How to Build Lasting Client Relationships as a Home Builder

How to Build Lasting Client Relationships as a Home Builder title on white background with photo of Amelia Lee and Duayne Pearce and Live Life Build Logo

Are you struggling to build and maintain long-term client relationships?

Explore the essential strategies and techniques tailored for you as a home builder to build meaningful client relationships.

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The Pac Process Benefits


The build process basically becomes a friendship.


Yeah, and a weekly show and tell of, like, “Where is progress at?”


So Duayne, we talk a lot about the PAC Process, which is our paid-as-a-consultant process that we teach builders. We love it. We think it is the way to work and develop custom residential projects. 

It’s, of course, where the builder gets paid as a consultant to get on board during the pre-construction phase, work collaboratively with the designer or architect and the client and provide cost and buildability input as the design is being developed. Enabling a huge amount of benefits to the client and also to the builder. 

Do you want to take us through what you see are the main benefits for the builder when it comes to using the PAC Process in their business?


Straight off the bat, number one is you get an understanding of what the client is like, get to know them and figure out if you’ve actually worked with them. 

So many times in the past, I spoke about before, the first time we met the client would be signing a contract, we’d gone through the tender stage and had no communication, maybe a couple of emails. 

But this process allows you to actually meet them face to face, build a relationship, have conversations and get a feeling in your gut whether this is going to be a person that you can actually spend the next three, six, twelve, who knows how long with. 

So, incredibly powerful process and can really save you a lot of heartache if you decide to go into contract with the wrong person.

Understanding the Client


Well, this is the thing like, at the end of the day, you’re going to be involved with this person for a long time. And they’re going to be doing something that they’ve potentially never done before. 

Clients are people who have emotions and fears and concerns and all sorts of things—understanding how they act when they’re under pressure. 

How do they make decisions? 

How do they communicate? 

How do they treat the people that they’re working with? 

If you’re working with a couple, how do they interact with each other? 

How does decision-making happen between the two of them? 

I know that these times where, if you’re working with a couple, you might see that one is really decisive and able to make decisions quickly, the other one’s nervous and needs a lot more preparation, but it’s actually the one who gets nervous that is the one that makes the final decision. 

And if you don’t know that, if you’ve just signed a contract and started with them, and you’re only dealing with the one making decisive decisions, then you can end up with a lot of animosity in that client relationship. 

This is such an intimate process in terms of building a family home. You create a really intimate relationship with the client. It’s important that you actually can take the time and build a process which the PAC Process enables you to do to get to know that client really well. 


Yeah, and there’s so much to it. Getting to know the client is a big one. Building a relationship, getting a gut feeling for what they’re going to be like, as you said, figuring out who does what. 

Importance of Communication

Even through the process, understanding their lives, figuring out when they’re going to be involved in meetings, who can communicate when, and how they’re going to communicate. 

It’s through our PAC Process if people aren’t responding to emails, and I guess following our advice, generally, that’s not going to change once you sign a building contract. So you’re going to find out so much about these people who can educate you on the decisions that you make. 

If they’re the type of client you want to move forward within your business. 

If they’re going to be the type of client that’s going to give you a lot of trouble. 

If they’re going to listen to you. 

If they’re going to follow the contract.

There are so many things. But the other big part is you’re actually getting to sit with them and listen to what they want. We found this incredibly valuable because, quite often, there can be things that discussions that I’ve had through design that don’t flow through the drawings. 

So, just being able to be in those conversations and pick those things up and know what the client is after has meant that we can meet their expectations so much better. And by us being involved, we get set up as a professional. 

Once we get to the point of time where the designs are finished, the costings are done, and we’re ready to go to contract… they trust us. There’s a lot of trust that they know how we work. 

We’ve already been educating them on a lot of our systems and processes that will happen during the build. So we get to contract. It’s a really simple pre-contract, signing meeting. They trust us, we work very well together, and the build process basically becomes a friendship. 

Building Client Trust


Yeah, and a weekly show and tell us like, “Where is progress at?”. Because this is the thing so much about the quality of your relationship when you’re building a home for someone who’s going to rely on the trust that they have in you to be able to do that well. 

If you’re doing that, if you’re only starting that relationship to the point of negotiating the price and signing the contract, what then happens is clients, understandably, are going to feel like they have to watch you like a hawk that they have to really know that you’re going to do what they expect. 

They’re potentially going to be second-guessing everything that you offer up as suggestions or solutions. They’re going to be all over you, potentially involving external people who may or may not be helpful in keeping an eye on whether you’re doing the right thing. 

Instead, they’ve been able to do that all through a much less pressured experience of working with you during the design phase, where they’re having conversations with you, they’re meeting you on a regular basis, and they’re getting to know you personally. 

And they’re seeing that you are somebody who follows through on what you say you’re going to do and that you operate with integrity and professionally. They can go into their construction process trusting that you know what you’re doing. And that means then that, that contractual phase where things have to happen on time, things have to flow smoothly, so that you’re not getting constantly held up. 

Problems are occurring. When the trust exists, then it just transforms how they can feel confident and comfortable that you have everything in hand. And you’ve also said, you’ve been able to be part of those conversations and know what is really important to them. So they know that you’re not going to undo that or disrupt that in the delivery of their home.


