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Home Build prep guide



Before You Build (How I Help YOU!)

Published on:


written by:

Carrie Barker


In this episode/post, I’m sharing some feedback I recently received from a client that really got me thinking. I had a quick initial thought of ‘that sucks’ and then I realized there was some truth in what she said … but there’s so much more to it. Listen to the episode or read the transcript below to hear what she said and to find out exactly how my ‘zone of genius’ helps YOU before you build your dream home :).


Below is a near-verbatim transcript of this podcast episode. I changed the wording just a bit.

Welcome to the ‘Before You Build’ Podcast. I’m your host, Carrie Barker, aka Caroline on Design. And this is another one of those podcast episodes that I am just free talking.

I don’t have a script. I don’t even have an outline. I just have something that I want to talk about … something that I read yesterday.

Actually, it wasn’t just something I read. It was a review of my signature program called the ‘Before You Build’ Program (a.k.a. BYB Program). It’s a group coaching program and I help women who are preparing to build their dream homes.

My signature ‘Before You Build’ Program, which is a home build prep program, has evolved over the years. I’ve been running this program for three years, and when I first started it in May of 2020, during the pandemic, it was a low-cost monthly membership program. It didn’t have everything that it has now.

It did have the Zoom calls and it had the Facebook community. It also had an older version of the coursework which includes the BYB Method that walks you through how to prepare for a successful home build. And when I say ‘successful’, I mean building a home that you love and that is close to your budget.

The Not-So-Fun Feedback (+ My Response)

So the BYB Program has evolved over the years, and now it’s a more robust program. I still have members who are paying monthly who joined one year ago, two years ago, or three years ago, and when they decide to cancel their membership, I have them fill out a survey about what they found helpful with the program, what they didn’t like, all that.

(Side note, it’s no longer a monthly membership program … you pay one time and you’re in for twelve months.)

Usually, the feedback is really good and really helpful. There’s constructive criticism, which is super helpful to me because that’s how I’ve evolved the BYB Program over the years.

But yesterday I decided to see what the most recent clients who have canceled said in their survey. And one thing stuck out to me. And of course, it’s just human nature. It’s like you can hear all these great things and then the one thing that is a little bit negative, you’re like, what? And that’s all I can focus on.

So what this person said was, I’m going to pull it up so I can tell you exactly what she said, which by the way this woman was in the BYB Program for 33 months, so she didn’t hate the program that much. She paid monthly for 33 months, and she actually had a lot of nice things to say, too.

One of the questions on the survey is: ‘What did you find to be the least helpful aspect of the program?

And this previous client said, ‘Please don’t take this personally … you’re a lovely person, and I think it’s great you put this group together, but I didn’t find your level of expertise helpful.’

That’s what stuck out to me.

I have had hundreds of people go through this program, and as I said, I’ve had constructive criticism, but I’ve had a lot of really nice things that people say about how the program has helped them with their home build and building their dream home. But anyway, this stuck out to me. She said ‘I didn’t find your level of expertise helpful’.

At first, I thought, well, that sucks. That hurts. But literally, within maybe one or two minutes, I was like, okay, let’s just look at this for what it is. Let’s not focus on the negative. Let’s figure out what I can do differently to show my level of expertise.


As I said, this woman was in it for 33 months. I think she joined the very first time I even launched the program, so May of 2020. And when I launched it, it was a different program.

At the time, I knew I wanted to work with women who were preparing to build a home, but I thought I could help women throughout their home-build process. Whenever they have a question, they can come to me. So I kind of positioned the BYB Program that way, which at the time I thought that’s how it was.

But then I realized people ask incredibly specific questions that I have no idea what the answer is. They might say, okay, between this brand of Windows and this brand, which is more expensive and which is more energy efficient? I don’t know!

There are millions of products out there when you’re building a home. I do not have experience with every single product and every single paint color!

I am definitely not an expert in ALL home build materials. But what I do know is I can point the person to who they need to talk to. At first, you talk to your builder, and if you can’t get an answer there, then you actually go to the expert that’s an expert in that particular thing.

If you have a question about windows, for example, you go to the window retailer and there are experts there that all they do is talk about windows and they know everything there is about windows or the same thing with HVAC and flooring or cabinets, whatever. You go to the expert.


I’m not an expert in every single material that goes into a house. But what I did realize is where my zone of genius comes into play is that I can help people CLARIFY THEIR VISION.

Everything about my ‘Before You Build’ home build prep program is focused on things that you do BEFORE you ever even think about breaking ground on your home. And that’s where my passion lies.

My passion lies in helping women really, truly, fully consider how they envision their future home and how they can create a home that is perfect for their family for everyday living as well as for having friends and family gather for the holidays.

The ‘Before You Build’ Program

So what I focus on inside the ‘Before You Build’ Program is helping my clients get all of their thoughts and ideas out of their heads and onto paper (or onto the computer). I help them truly consider and clarify their vision. And clarifying their vision leads to all the other components that are part of the ‘Before You Build’ Method.

If you don’t know your vision, it’s hard to create a floor plan. I don’t help you create your floor plan but I give you the tools you need to really think about the perfect floor plan for your family. So when you do go to your builder or your architect or your drafts person, you are far ahead. You have all this stuff already worked out. You already know how you envision the perfect layout for your family.

Same thing with creating a realistic budget. That’s another thing that’s part of the ‘Before You Build’ Method. You can’t create a realistic budget if you don’t have a complete picture of how you want your house to look when it’s done.

So back to that comment about my expertise level.

What I’ve realized is that I was positioning myself as the BYB Program ‘coach’ who could do everything, which is so not true! But what I CAN do is I can point people in the right direction. If you have a question and I don’t have the answer, I always have an answer of where you can go to get the answer.

Here’s the thing … I’m not afraid to say, ‘I don’t know the answer to that’ because when people ask really specific questions about specific design materials, I don’t always have an answer.

And actually, there are a lot of very specific questions that I don’t have an answer to, but I can always point people in the right direction and give you your next step (i.e. who to talk to).


I’m not an expert in everything home-building. I will fully 100% admit that. But what I can do is walk people through clarifying their vision in crystal clear detail. And honestly, that is the absolute foundation for building a home that you absolutely love.

Clarifying your vision is the foundation for building a home that you don’t get to the end and think, ‘I wish I did this differently or I wish you did this differently.’

Clarifying your vision is the foundation for staying close to budget (or at least staying closer to budget).

That (i.e. helping clients clarify their vision) is where my expertise lies. Again, I’m maybe not an expert, but I do feel very confident in my ability to walk people through the ‘clarifying your vision’ process. And that is at the absolute heart of building your dream home and staying close to budget.

I’m fully confident that the second module (i.e. Clarifying Your Vision) inside the BYB Program is an absolute game changer when it comes to bringing your dream home to life.

So I am not going to let one little comment that says ‘my expertise is not helpful’ bother me because it’s all relative. I know what I can do, and I know how I can help YOU!

I know how I’ve helped hundreds of people before you. So that is my free talk for today.

If you’re dreaming about building a home, definitely check out my ‘Before You Build’ Program because this program might be exactly what you’re looking for to help you prepare for a successful home build :).

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I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

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