Client StoryOctober 30, 2022

From Empty Lot to Dream Home – on Budget!

A return client came to us with an empty, wooded lot with hidden potential, and our design build team envisioned and created her dream home. Having only worked with our architecture group previously, she became a convert to design build with this project. Here, in her own words, is the story…
Front entry wooden eave native plants in Mill Valley

newly built modern home in mill valley

From Opportunity to Reality

I found this property when I was running one day—an empty lot in Mill Valley that was for sale. It was a sloped and forested lot, hard to tell what was buildable or what the views would look like. I called AT6—whom I’d worked with on a remodel at my previous house—and asked them to take a look and see what they thought. They helped figure out where on the site we’d need to build to take advantage of the views, how we could work with the existing trees, and how we could meet the design guidelines for the development given the site restrictions. Their diagrams gave me confidence to buy the land.


Mill Valley Land

exterior of modern home view of the bay

Mill Valley home native plants stone pathway

A Team Focused on Problem-Solving

I had worked with Jason as an architect on my previous house, not as a builder. I knew he was a great architect, but I was surprised that he was equally talented as a general contractor. The whole AT6 team was so incredibly organized. They are not easily ruffled and are problem-solvers. I appreciate that they would bring me decisions to make and always have multiple options. I am a busy executive at a high-growth company, so having them keep me on track was very helpful. Working with them always felt like a partnership.

Despite making a lot of modifications as I went, they completely nailed the budget.


wooden deck view of san francisco bay

Managing the Budget

I was also surprised that, despite making a lot of modifications as I went, they completely nailed the budget. We were within 5% of budget on a multi-million-dollar build. It’s hard to imagine there wouldn’t be something really hard or unanticipated to overcome in a project of this size, but it was really smooth.

Managing the Inevitable Changes

The design build process is incredibly efficient and amazing. When you get into the build phase, new details emerge that were not obvious when the design was just on paper. Having the architect be the same as the builder makes inevitable modifications MUCH easier. There are not multiple parties to coordinate on changes, and the process is less expensive and time-consuming as a result. Also, AT6 designs with a builder’s mindset, so things are not unnecessarily complicated to execute.

AT6 designs with a builder’s mindset, so things are not unnecessarily complicated to execute.

Why My Home is So Great

The house feels homier and warmer than you would expect a house this size to feel. The flow among the rooms is fantastic. Natural light is incredibly important to me, and I love all the windows, the accordion doors, the indoor-outdoor living on both floors. Also, despite having a fixed height to work with, they managed to get high ceilings throughout the home that are especially dramatic in the great room. The home has a modern but timeless feel to it in every way.


Modern home dining room with open plan kitchen view of the bay

open plan kitchen dining area looking towards the living room


One of the things I really like about AT6 as architects is that they are able to create beautiful, high-end details that are designed for high utility and look more expensive than they are. In the entry, I love the walnut screen, which really establishes a sense of transition into the house but allows you to glimpse the beautiful living room and views that open up just behind it. They are practical without cutting corners, and design for beauty and function.


cosy living room with large windows and fireplace

living room with couch and large windows


My hopes were that this would be my dream home, and we absolutely achieved that. I really hoped that the views would be spectacular—it was hard to know when we were looking at the empty lot—and they turned out way beyond my expectations. I wouldn’t change anything in the decisions we made.

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