Our Building Philosophy
Morgan-Keefe Builders has flexibility to work in various scenarios, whether you already have an architect and a completed set of plans, or, just starting the process and putting together a team or something in between. We encourage our clients to put their team together from the start including the architect, the builder, the interior designer and the landscape architect.
Our clients are discriminating and successful, particular and have a refined appreciation of the painstaking details of creating the highest quality, in its many manifestations. As Asheville’s premier custom homebuilder, our process is highly evolved, refined and sought out, as it should be.
We collaborate with you and your chosen team, elevating your build to an art form. The result, a destined for a magazine cover…masterpiece.
The Land – Initial Meeting
The earlier in process that we can offer guidance, the better. Malcolm Morgan, with hiking boots and sketch pad, will walk the land with you. Best scenario…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 a keen eye that is invaluable at this stage. How to take the best advantage of view potential, house placement and the most important rooms, ease or difficulty of building on the site. How any plans for the site will play on the chosen land. Many valuable ideas are hatched and .
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.
MKB Office Meeting
Malcolm, Brenda, President and CFO of Morgan-Keefe and our estimator sit down and become immersed in the details of your project. Most important, your vision, your style and what you are seeking in your new home. Budgets are discussed at this time.
If plans have been drawn, a review and discussion with suggestions of value engineering or enhancements. This is normally where we are introduced to your architect, if one is already involved. If you do not have an architect, and or, interior designer yet, after getting to know you, we can make recommendations for a good fit.
We discuss the building process including the decision making by you and how MKB manages that process. This is critically important and one of our most important differentiators.
We discuss forms of contract, financial accountability, insurance provided by MKB and required of MKB’s subs, basically the whole administrative and financial aspects of the potential job. Brenda, is a CPA with over 30 years of business experience. We build for highly successful business people that take comfort in the transparency, detail and structured process of MKB administration.
Letter of Intent
Once you have decided that we are a good fit 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 the all parties. Most attorneys are familiar with this template and it makes the process smoother 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 date of construction start, 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 us 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 oversite 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 (she) has made a visit to the site, basically building the house in their head. They Meet with the initial trades and prepares sub-contracts, tweaks the construction schedule, sets up a selection schedule for you, starts working the MKB startup checklist, sets up files, gets permits, contacts development, 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 (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, but 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 in addition. A lot of lip service in our industry is given to the “team approach”, but at MKB this is a real 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 assigned to another project manager, once framing is complete. This cross polentation allows another critical eye actually involved in the checklist. Once framing is done, you have the “bones” of the project that everything else will build on, so making sure this is right is critical. 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 process, daily cleaning reminders, no smoking signs and no trespassing signs to ensure others safety. 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. Hanging 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.
Construction schedules are turned in to Malcolm and Brenda twice a month for review. Weekly updates are sent to the you and your architect every Friday, along with a selection timeline. Update pictures are posted in a private section of the website, password protected your privacy.
The selection timeline is provided to you, architect and 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 for 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 jobsite, allowing more time to be on site later directing subcontractors when multiple subcontractors start to arrive. In addition, early decisions and buyout help to control potential cost escalation and allow greater possibility to book the preferred subcontractors. Focus on the timeliness of selections is key to the process. Sometimes we have regularly scheduled conference calls with clients and architects that are remote to keep things moving forward.
MKB lets will let you know intervals when you should visit if you live out of town and more often if you can, 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 the 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 through each as well.
Typically, meetings will begin at the site and then evolve into 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 info, operating instructions of mechanicals and appliances, a list of subcontracts and suppliers on the project and maintenance suggestions for the home.
MKB offers a Home Inspection service to clients at whatever intervals they would like. Some owners do monthly, some quarterly, full time residents generally once or twice a year. It is a great way to protect your investment, as we may see things you don’t and can head off issues before they become bigger. 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.
6 Legend Drive
Arden, NC 28704
Toll Free: (888) 446-4491