Construction Consulting


For Current or Future Homeowners

Often, little thought is given to the roof over head.

Why is that?

Your home is where you sleep – in comfort and security.

It’s also where many relax, exercise, entertain, play, upkeep hygiene, prepare and eat food, and for some – operate a business.

Preferably with well designed zones for each of the aforementioned.

In general, dwellings are designed and built, by and for, average people – with average lifestyles and budgets in mind.

Certainly there are various levels of “average”, but for the masses – most dwellings lack in character, ergonomics, and are built to minimum” code.

Like me, you are NOT average – or you wouldn’t be here reading this.

You require more than “average”, and have come seeking guidance/assistance.

So, allow me to enlighten you through my years of experience in the field.

It’s not just my passion…

It’s my life.

Throughout my career I have worked in almost every realm of the Home Building, Renovation, Security and Integration industries. Watching, conversing and working alongside seasoned professionals. Dealing directly and indirectly with homeowners of every walk of life, inside and outside Canada.

I love architecture, technology, nature, and the knowledge that there exist others who desire to live in an abode they dream about.

My passion is assisting in manifesting those dwellings – not merely some cookie-cutter box.

I am uncertain that there are others out there who do what I do, but I do know that many an architect/designer have never actually built a home or builder/contractors who’ve never planned/designed one.

Sure, there are “Home Builders” who claim to do everything, but they often sub-out many tasks, so you have yet someone else to deal with. And lets’ face it, they have a product or service to sell – I don’t.

If you’re looking for Build Consulting, I believe you’ll love what you discover here. Whether you decide to invite me along for the ride (or not), I implore you to read on. I will give you have food for thought and leave you, at the very least, informed about what lies ahead on your journey.

You’re most likely here because you’re preparing to build a brand new custom home or vacation getaway, or about renovate an existing one.

Whichever it is, Congratulations!

Have you planned it all out in your head? Do you have anything on paper?

Any drawings or plans, perhaps on 3D architectural or CAD software?

I’m so excited for you (but equally nervous too)!

Country or city setting? How many rooms will it have? Have you thought about lighting or plumbing fixtures? Did you discuss the wine cellar? How about Smart-Home technology? Will the garage fit all the vehicles/toys? What location have you chosen? What type of flooring; carpet, hardwood, bamboo, laminate, polished cement, tile, stone or a mixture of ? How about a pool/hot tub? Maybe a sauna, tennis court or gym? Do you entertain, perhaps a gourmet kitchen or a wicked audiovisual system? If in a rural/country setting, what about sustainability (solar/wind/water power), septic system, water, or backup generator? Outdoor pizza oven? Do you have pets, what of their well being?

Did all those questions make your head start to spin? If not, just wait, that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. A landslide of questions are on the way!

Priority #1,

“What’s important to me, my partner/family?”

The answer will be different for each of us, particularly when combined with societal and cultural norms – and governmental/local requirements to consider. So give your project plenty of deep thought.

If you’re reading this, you probably:
  • Desire more than what the average builder can deliver
  • Care deeply about your personal well being and that of your partner/family
  • Know the importance of a home and the shelter, comfort and security it should offer
  • Would love to “Do It Yourself” but know very little about construction/renovation
  • Know very little about the tools involved and/or lack the knowledge/ability to use them (or where to acquire them)
  • Know a thing or two about construction/tools/tech but are seeking help with the design/plan
  • Would prefer to hire a professional to help prevent any “unforeseen” issues from the project
  • Are not savvy of the technology or options that could be beneficial to your project
  • Lead a busy life, and would prefer only to collaborate on such a project from behind a desk/would gladly pay someone else to complete the leg-work
  • Are retiring/seeking to build in the tropics and haven’t a clue where to start

And, you likely don’t want your home designed and/or built/renovated by someone who doesn’t know and care about what’s important to you/your family.

Unfortunately, most people allow their builder to control everything (design, planning, schedule, crew, materials/products, etc) and many end up unsatisfied – at best.

