How to Build in the Tropics – Or Anywhere else

Al Barnes Consulting

for Custom Builds or Renovations

Standard, Sustainable and/or Off-Grid

WELCOME TO ABC, we think you’ll love what you discover here!

You’ve most likely come because you’re preparing to build a brand new custom home or cottage, renovate an existing one or are relocating to a tropical location and doing one of the above down there.

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!

How many rooms will it have? Have you thought about lighting or plumbing fixtures? Did you discuss the wine cellar? How about a smart home system? Will the garage fit all your vehicles/toys? What location have you chosen? What type of flooring; hardwood, bamboo, laminate, polished cement, tile, or carpet? How about a pool/hot tub? Maybe a sauna, tennis court or gym? Do you entertain, perhaps a gourmet kitchen? If in a rural/country setting, what about sustainability (solar/wind) or backup generator?

Did that seem like a lot of questions? That’s not even the tip of the iceberg. A landslide of them is on it’s way, but don’t forget the most important question…

“What’s important to me?”

That should be the first thought in mind when embarking on such a journey. Most of the planning should be about what is important to you (and your partner/family/friends etc. if they apply).

What’s important is different for each of us, and then there are generally many societal and cultural norms to consider, without mention of governmental/local requirements.

If you’re here, you likely fit into one or more of the following categories:
  • You 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 a thing or two about construction but are seeking help with design/planning
  • Are creative, have access to tools and equipment, but lack the skills to use them
  • Would prefer to maximize value by hiring professionals to remove any “unforeseen” possibilities from the equation
  • Aren’t savvy of the possible options, upgrades or technology that could benefit you
  • Lead a busy life, prefer only to collaborate on the project from a desk and would gladly pay someone else to complete do all the hard work
  • Are retiring/seeking to build abroad and require assistance

Perhaps it’s a combination of one or more of the above??

Whichever it is, you don’t want your home designed, built or renovated by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing, or know and care what’s important to you/your family.

Unfortunately, many people allow their builder to control the design, planning, schedule, crew, materials and products used, and most end up unsatisfied (at the very LEAST).

Without a doubt, our intent is certainly not to diss builders/contractors being as it is a huge part of our own history and many are great at what they do. However, with the masters-of-old retiring/dying-off and fewer youth entering the trades in the last 30+ years, there just aren’t enough properly trained and experienced tradespeople to supply today’s demands, let alone those with talents in other specific avenues of the home industry. Knowledge of (decor, security, entertainment, automation, 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 ABC ahead of the game and why we do what we do.

Budgetary restraints are another. Because few builders can do what we do, and not every homeowner (or future homeowner) can afford to employ numerous specialists or ultra high-end niche builders for their projects, we offer the best of both worlds.

For us, understanding and having insight into their thoughts, feelings, beliefs and habits is paramount in creating harmonious and ergonomic homes for our clients. Not to mention being aware of the various products, materials and technologies that can factor into each project for beneficial, individual happiness and satisfaction.

At ABC, we have:
  • A system to assess people for precise determination of dwelling requirements
  • The experience and skill to blend those requirements with available technology
  • A collective network of incredibly talented blue and white collar professionals
  • And the ability to combine all of the above in order to:
  1. maximize value
  2. minimize stress
  3. shorten delays
  4. be successful in continuously creating wonderful homes
Plan Every Detail

At ABC we utilize the Law of Attraction and incorporate quantum mechanics into our projects (even if you don’t).
As the LOA states, “If you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand”.
The key to creating anything (such as your ultimate dream home) is having the ability to “Picture it in your mind in every detail”, and the same can be said for Building/Renovation planning.
Our CDAS (Cognitive Dwelling Assessment System) and industry experience allows us to pinpoint every possible aspect of your dwelling requirements, to manifest a home you’ll love for years to come – and possibly never want to leave.

What you don’t know about it, we do.

We created this service because we are passionate about helping others (always have and always will) and through our years in the building and renovation industry we’ve seen far too many projects fall victim to poor or inadequate planning, and the toll it takes on all involved. One of our goals is to prevent as much of that as we can.

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

We have a commitment to YOUR satisfaction.

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

Its location is just as important as its size, who will live in it and how.

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

Why live Eco-friendly/frugal if you have money to burn?

Why burn money and pollute when you can build green and sustainable?

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

Choice Matters

The average builder has only a few different models, a few different finishes and builds in a few neighborhoods around town. Another builder will have a completely different set of designs with entirely different options, in other parts of town, and so on. They really don’t leave you room for creative license or intervention.

If none have the location, style, colors, textures, materials, or any other various options you may want, what do you do?

If you were like everyone else, you’d cave and purchase a “cookie cutter” home from a big builder with numerous (sometimes poorly managed) crews (who’s credentials are often questionable at best) and your house would look just like every other standardized house in Blahville that looks just like every other house in another town.

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

Anything done right begins with a solid foundation.
We strive to keep you feeling assured, comfortable, safe and happy – from outset to completion and beyond, no matter the project size.
We know what makes a house a home, and a home a castle.
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 the professionals at Articulate Build Consulting be your brilliant, guiding light.
We 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 – we are here to assist however we can.

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

Overcome the Odds

WITHOUT ABCyour 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)

(None of those we 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 our word for it, research it yourself (or check out the links at the bottom of this page).

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

We’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 we have seen for ourselves (or have direct information about) arguments, fights, break-ups, breakdowns, failures and death. Your project 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.

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

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

At ABC we assess our clients in detail to determine their wants and needs and the appropriate members required for any project. We then choose or direct you (so that you may choose) those best suited. We 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.
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 our customers prefer guidance only, hands-on assistance, or rather have it all done for them, we are up to the task.

When it comes to design and build/renovate, there can be literally hundreds of elements to consider (aside from budget/financing): the building itself (style, design/layout, size, usage), geographic location (site, climate, terrain, accessibility), builders/contractors knowledge/capabilities with regard to your individual project, building materials (and access to them), technologies, etc, not to mention thousands of decisions to be made.

Although there are great people in the industry, there are an obscene amount of hacks, inexperienced builders and poorly managed projects everywhere with little or no foresight or oversight.

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

Off-Grid/Sustainable builds, renos/conversions demand 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 might possibly be the scariest journey of your life and spending hours upon hours of your time with architects/designers/builders, ask yourself what is important to YOU, and make an appointment with us. Discover what is best for you/your loved ones (before it’s too late), it will be the best decision you’ll make.

Don’t think of hiring a consultant as an expense, think of it as an insurance or better yet, an investment. People pay insurance for years and may NEVER use it (in which case they have lost money), hiring ABC will save you money AND ensure your success.

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

Investing in experienced savvy professionals who live and breathe Build Consulting is far less costly than a failed project, lost time, spoiled 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 can affect your ability to work, earn an income or even spend it?

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

 ABC is your assurance and piece of mind, investing in us will save you.

 Our 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 Consulting is the solid foundation you NEED for your project.

We know the process.

We know the people.

We know the products/materials.

We know the technologies.

We know what has been missed or gone wrong in the past.

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

Contact ABC now!



Education + Guidance + Investment = Success

We offer a money back Guarantee!!***



Since some of you may be doing it yourself, we realize that hiring others is often necessary, in which case we 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

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

*Based on our survey of 50 homeowners from North America and South America, Trinidad and 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 your project goes over the pre-discussed/agreed upon budget by 15% or more.