When someone trusts you, it takes so much of those confrontational discussions. They’re just gone. They’re non-existent. 

I have this one thing back in the day, and it wasn’t that long ago, and things weren’t going to plan. I had this literal fear and this sick feeling in the gut. Every morning, what’s going to be on my phone when I pick my phone up? What’s going to be in my email box? And so much of that calm because clients, like you said, didn’t know what we were doing. They are watching. They’re nervous. And we hadn’t built a relationship. They didn’t know if we were going to follow through with what we’d discussed. 

There’s just so much going on. And, like now, every day is just another day. There’s no day I’ll get out of bed that thing, oh shit, I gotta go to work today. It’s great. I really look forward to our client meetings. Each day, each week, different clients, different jobs. It’s so good turning up on-site and seeing clients happy to see what’s going on. 

And one client we’ve had recently in particular, where he had just heard so many horror stories, and we went through the PAC Process. Even though we’d gone through the PAC Process and everything was smooth, he got his own legal advice. 

We worked together to get the contract to a point where we were both happy, and the price was good. Every week, right up until the very last site meeting, we actually got to the last site meeting, and he gave me a big hug. 

And he would turn up stressed every week. He’s like, “Is there a variation?” “What’s going to happen today?” “Hey, what’s going on?”

And he just could not believe we’d sorted everything out through the PAC Process. It was quite a big renovation. We’ve done all our site investigations. And we got through the entire job, no variations, great relationship, spot on. And he’s now just an incredible advocate for us. 

But to be able to have a process that gives people that have heard of those like this, he was quite an anxious person to have a process that allows clients that are that concerned, they’ve heard all the horror stories, and to be able to deliver them a quality home, meet all their expectations, and get a hug at the final site meeting. 

And the good part for me, which I love now, and like the team, it’s become a bit of a joke in the team. We finished jobs, and we missed the site meetings. I missed the site meetings, and my wife in the office missed talking to the clients. 

I am a firm believer now that you cannot develop that relationship if you’re not doing the PAC Process prior to signing a contract.

Client Satisfaction and Long-term Benefits of the PAC Process


Yeah, and I think that’s fantastic in terms of such a glowing endorsement for why the PAC Process works so well. Because it just gives you the runway necessary to build that you can’t build friendships like that overnight. It has to be done through those incremental steps. 

And they have to feel that they have enough time with you to get to know you thoroughly and build that level of trust in you. Of course, the other benefits that exist are that you literally get to see and understand what this building is going to be well before you sign that contract. So you get to understand it at such an intimate level. 

That means that you know, as you say, you’re building it 50 times in your head before you come to actually physically signing the contract to really build it. That means that you can then avoid variations. 

You can be sure that you’ve accurately priced it and you’ve accurately understood what it’s going to take to put it together. I mean, that must make such a massive difference to your building business and its profitability overall in terms of how you can run things.


To be honest, recently, we’ve had a situation that’s in, like, reinforcing what we do. And we’ve got a job where we broke our own rules. We knew we were breaking our rules, but it was a good opportunity to get involved with a product that has done its job. We’re involved with the product, and we’re going to use it a lot more. 

But we didn’t do the entire PAC Process. And it’s just highlighted, like all the things that used to happen in the old days are all happening at the moment. And it’s just like pulling my hair out, like, “What’s going on?”. 

It’s been good for me because it’s really enforced that we’re on the right path. But the PAC Process has broken the old design bid build model. And for me, there is no other way. And doing this job recently and not doing our full process because of the certain situation that was in that job has just reinforced that, from now on, there is no other option. 

But it is our PAC Process. If you want to work with the deepest constructions, it is our way or the highway. And we’re not saying that in a bad way. We’re saying that because we know truly, it works: 

It avoids dramas, 

Avoids variations, 

Avoids all conflicts, 

Avoids us not having cash flow and not getting paid, 

It avoids clients from ending up in homes that they are not comfortable with. 

I learned a lot of this from you. And I never actually thought about it. If you have a client that gets a home design and then puts it out to tender, the price has come back, and it’s over their budget, they’ve got to start pulling things out. From that moment, they’re losing interest in that home. And it gets to a point where they’re like, “Whatever, that’s all we can afford. We’re going to take all that stuff out.”


It’s like a massive compromise, so demoralising for them when they’ve been so invested in creating this home they’ve been dreaming of for a long time.


They end up moving into a home that, from day one, they will walk through that home. And for as long as I live in that home, they’re going to look at things and go, “Man, I wish I had thought about that more. I wish the builder had done that.” It’s all gone.


Yeah, so if you’re interested in the PAC Process, make sure you check out our PAC Challenge. It takes you step by step through how to actually start using the PAC Process in your business. 

As we said up front, we believe this is the way to streamline so much in a custom residential building business. It has huge benefits for you as the builder and also for clients, architects and designers as well. 

We are seeing incredible benefits. It really does deal with all of the drama, that design bid build model that we have been using for decades now. It honestly creates that the design bid build model is a completely broken one. And we think that the PAC Process is the best alternative.

Learn more about building trust and long-term relationships with your clients here:

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