Without a doubt, my intent is certainly not to diss builders/contractors

They have had a HUGE impact on my life (both good AND bad), and without them most of us would be living in caves – or without work. 🙂

However, with the masters-of-old retiring/dying-off and fewer youth entertaining a job in the trades, it’s slim pickings. The last 30+ years have not produced enough properly trained and experienced tradespeople to supply today’s demands, and even fewer with talents in other (specific and important) avenues of the residential sector.

Knowledge of (design, decor, security, entertainment, connectivity, automation, lighting, kitchen/bathroom design and the like) and the capability of thinking outside the box of conventional standards are just a few of the things that put  ABCs at the forefront of the residential game.

As for me, having an understanding and passion for the ideas, feelings and habits of my clients is paramount in planning and creating of an ergonomic, harmonious, comfortable and safe home.

My strengths over others:
  • A system to assess people for precise determination of dwelling requirements
  • The experience and capability for integrating those requirements with available technology
  • A network of incredibly talented blue and white collar professionals for my database
  • The ability to combine the above for:
  1. Maximizing Value
  2. Minimizing Stress
  3. Shortening Delays
  4. Continuously creating successful, wonderful dwellings
Plan Every Detail

As the Law Of Attraction dictates that, “If you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand”.
The Secret to creating anything (like your Ultimate Dream Home) is having the ability to “picture every detail in your mind”. If you can’t right now, I’ll get you there.
My CDAS (Cognitive Dwelling Assessment System) paired with experience allows me to pinpoint every possible important aspect of your lifestyle requirements, and help you to manifest a home you’ll love for years to come – and possibly never want to leave!

What you don’t know about this stuff, I do!

I’ve become a consultant not only because of my background and talents, but because I love helping others. Through my years in the construction and renovation industry I’ve seen far too many projects fall victim to poor or inadequate planning, and the toll it can have on those involved. My goal is prevention.

Growing up, we didn’t have a home of our own (per se) – but I often dreamt of it. As a matter of fact it was much later in life that I even experienced living in a detached, single family home, and only in the last decade was I in the right circumstance to purchase my own.

Aiding others with their dream homes is something that gives me great pleasure.

I care about you, your family, relationships, health and budget.

I have a primary commitment to put YOUR satisfaction ahead of my own.

A home isn’t just 4 walls, a roof, ceiling and floor; it’s much, MUCH more.

Location is just as important as size, who will live there and how.

Architectural design, construction and options are all VERY individual. Homes should not be alike because people/families are not alike. Consulting is IMPORTANT!

Why give your time (and money) to someone who doesn’t truly care about the end product or more importantly, YOU?

You want someone who, like you, will turn and look back at your home as they walk/drive away, feeling good about their accomplishment and your happiness.

Choice Matters

Average builders offer merely a few different models, less than a handful of finishes and build in maybe a few neighborhoods . One will offer a completely different set of designs with entirely different options and locations than another, and so on. Depending on your needs and choice of location it really doesn’t leave you much room for creative license or intervention.

If none have what you want, where you want, what do you do??

If you were like everyone else, you’d make exceptions, settle for less and purchase one of those “cookie cutter” homes from a big box builder. One that may very well be poorly managed or whose crews’ credentials could be questionable (at best). And your house will be just another standardized house in Blahville, similar to houses all over town.

But you’re not everyone else, you want more and that’s why you’re here!

Anything done right begins with a solid foundation.
I strive to keep you feeling assured, comfortable, safe and happy – from first contact to completion and beyond, no matter the project size.
I know what makes a house a home, and a home a castle.
Planning, planning, planning – for starters!
The right combination of process, people, products, technologies/innovations and correct implementation of them as a group is a must for a successful, fulfilling and exciting end result.
Don’t let what should be a fantastic life experience turn into a nightmare by allowing your inexperience (and possibly incorrect mindset) lead you down a dark path. Let me be your brilliant, guiding light.
I have the Foundation, for YOUR Imagination.

So, whether doing it all yourself, strapping on the tools, overseeing the sub-trades, or just hiring others for everything – I am here to assist however I can.

