Much of the home building process takes place before any dirt is moved. This process can vary based on whether you are building an entirely custom home or working with a semi-custom home plan. Whichever you choose, Morgan-Keefe Builders’ (MKB) attention to detail and focus on quality craftsmanship is the same across the board.
We offer a more general outline on the steps to building a home on Our Process page. If you want more detail, you’re in the right place: read on!
1: Start with the Location
Of course, location is the one thing you can’t change about your home. Certain home styles are better suited for certain topographies. Whether you have already purchased a building lot, or are still looking, Morgan-Keefe will offer our professional insight on how to maximize the land to best accommodate your future home. We can recommend the types of homes that are best suited for the land you are considering. This can be crucial when it comes to land development cost. We also will look at options on how to best utilize the natural contours, amplify the view, manage building on a steep slope, or place the home for the best use of natural light.
Visualizing what could be built on the land is an important first step in the home building process, and we are happy to meet you at the site to discuss ideas and recommend options.
2: Create or Select Your Architectural Home Plans
Morgan-Keefe has made the very deliberate decision not to be an in-house design builder. Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina are brimming with talented architects. Rather than tie our customers to one architect and one designer, we prefer leaving space for our clients to choose an architect and designer who they feel understand their design preferences and needs. That leaves us to focus on what we do best: build homes of the utmost quality with extreme attention to detail.
The design portion of the home building process certainly adds to the overall timeline of the project. Working with an architect to design custom plans can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months or more, depending on the scope of the project and how busy they are. Once architectural plans are in place, layers such as electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and engineering need to be developed and approved. Although this process takes time, building a custom home is a great personal and financial investment, and always worth the wait!
Are you not sure how to hire an architect? Perhaps start by taking a look at Morgan-Keefe’s architectural partners. We make sure that our partners align with our own high standards of quality.
Or, you can take a look at our custom homes gallery to see examples of homes Morgan-Keefe has built with our architectural partners. Each featured home displays a photo gallery and details on the architect, community, and home style.
Some people want to move more quickly than is possible when custom-designing a new house, but have their heart set on building a Morgan-Keefe home. Or, for others, the process of starting from scratch is too daunting. For situations such as this, we offer established semi-custom home plans designed by a handful of select architectural partners.
As part of the semi-custom home building process, the plans are complete, but you as the client will choose all of your finishes. Prior to getting started on the build, you may also make minor edits, if you wish. Some examples include adjusting window size or placement, or rearranging the layout of bathroom fixtures or kitchen cabinetry. Barring any major structural changes that take us back to the drawing board, this option is sure to speed up the process towards breaking ground.
3: MKB Creates a Preliminary Budget
The preliminary budgeting process occurs somewhat in tandem with the creation of your architectural plans. That is because it is based on your preliminary architectural plans. It’s not 100% precise, but it gives both you and Morgan-Keefe an idea of the anticipated budget for your project. A more detailed estimate will come later on in the process.
4: Sign a Letter of Intent
The Letter of Intent (LOI) is a non-binding instrument whereby the client approves Morgan-Keefe to perform agreed upon pre-construction tasks. Put more plainly, it is an agreement that confirms MKB will take care of certain tasks that are required before anything goes vertical. Signing the LOI does not guarantee that the client will choose to enter into a building contract with Morgan-Keefe, but they do agree to cover the costs related to pre-construction work performed.
What needs to be done prior to building? MKB provides you, the client, with a pre-construction checklist that details items that need to be addressed before building can begin. The homeowner can choose to take care of these items on their own, or hire Morgan-Keefe to take care of addressing them. Together, we will agree on who will do what, which will be outlined in the LOI.
The LOI enables Morgan-Keefe to move forward with items such as:
- Homeowner’s Association Submittals
- Site-walk with Homeowner’s Association (if Required)
- Coordinate Placement of Sewer Tap
- Coordinate Placement of Water Meter
- Well and/or Septic Permits
- Steep Slope/Protected Ridge Overlays
- County/City Permits
- Development Fees
5: Cost Estimates
Once your architectural plans are finalized, the estimating process can begin. For a custom home, this can take four to five weeks. The estimate includes costs and a realistic timeline. Morgan-Keefe uses a negotiated bidding process. This allows us to work with high quality, reliable trades people while offering the homeowner the best value for their money.
Before moving forward, Morgan-Keefe encourages you, the client, to bring any concerns about the estimate to light so that we can discuss and resolve them together.
