thought about before you rushed in. 

Ultimately the client got overwhelmed with options, costs and timeline.  Was I surprised?  Not at all.  They had so many ideas and dreams that didn’t revolve around actual needs and wants - they did not commit the time upfront figuring out what they actually needed.  They spent money that could have gone towards their project to realize that they didn’t know what they wanted.  We helped them focus their vision and realign their priorities but ultimately it was a waste of the team’s time.  We could have been moving a real project forward that was ready to succeed.  

I am sure you have met people like this.  Someone who’s incredibly talented but afraid of success.  People who continually make choices that keep them stuck in an unhappy situation?  It’s infuriating.  Don’t come to me until you are ready to create your dream space!  Because I am ready to make it happen!

Partially this is our fault, people in the construction industry, because we have not established a clear order of operations, or critical path in construction lingo, for homeowners to approach a home construction project.  Things you need to do BEFORE coming to the design table or construction site.

I am going to save us all and give you one!  I can guarantee, if you follow these steps, your next home construction project will have a much higher chance of success AND after all that hard work and patience, you’ll end up with a home you actually love!


  • Establish your core wants and needs.  Think about what you need to live your best life.  How you like to move through your day, goals your space needs to accomplish for you and how you want to feel in your home.  
  • You don’t need solutions, that is what your team is for, but you do need clear problems for them to solve.  I can’t give you an answer if you don’t know the question.


  • Think about your authentic style.  It doesn’t come from a design magazine or parade of homes.  Only you can design your dream home.  Look at the colors you surround yourself with, the fabrics you like to wear, how you organize yourself, what makes you feel happy and at home - that’s your authentic style.  
  • My ultimate goal is for people who know you to enter and exclaim ‘oh wow, this place is so you’ and in the most beautiful way.  Your home should be undeniably you!


  • Start searching for a team that can solve your problems and is comfortable with your style and priorities.  Let them guide you the rest of the way.
  • Who you need on your team is up to you - architect, interior designer, design build contractor, general contractor, etc.  It depends on how much help you want, how much work you are willing to do yourself and how confident you are in your design direction.

That seems simple and it really can be that easy but each of those phases takes time and work that you need to do internally.  It can be hard for some people to honestly evaluate what they need in life, it’s sad but not many people afford themselves the time to think about what makes them happy and so this is foreign territory.  TAKE THE TIME!  Throwing money at a problem does not necessarily solve it.  Sometimes the best solution is cheap and easy, you just need to actually think about it.

Thinking about your authentic style and what matters to you helps frame the type of team you assemble and keeps you steady through the rollercoaster of emotions that is material selection and the construction process.  When you know what you want you have a much better chance of finding the team that can easily make it happen.  If your priorities are a sustainable, smart home a design firm or construction company that specializes in sustainable design is going to offer better solutions than someone who specializes in traditionally built log cabins.  If you are trying to ‘age in place’ then hire people who specialize in retirement communities and accessible design, not that trendy minimalist team downtown.  A remodeling contractor has different skills, experiences, and subcontractors from a new construction contractor.  In a world full of niches, there is someone for everyone, hire the team that is right for you and your project and everything will flow smoother.

Building and remodeling a home is hard!  Do not expect it to be otherwise.  It will hopefully be awesome and worth it but I can say without a doubt IT WILL NOT BE EASY.  I don’t say that to scare people but to set realistic expectations of the construction process.  You are entering into a process that will consume your life for a while, make sure you are prepared!  It’s like climbing a mountain, you don’t just decide to do it one day.  You prepare yourself, set a specific goal, hire the right team to guide you and give yourself time to attack the challenge.  Any home project, especially a big one, is that mountain.  Prepare yourself, know why you are doing this, the problems you want to solve, set realistic expectations, hire the right team to guide you and climb that mountain.  

I am going to toot my own horn a little here.  I have always felt like the sherpa of interior design.  Toot!  Toot!  Helping one client at a time, guiding them through the roller coaster of emotions that is the interior design and construction process, giving them the steps to be successful and holding space for their unique vision.  That’s what Design YOUR Dream Home does, online and at your own pace.  It prepares you to climb that mountain on your own.  It asks the questions you need to have answers to and arms you with the knowledge you need to feel confident and in charge of your next home construction project.  

In summary, spend the time thinking about you and your project.  How you want to spend your life and what about your space is holding you back.  Then find the team that specializes in solving that problem.  Design YOUR Dream Home.  Love your life.

For more information about the online course, Design YOUR Dream Home and setting yourself up for success on your next home building project check out  Sign up for my FREE masterclass 3 Mindset Shifts for a Smoother Build and More Authentic Home.  If you do nothing else, watch this 1 hour video and wrap your mind around a successful project!

Don't miss a thing!

Discussions, deep dives and interior design advice delivered to your inbox. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.