Compare Apples with Apples – for a true estimate

Always bear in mind that if you DON’T have a set of architectural drawings available for your possible builders/contractors to estimate on, there will ALWAYS be a massive difference in estimates (or quotes) – and project success.

Without drawings/plan; you will likely discuss many styles, options, materials, etc, etc with each individual – including family and friends, let alone those who would do the work!

And with each conversation, project ideas and scope will change.

However, before drawings/plans can be made, other planning is necessary. A consultation with a professional who knows the ins/outs is key to starting the process. Don’t allow your dream to collapse prior to it beginning by not building a solid foundation!

And don’t let others tell you a consultant is a waste of money.

The best thing that you can do in life is invest in yourself, and consulting with ABCs is doing exactly that!

Overcome the Odds

WITHOUT ABCsyour project can (and quite possibly will, statistically)

  • Take LONGER than expected
  • Cost MORE than budgeted
  • BREAK up your family
  • RUIN a relationship
  • CAUSE health issues
  • NOT meet expectations

*75% of “out of country” builds were 55% (a few 100+%) over budget!

*10% of those builds failed altogether due to finance issues

*50% of custom builds/renovations cause relationship stress

*2 out of 50 have ended relationships/broken-up families

*15 of 50 caused health issues (mental/physical)

Jobsite safety issues cause delays and other issues but can be prevented with proper education
Man on crutches with broken leg – photographer unknown
(None of those I surveyed had fatalities, but if you check the online stats, there are far too many who have succumbed to accidents, tool/equipment related injuries and health issues to name but a few. Don’t just take my word for it, research it for yourself (or at least check out the links at the bottom of this page).

**40% of Canadians -who only remodeled- went over budget (imagine a custom house!)

I’ve been in the building and renovation industry for many years, as a result have worked with thousands of individuals/couples/families and can say that I have seen for myself the arguments, fights, break-ups, breakdowns and failures that take the fun out of these types of projects. Yours shouldn’t add to those stats.

Not to be taken lightly, for those adventurous enough to attempt a custom build or renovation on their own; the process of design, deluge of decisions, avalanche of tasks and flood of invoices can be dramatically life-changing.

Many hundreds of thousands the world over attempt it every day and a huge percentage don’t/won’t succeed. Of those who do, a great deal encounter dire consequences; relationships ruined, marriages/families torn apart, dreams shattered, and sleepless nights filled with anxiety. Some have succumbed to heavy financial burden, even bankruptcy, others hospitalized, lost their lives or worse, a combination of the above.

Prevent relationship turmoil with a building, renovation consultant
Broken glass on nice picture of a couple – photographer unknown
Peter Pearson of  The Couples Institute says, “Tackling any major undertaking as a couple brings up dilemmas that are blind to geographic location, ethnicity and culture”. “It’s just proof of the universality of the emotional brain”.

Don’t let frustration take over

On almost any given build or renovation, there are at least a dozen of the following white/blue collar workers involved; architects, designers, builders, foundation workers, framers, electricians, plumbers, dry-wall techs and compound applicators, insulators, painters, carpenters, carpet layers, hardwood flooring installers, masons, tilers, HVAC techs, roofers, home-automation techs, audio/visual engineers, security/fire techs, decorators, stair design/install, the list goes on, and on, and on

Consulting can save you stress
Stressed woman – photographer unknown

Don’t leave your every decision up to your builder/contractor(s), inform yourself and/or hire me, and make educated decisions that will be best for you/your partner/family.

My Consulting Practice

I assess my clients in detail to determine their wants and needs and the appropriate team members required for any project. I then choose or direct you (so that you may choose) those best suited. I have the knowledgeexperience and ability to dissect and analyze each and every aspect of a given project to determine which/if/when other sources should be involved, saving you energy, time, money, stress (or possibly failure). Remember, your project may be necessary, but grief is not.

prevent disaster, consult before you build
Fallen house of cards – courtesy IWF11 and Photobucket

Certainly you, or someone you know, has built or renovated a home and has spoken at length of the woes? If not, click on any of the Links near the bottom of the page for some enlightening  information.

Whether my clients prefer guidance only, hands-on assistance, or rather have it all done for them, I am up to the task.

