Why have a plan?

The short strokes are:  You should have a plan. What the plan looks like can be different – from a simple sketch on a napkin to pre-made downloadable blue prints to custom made building designs — but it is critically important to have and stick to the plan you have made. Risk management, staving scope creep and your reputation all depend on it.

“We plan to build and then we build the plan.” Paul Horrigan 

The planning process:

Planning phase of project management.  The flight plan.  Plan as blueprint.  Imagine pictures — a diagram, lines on paper — that delineate between constructed spaces and those that remain empty. A “How-To-Book” presents another kind of plan, outlining the steps from start to finish, drawing a line between thought and product, with all the steps and considerations in between.

It’s a storyline, a trajectory. Start here, build in this way and then go up…

Project management

Project management involves 5 phases:  Planning, initiation, execution, monitor & control and closing. Notably these are overlapping stages, one made organic by the nature of the pieces. Understand that the majority of the process is planning; assembly takes little time, compared to the thoughtful planning of a project.

So Why Plan?

You came here looking for plans, but if you want to make God laugh… tell her your plans. Planning is futile. Helpful, but futile.

This is a journey. Organic and alive. An orientation in a certain direction… But, for you people who wear clean underpants (too tight) brush your teeth twice a day. The A-types of the world… Fear not.

In creating a plan, we not only satisfy the bylaw officers and set a roadmap. But truly, having a plan saves:

  • Time!
  • Money!
  • Heartache!

This is both a science and an art


The Art to Collaboration — Planning for Community-building

The art of building a container home in in the conversation, consultation, co-creation and imagining and re-imagining the roadmap to final product. While a general idea is just grand in theory, a plan will support all the players in feeling like they are contributing. It doesn’t take much to ensure the greatest level of engagement and participation …

  1. a big piece of paper
  2. 4-5 boxes
  3. a few manageable tasks
  4. a checklist to be accessed by those who are on site to help

Project management requires people to know and feel able to step into action and to engage with the project.

If you think about it, construction is like attachment parenting. You can hold on too tight… Allow the project to take flight —with conditions — can make for a beautiful product. So let your baby go… Allow people to touch your baby. Give up the tether. Allow your children to experience and to grow at the hands of others… And watch the beauty emerge.

What makes a good plan?
Amazingly, these design plans can be done by hand — and will be accepted by the city planners. Quite simply, they must show the height, the depth and scope of the project but can be quite informal. Many home plans have been approved with just a hand-drawn sketch…

If you are planning to involve other professionals, then having a plan — a blueprint — will allow others to access and co-create with you. Be sure they have ample time to access the plan before a face-to-face meeting to ensure they have the chance to truly consider the design — to allow time for inspiration and to formulate questions.

Without a plan there is much to be missed, to be neglected.  So do yourself a favour and don’t waste their time and money… or yours.


A plan allows you to mitigate risk. It reduces cost, embarrassment and frustration for all the players. Most importantly perhaps, a  plan also allows you to manage scope creep. It constrains the scope of your project — like a seatbelt for a project of this type. If your plan is clear, you are less likely to allow it to grow beyond it’s practical boundaries. If your plan indicates you’ll be building with one container, then you are. The risk of a plan-less project is that the project itself may bloom like an algae on a hot lake… expanding like a mosquito that can’t withdraw its sucker until it implodes…

The power of creative visualization

We know that health gurus and sports trainers use visualization to help create the condition for success. They help athletes to imagine their pathway to winning. In project planning, creative visualization provides the opportunity to define and give voice to the desired end result — a mission statement of a sort. If you imagine what you’re building, it will become so… And a blueprint is a powerful; form of creative visualization, committed to paper.

Architects will create blueprints for your home. Those blueprints help to communicate your vision to your builders.  You might not be the most capable communicator of your vision. Architects have the technical expertise and the vocabulary to communicate with a builder and make sure they understand what you want and need.

Consider approaching someone who is in attendance at an art college, sleep with her and then in the morning walk away with the rough sketch take it to the builder and present it in bite-sized nibbles.