Our Building Philosophy
Morgan-Keefe Builders has the adaptability to work in a variety of situations, whether you already have an architect and a completed set of plans or you’re just starting the process and putting together a team, we can facilitate your needs. We encourage and assist our clients in assembling a full team from the beginning of the project, including an architect, builder, interior designer, and landscape architect.
As Asheville’s premier custom homebuilder, our refined process has evolved to accommodate even the most minute details, making us a highly-sought after Asheville builder. We collaborate with you and your chosen team and work to elevate each project to an art form, resulting in nothing short of a masterpiece.
THE MKB PROCESS
The Land – Initial Meeting
The earlier in the process that we can offer guidance, the better. Malcolm Morgan, with hiking boots and sketch pad, will walk the land with you. We meet on the homesites that are finalists, or, we walk your chosen homesite together. Building some of the area’s most iconic homes on some of the most challenging terrain, has given Malcolm an invaluable eye for layout. He will access how to take the best advantage of view potential, house placement and the most important rooms, and ease or difficulty of building on the site.
The only way to understand our quality for detail, is to walk into an MKB home. The difference will speak for itself. Our collective value as a company comes together in our work, the final product…a masterpiece. We have many examples to share with our clients – just view our portfolio.
MKB Office Meeting
Malcolm, Brenda, President and CFO of Morgan-Keefe and our estimator sit down and immerse themselves in the details of your project. Most importantly, your vision, your style and what you are seeking in your new home. Budgets are also discussed at this time.
If plans have been drawn, a review and discussion with suggestions of value engineering or enhancements will be made. This is normally where we are introduced to your architect, if one is already involved. If you do not have an architect and/or an interior designer, after getting to know you, we can make recommendations for a good fit.
We discuss the building process, including important client requirements and how MKB manages that process. This is critically important and one of our most unique differentiators. We discuss forms of contract, financial accountability, insurance provided by MKB and subcontractors, as well as other administrative and financial aspects of the project. Our clients take comfort in the transparency, detail and structured process of MKB administration.
We discuss forms of contract, financial accountability, insurance provided by MKB and subcontractors, as well as other administrative and financial aspects of the project. Our clients take comfort in the transparency, detail and structured process of MKB administration.
Letter of Intent
Once you have decided that we are good partners for your project and want to move forward, we generally sign a letter of intent that allows us, with permission, to do certain pre-construction activities including surveys, septic permits, exploration of steep slope compliance, etc., so once we have final plans, a final estimate, and a contract, we can hit the ground running.
Unless your plans are fully flushed out, to make sure you are on the right track, before incurring the costs of further design fees, additional meetings and discussions take place, usually including your architect and guidance from an interior designer. Our estimator will ask many questions to get the estimate as close to reality as possible. Our average final costs are within 2% of the original costs, excluding owner changes and unforeseen site conditions. In addition to the estimator, Malcolm, Brenda and a project manager attend at least two estimate reviews that include lots of questioning for the estimator and presentation of ideas of subcontractors and value engineering on your behalf.
MKB uses AIA (American Institute of Architect) contract templates. These are tried and true contracts and generally, present a fair balance for all parties. Most attorneys are familiar with this template and it helps make the process flow more smoothly for review.
Final Control Estimate
Plans are finalized and as many decisions as possible are made and signed off on. The final control estimate and the contract are approved. Once we have a fairly firm start date of construction, the project manager – CEO assignment is finalized.
CEO – On-Site Management
At MKB you will have a dedicated CEO working exclusively on your home build. This is a crucial difference between our company and our competition. We do not believe in “drive by” management. You have a fully engaged CEO on your build. Bottomline, when the price of your home exceeds the annual revenue of 90% of the small businesses in America, it deserves a dedicated CEO. This is never optional, but an integral part of our build philosophy.
The only way to truly control quality, cost and project timeline is active daily involvement on your site by the project manager. Constant communication and coordination with the trades and oversight of the work is the absolute key to the final product.
Before your project begins, the project manager spends time in the office studying the plans and specs after he or she has made a visit to the site, essentially building the house in their head. They meet with the initial trades and prepare sub-contracts, tweak the construction schedule, set up a selection schedule for you, start working the MKB startup checklist, set up files, get permits, develop contacts, etc.
Subcontractor and Supplier Selection
Buyout includes matching subcontractors and suppliers to the project. MKB has a healthy list of qualified subcontractors and suppliers and all new business partners are vetted for quality, reliability, and insurance requirements. The project manager makes the ultimate decision of which subs and suppliers are selected, within the limitations of the budget. We feel this provides the autonomy your CEO needs as he or she is doing the hiring, so they are the boss.