We keep the estimated costs for our semi-custom home plans current with changing prices. This greatly speeds up the time it takes to produce a final estimate. Your custom finish options and other allowances are factored into the final estimate. However, choices made outside of the fixed parameters will alter the estimate and could add time to the process. That’s ok – after all, this is YOUR home! But it is something to be aware of if time is of the essence to you.
6: Sign the Final Contract
For the final contract, Morgan-Keefe uses the true and trusted AIA Contract. This is a standard building contract used across the industry.
Once we have the final contract in hand, we will assign a project manager who you will work closely with throughout your build. We’ll also set a firm schedule, and your anticipated completion date! (This is where you can start counting the days until move-in!)
7: Breaking Ground – The Building Process
After all this build-up, it’s time to actually begin building your home! We take extra care to ensure every detail fits your needs. Are you an art collector? We will add extra blocking in the walls where you anticipate hanging art. Will you have a home office? Custom built-ins of the highest craftsmanship will be both useful and beautiful. This is one example of where excellent communication prior to building will have impressive payouts! We want to understand your needs, wishes, and routines so that your custom home is decidedly you.
Your project manager (PM) will be your go-to person during your home build. They will familiarize themselves with every detail about your home, including plans and specifications, timeline, and budget. The PM is responsible for hiring the best-suited subcontractors from our qualified network, managing the schedule, and completing daily updates on your home’s construction progress. He or she will also work with you on a timeline for your custom selections to ensure work can progress according to the schedule.
Our founder, Malcolm Morgan, will frequently visit your home as it is being constructed to ensure work is meeting his high standards for quality, craftsmanship, and attention to detail.
Many of our previous clients report that the build process was actually enjoyable. We credit this, in large part, to our focus on communication. In order to stay on-schedule and keep you updated on the progress of your build, you will have access to weekly reports and progress pictures. You will be provided with selection timelines so you know by when you need to make the (sometimes difficult!) decisions on the final products, colors, and materials that will be incorporated into your home.
We make every effort to keep you as familiar with your new home as possible. Another way we do this is by shooting aerial drone footage before insulated walls are formed. This way, you will know, years down the road, what is behind your walls!
There are many small details to wrap up as construction winds down. To ensure that the excitement of being nearly done doesn’t mean these items are missed, your project manager will utilize a close-out checklist to make sure nothing is overlooked. After the tradespeople finish their work, the MKB team completes a punch list of any finishing items. Our project managers perform multiple walk-throughs before handing over the keys. First, they check the home from top to bottom with Malcolm Morgan; then, with the architectural team; and finally, with the homeowner.
Every Morgan-Keefe home comes with a home warranty. We build these homes to last, and we back that with our home warranty. MKB goes above and beyond the one-year warranty by offering our Home Care program, which we will discuss next. We want to be sure our clients are 100% happy with their home.
Upon completion of your home, we provide you with a home warranty manual. In addition to our Morgan-Keefe warranty, the manual includes details on which subcontractors worked on your home and all the appliance, fixture, and mechanical manuals and warranties that come with the individual materials included in your home.
Finally – its move in day! After a long and, hopefully, enjoyable process, you are now officially the proud owner of a Morgan-Keefe home.
9: Protect Your Investment with Home Care
Once you’re in the Morgan-Keefe family, we want to make sure you are taken care of. A Morgan-Keefe home is built to last; but that doesn’t stop Mother Nature and Father Time from doing their best to induce wear and tear. That’s why most of our homeowners choose to sign up for our Home Care Program.
Our Home Care Technicians will actively inspect your home (using a 200+ point checklist!) on regular intervals. They will check every room of your home, the exterior, and any outbuildings, pools, fountains – you name it. From checking the light bulbs, to making sure your appliances are operating as they should, to looking for leaks, together you will decide how Home Care can best suit your needs. Every home and homeowner is different, and Home Care can be set on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual schedule.
Some homeowners have skills that don’t reach into the home maintenance realm! Others spend long stretches of time away. Whatever your situation is, Home Care provides peace of mind and can add years of longevity to your Morgan-Keefe home.
That’s it! Building a home is an exciting time, with many decisions and much anticipation. We are there to make the home building process as smooth and enjoyable as possible. And in the end, our hope is you’ll join the ranks of other satisfied Morgan-Keefe homeowners who are proud to live in a work of art.