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Building a Custom Estate? An Advocate Can Create an Optimal Outcome

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Building the home of your dreams just got more thoughtful, more efficient, and more fun with an expert at your side.

Did you know that building a home is considered the third most stressful life event? For custom homes, add 18 to 36 months of planning, design, and construction, as well as common issues such as being over budget or behind schedule, requiring an overwhelming number of decisions, and the uncertainty of how to establish a budget that includes each aspect and amenity. One begins to wonder if it is possible to optimize this process to make it less risky, more rewarding, and actually enjoyable.

It’s a similar situation that Keith Galbut and his wife, Becky, faced when building their home, and it’s what led to the founding of Advocate – Residential Construction Advisors (advocate-rca.com). A practicing lawyer with a focus in business and construction advisory for approximately 20 years, Keith knew all too well the challenges clients so often see in building their luxury dream homes, which led him and the Advocate team to develop a “master plan” to ensure a smoother, less risky, more cost effective, and even enjoyable process.

In a recent ICONIC Hour podcast with Renee Dee, we had the opportunity to sit down with Keith and dive into the exciting and challenging aspects behind custom home building, how Advocate works to mitigate challenges, and an outlook on the future of homebuilding.


“This process of building a luxury home should be an enjoyable experience that is fun, productive, creative, and should be centered around camaraderie, teamwork, and high productivity,” says Advocate founder Keith Galbut.

That might sound unattainable at first, but Advocate works to make it feasible with three overarching objectives: 1) thoroughly determine the homeowner’s objectives; 2) curate the right professional team for the clients’ objectives, budget, and plan; and 3) ensure the plan is integrated into all aspects of the process – driving the timeline, decisions, responsibilities, communication, and budget.

“All of the best people in the areas of design and building will tell you that it is a complex dance that requires lots of teamwork,” says Keith, “It requires data, good decision making, and a well-choreographed group of professionals all who have the client’s objectives at the center of every decision. Our role is to bring that together and drive the collective success.”




Starting with the end in mind is Advocate’s philosophy, as Advocate’s first step is to determine the client’s true objectives. From there, every step of the process is centered around these objectives. “All projects are a function of trade-offs. For each of our clients, those trade-offs vary to some degree,” says Keith. “Our objective is to work very hard during pre-construction to understand the client’s objectives and priorities, so while the house is being designed, it is directly in line with the client’s vision.”

For example, if a client is a chef or a wine collector, they will have different priorities in their luxury dream home compared to, say, the entertainer looking to spend more family time outside. Advocate has the ability to take that direction and use it to drive the team selection, design, and budget to meet the homeowner’s objectives. One client Keith told us about in his podcast was a native of Guatemala with a love of the desert, who wanted an open, “dwelling” vibe. One of the resulting ideas: Create suspended fireplaces in the living and primary rooms with a design to match both the interior and the surrounding mountains, reflecting his native country and celebrating Paradise Valley.

Otto Pappa (https://www.ottocrete.com/) and Winona Grey (https://nonagrey.com

Otto Pappa (https://www.ottocrete.com/) and Winona Grey (https://nonagrey.com)

These choices also drive the budget by prioritizing what is most important to the homeowner. That’s where Advocate’s experience and market knowledge is of great value, because they know where the money is best utilized based on the client’s priorities. 

“We’ve developed a really sophisticated database and financial model to evaluate costs of production per building category, and we take all that information, and we break it down to per-square-foot costs that allow us to build accurate, real-time budgets based on designers, builders, architects, and unique features;” says Keith, “That is extraordinarily valuable information not accessible other than through Advocate, and we utilize that to help our clients make good decisions.” Advocate also uses this information to evaluate and negotiate proposals from construction professionals to ensure their clients are being treated well and consistent with true market pricing.


After establishing objectives and budgets, the next most significant part of Advocate’s work is ensuring the design and build processes go as planned. As Keith says, the biggest reason challenges arise in homebuilding is due to losing sight of the original objectives: “The surest way to create disconnect between the earliest objectives and how things evolve is by not being disciplined to that original strategy.”

He notes, “Building a custom home is certainly not for the faint of heart – it takes a lot of work from engineering, design, and construction means and methods. When all these extraordinary minds are focused in on the client’s best interest, some tremendous results are created.”

By having Advocate at their side, the homeowner’s objectives are made the center of every team members’ goals, whether it be the designers, architects, or builders. This provides a focal point for the entire team to work from, goals for the team to work toward, and allows Advocate to serve as a single point of contact and driver of the timeline. In this way, both the homeowner and the professionals involved in the build get to spend time on what really matters to them, making the overall process more efficient and pleasant.



Desert Jewel

Desert Jewel

It’s no secret that COVID had a major impact on the homebuilding industry. At one point, lumber costs skyrocketed from $300-500 per board foot to more than $1,675, Keith recalled in our podcast. While there is debate about where the housing market is headed, Keith has very positive outlook on the future of luxury homebuilding, especially in Paradise Valley and Scottsdale. And Keith and his team plan to be there to support clients who want to bring strategy, structure, and sensibility to the process.

“Over the past decade, but even more in the last several years, many of our clients are coming to Arizona for a better quality of life or coming to Arizona because of the relative trade-off in cost and value, and I don’t see that changing,” states Keith, “Arizona is an amazing place to live, we’re extremely fortunate to call it home. There is very significant and consistent demand.”

To learn more about Advocate and what they can do for your future home, head here.


This story is sponsored by Advocate.

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