Main Menu

How to become a successful builder: #1 Stay in Control

the-successful-builder-Master the Seven Habits of Highly Successful Builders #1 –Stay in Control

Successful Builders Master the Habit of Staying in Control

Someone stuffs up on the renovation building site and you explode? Right!  Hmmm. Does it help? “No. But it feels good.”

How about when your client is involved? Do they see you out of control?

Highly successful builders always stay in control. Wouldn’t that be a nice habit!

In this article I outline 4 attitudes that can help you to become a successful builder by keeping you in control.

1          How to become a successful builder: Reject the blame game.

It’s inevitable in renovating buildings that things go wrong. People stuff up. Arrive late. Send the wrong stuff. It’s then that it’s important to reject the blame game and not make excuses to your client or even worse claim no  responsibility! [Note: There is a place for apportioning due responsibility, but it’s not now.]

the-successful-builder-rejects the blame game

This simply raises the temperature of all concerned and adds pressure. It gains no sympathy from your customer. You see, apportioning blame does nothing to solve the immediate problem.

2          How to become a successful builder: Choose to be responsible.

Instead of losing her cool or looking for someone to blame the successful builder takes responsibility for the situation, and commits to finding a workable solution. Should she be responsible for the stuff up, she’ll accept responsibility and get on with fixing it. If a subbie is responsible she’ll deal directly with that subbie and call him to accountability to the agreement in place. If it’s a team member she’ll deal with it properly.

3          How to become a successful builder: Refuse victim mentality.

This really is the crux of the issue. The builder who shifts the blame to someone else makes himself a victim.

the-successful-builder-Master the Seven Habits of Highly Successful Builders #1 –Stay in Control

You see, a victim is someone forced to accept with another’s wishes or actions. So when a builder makes excuses or lays blame he is admitting defeat. That is assuming the attitude of a victim. Who wants a victim running their renovation project?

4          How to become a successful builder: Determine to Overcome

By refusing a victim mentality the builder is demonstrating he can fix the problem. He is not beaten by a sloppy subbie or supplier. Instead he takes action – immediate and long term. Immediate? Solving the situation. Longer-term? Changing the processes that created the problem in the first place. Does he need to clarify expectations? Does he need to improve selection processes? Does he need to modify systems? By doing this he is demonstrates that situations do NOT control him. Rather, he is in control. This is the kind of builder I want on my building project.


The new carpenter spends two days erecting and lining walls without the required bracing. The site supervisor chooses not to vent his anger, but to calmly issue instructions to fix the problem. Later, he reviews the new team member’s CV and discovers he is from out-of-town, from a region with low risk of storms or earthquakes, where local requirements are different. This was overlooked in the hiring process. As a result the hiring process was modified.


How do you respond to stuff-ups on site?

I’d love to hear your stories.

Post your stories/comments below


View more in the “How To Become A Successful Builder” series:

2 Responses to How to become a successful builder: #1 Stay in Control

  1. Shane February 21, 2013 at 2:11 am #


    How do you deal with the issue where the scope-of-work is incomplete, because the people within your company who build the scope did not include everything or bid everything. Then the client goes off on you, and the field supervisor in front of everyone, because he/she was expecting more?

  2. Graeme February 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    Thanks for adding your experience. This is not an easy situation. And no one comes out a winner. A long time ago I was taught that honesty is always the best option…in the long-term. It might not seem so in the short-term. But, if your company is winning bids on false pretenses, then your clients are right to be angry. And, what’s more, it’s not in your company’s best interests to keep doing so. The best way ahead is to accept your client’s anger – without responding in like manner. Don’t lose your composure. That just makes matters worse. At this point you are just the messenger. Tell them you will look into the matter and come back to them. Then do exactly that. If it turns out that your estimators are incompetent, then your company’s owner(s) need to do something about that, and recognize the credibility of the client’s grievance. That’s probably not your call though.

    However, ff you are being asked to compromise your integrity, then you have a decision to make. Personally I wouldn’t work for a company that required you to be deceptive. It’s not the best option in the long-term.

Leave a Reply

[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This