When it comes to design and build/renovate, there can be literally hundreds of elements to consider;

First of all, there is budget/financing. Then, the building itself (style, design/layout, size, usage). Geographic location (site, climate, terrain, accessibility). Builders/contractors. Building materials (and access to them), technologies, etc,  and not to mention thousands of decisions to be made.

There is an incredible number of people in the industry, some are excellent, yet there are also an obscene amount of hacks; inexperienced builders and poorly managed projects  with little-or-no foresight or oversight.

I make certain that every client is equipped with the pertinent information/people/products and innovations required for utmost satisfaction and minimum grief/aggravation.

Off-Grid/Sustainable builds, renos/conversions require even more knowledge and consideration because they deal with new and old technologies and often hybrids of both. It’s not all about high tech or big $$, it’s about what’s best for the individual and the planet.

Before embarking on what could possibly be the scariest journey of your life, spending unknown hours of your life with architects/designers/builders…

Ask yourself what is important to you/your loved ones/etc. and make an appointment with ABCs before it’s too late.

Don’t think of consulting as an expense,

think of it as a safety net or better yet, an investment. People pay insurance for years and may NEVER use it (in which case they have lost money), collaborating with ABCs will save you money AND ensure your success.

A well known standard practice in Building/Renovating is to “pad” your budget, to add (at minimum) an extra 10, 15 or even 20% to the overall. This covers unforeseen (omissions, wrong assumptions, inadequate allowances, price changes, novel materials/techniques). Working with me will save you at the very least 10%, AND make certain your project is successful.

consulting is the key to savings
Burning money – courtesy unknown

Investing in an experienced, savvy professional who lives and breathes Build Consulting is far less costly than a failed project, lost time, wasted materials, health issues, torn relationships or loss of life.

Forget the money, can you place a dollar value on your time, relationships, family, health, or life?

Ever thought about how any of the above could affect your ability to earn an income or even spend it?

No matter what, during your lifetime you will be educated. Education costs, but it doesn’t always have to be the hard way.

 ABCs is your assurance and piece of mind, investing in me will save you.

 My mission: “Aiding current/future Homeowners, Contractors and Builders through strategic assessment, education and guidance to achieve consistently successful projects and avoid the setbacks that destroy relationships, health and investments.”

Whether building or renovating, Al Barnes Construction Consulting is the solid foundation you NEED for your project.

I know the process.

I know the people.

The products/materials.

The technologies.

What has been missed or gone wrong in the past.

With ABC your project(s) will always be successful.

Contact Al Barnes Construction Consulting NOW!

building, renovation consultant logo
ABCs logo (large)


Education + Guidance + Investment = Success

I offer a money back Guarantee!!***

Some of you may be doing it yourself, but occasionally hiring others is necessary. I have included a few links on issues/topics you may encounter if doing so on your project.


Mike Holmes – Renovation Stress

Esther Walker/Daily Mail – Surviving your Reno

Ladies Home Journal – “Our Reno is Wrecking our Marriage”

Home Renovations make 12% of couples consider Divorce – Houzz

Building a Dream Home turned into a Nightmare – House Beautiful

Think About Asbestos –

Contractors Death – How you CAN be responsible – Vancouver Sun

What type of Accidents/Injuries you could incur on your project –

So you gave a Deposit, no guarantee that your project be completed – Calgary Herald

The $500,000 you found while digging the foundation or opening the bathroom wall on your property doesn’t necessarily belong to you – ElderLawAnswers

It’s not always YOUR renovation that will do you in – National Post

Accidents Do Happen, even to the Pros – St. Catherines Standard

3 Scams used by Contractors on Clients and other Contractors that You should know about

Not sure how we could help with this one, but here’s something for the “Strange” files –  Haunted Hudson Valley

*Based on a survey of 50 homeowners from North, South and Central America, Trinidad/Tobago and a few from the EU. Statistic numbers have been rounded-up.

**Based on the 2013 Houzz & Home Survey of over 100,000 Canadians

***If you are not completely satisfied with or your project goes over the pre-discussed/agreed upon budget by over 15%.