Inspections and Visits
Malcolm generally visits each job site weekly and sends written notes to the project CEO of his observations. Brenda visits each job site monthly which helps not only in pointing out safety, cleanliness and quality concerns. Additionally, it gives her better awareness of the status of the job for the monthly billing meetings she has with each project manager to discuss budget, buyout, selection, and timeline. Assignments are made for project managers to visit other projects and they are encouraged to do so on their own as well. A lot of lip service in our industry is given to the “team approach,” but at MKB this is a realistic expectation. Project managers feel free to call on each other for advice, in addition to coming to Brenda or Malcolm or one of the office staff.
We have a detailed framing checklist that is completed by a project manager and assigned to another project manager, once the framing is complete. This cross-pollination allows another critical eye to view the checklist. Once the framing is done, you have the “bones” of the project that everything else will build upon, so this is a crucial step. The checklist is turned into management. We don’t just rely on county or city inspectors.
Field reports are completed daily by the project manager and turned in to the office. Weekly safety meetings are held on site. All workers on site must attend and sign off. Once a year, we have OSHA attend our monthly operations meeting for updates and as Malcolm says a “Scared Straight” presentation. Certain signage is required at the site, such as our change order processes, daily cleaning reminders, no smoking signs and no trespassing signs to ensure the safety of others. MKB has an excellent safety record.
Speaking of change orders, we do not save them up until the end. We do not like surprises at the end. We present them up front and get approval from you before proceeding. Handing you the keys to your new home should be a time for celebration! We don’t believe in saving any bad news (or good news). That’s what keeps you up at night. Being straightforward and transparent is key to us. Change orders are presented and approved by you via email or in person. Meeting notes are prepared and circulated for all on site meetings with you.
Detailed billings are sent monthly on an AIA Payment Application. Backup includes a Cost Variance Report summarizing the line item budget and any change orders made to date, with explanation and all expenses to date and copies of all invoices and subcontractor applications for payment. Each subcontract payment application is a partial lien waiver as well. Building someone’s home requires trust and MKB believes in full transparency to build that trust.
Construction schedules are turned in to Malcolm and Brenda twice a month for review. Weekly updates are sent to you and your architect every Friday, along with a selection timeline. Updated pictures are posted in a private section of the website, password protected for your privacy.
The selection timeline is provided to you, the architect, and the interior designer at the beginning of the project. One of the main keys to the construction timeline and to the orderly progression of the project is timely selections.
Method to Our Madness
Clients, architects, and designers often do not understand why certain decisions have to be made so early, but we have a “method to our madness” based on years of experience, lead times for materials, procurement of subcontractors and the overall coordination of the entire building process.
The date for the selection on the timeline is the date of final decision for that item. Prior to that, oftentimes, much research has to be done, samples made, repricing to get within budget, etc. Early decisions also allow the project manager to secure buyout early while there are less subcontractors on the job site, allowing more time to be on site when multiple subcontractors arrive needing direction. In addition, early decisions and buyout help to control potential cost escalation and allow greater possibility of booking the preferred subcontractors. Focusing on the timeliness of selections is key to the process. Sometimes we have regularly scheduled conference calls with clients and architects that are key to keeping things moving forward.
MKB will let you know ideal intervals for visitation if you live out of town (to share in the excitement!) Once decisions are made on the exterior, we prepare a mockup of the exterior for you including siding, stone, roofing, gutters and windows so that you can tweak to your liking. We want you to review in person if possible. We encourage visits when the framing is complete and mechanicals are under way. This allows any changes to be made before insulation and drywall are installed to keep the cost of changes minimal. Various other visits include: at the beginning of interior trim to review mock-ups for approval, a preliminary punch list walk through towards the end, and a final walk through before turning over your home. Malcolm and Brenda do at least two punch list walk throughs each, as well.
Typically, meetings will begin at the site and then transition into the MKB office to review selections and any budget issues that need to be discussed. MKB loves to entertain clients in the office with lunch and conversation.
When nearing completion, MKB project managers use a close-out checklist to make sure no details are forgotten. We also prepare a warranty manual for you including all warranty information, operating instructions of mechanicals and appliances, a list of subcontractors and suppliers on the project and maintenance suggestions for the home.
MKB offers a Home Maintenance Inspection service to clients at whatever intervals they prefer. Some owners do monthly, some quarterly, full time residents generally do once or twice a year. It is a great way to protect your investment, as we may see things you don’t and this will allow us to be proactive in resolving issues before they escalate. Additionally, we arrange to take care of any maintenance needed with approval, saving you the headache. Whether you sign up for the home inspection service or not, MKB prides itself on maintaining relationships with our customers. The greatest compliment is when a client hires you again to build another home or add-on/ remodel an existing home.
Let’s Discuss Your Dreams
“We came away from Morgan-Keefe thanking our lucky stars that we picked them as our builders. We really enjoyed working with them. Everyone is so good at what they do.”
— Lynn H.
6 Legend Drive
Arden, NC 28704
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