How We Work – New Construction
M.R. Brewer is a true custom builder. That means we build to suit, no idea is too far-flung, and unlike production builders, our process is fluid and flexible. Or maybe a better way to put it is that it’s not our process – it’s yours.
We keep it on track through frequent and open communication with you, and our end goal is always to create a structure of the highest quality that is completely personal.
Our philosophy is to design, first and foremost, for what you love and how you live. Here’s the 9-step process we follow to make that happen:
The first step in the construction process is to get together and discuss your high-level goals and budget parameters. The main topics we’ll want to discuss in this meeting are:
Budget & Scheduling
We’ll want to make sure the project you have in mind is something we can build both within your budget and your timeframe.
Your Initial Plans
Some people come to this initial meeting with drawings in hand already; others come to us first for guidance and look to have more of a conceptual conversation. If you involve us in the earliest planning stages, we can suggest ideas from structure to layout to positioning on your site, and we’re also happy to connect you with an architect we trust.
At M.R. Brewer, we offer two main contract types: Time and Material (also commonly referred to as “T+M” or “cost plus”), and Fixed Price. In our initial meeting, we’ll answer any questions you have about these and discuss which one would probably work best for you.
A Time and Material contract is best used when you’re under a tight timeline, have a more flexible budget, and/or if you think your design will evolve. With a time and material contract, we don’t provide a total estimate or price upfront, but we do generally set a cap, which can be adjusted if you decide to expand the scope. With this contract type, we provide you with documentation of all material purchases and charge by the hour for labor.
A Fixed Price contract, on the other hand, is estimated fully upfront (with the exception of any change orders). Before your project starts, we will provide you with comprehensive specs and a price that factors in current material costs, our crew’s total estimated time, and bids we’ve received from specialized tradespeople such as electricians or plumbers. If you’re working with a lender, this is the type of contract we’ll need to use.
Before we can begin pricing out your project, you’ll need to have architectural plans drawn up for it. If you already have these before we meet, you’re one step ahead! If not, we can help you coordinate getting them done.
When you meet with your architect, make sure that in addition to discussing the physical space you desire, you also make them aware of your budget. While it’s not their job to design for an exact price, the local architects we use have a very good feel for what can and can’t be accomplished within a general range.
Once you have your drawings done, we’ll reconvene for what we call the “wants and needs” meeting. In this meeting, we’ll review your plans together, discuss some of your major material preferences, and establish a timeline for next steps.
By knowing which elements are must-haves and which are simply nice-to-haves, we may be able to price out a few different scenarios, at potentially different price points, for you.
We’ll then get to work on estimating the cost of your project. As a custom builder, we don’t have a set price per square foot – instead, we price out current material and labor costs for each and every job. This can take a few weeks, as it involves discussions with all the suppliers and specialized tradespeople we would use – from lumber yards to plumbing supply houses to electricians and more.
One advantage of working with M.R. Brewer is that we do all of our own millwork and employ a full-time in-house frame to finish construction crew. This brings a level of certainty to your primary labor expense, and allows for a quicker turnaround on that portion of your estimate.
And for the specialized trades, we work with a small group of contractors whose work we trust, and who we can count on to deliver service that upholds our brand and reputation.
Once we’ve compiled a comprehensive estimate for your project, we’ll meet with you once again to review the numbers and discuss the pros and cons of any options that exist, including our recommendations based on looking at your estimate from a value-engineering perspective.
Things we might adjust to trim costs or improve value might include different completion timelines, optional add-ons, trim packages, levels of customization, and whether you’ll retain our in-house kitchen and bath designer (and for what scope of work).
When your contract is fully prepared, we’ll invite you in to give it a final review, sign off on the work plan, and officially kick off your project. Your first deposit will be due at this point, and your dedicated project manager will immediately schedule the first phases of work.
As we make progress against these early milestones, we’ll keep you informed every step of the way via your preferred contact method, whether that’s a phone call, email, and/or real-time updates from our online project management portal.
Once we break ground, we’ll begin to hold weekly meetings on site to review the upcoming week’s work plan and incorporate any changes or customizations you’d like to make. This meeting will always be with the same dedicated project manager you’ve been working with all along. We will do a walkthrough with you before any rough-in work, and sometimes we’ll pull different people in to the meeting, such as your kitchen designer, your tile and flooring rep, etc.
Before you move in to your space, we want to be sure every detail was completed to your satisfaction. When our finish carpenter is done, the appliances are in, and the construction cleaning is complete, we’ll conduct a final walkthrough with you to search for any small details that need to be fixed or touched up. This creates our final punch list. We’ll then bring the appropriate people (painter, plumber, finish carpenter, etc.) back in to make those adjustments ASAP.
We plan to do great work for you, and we love to show that kind of thing off! So if you’re willing, we’d love to send an architectural photographer over to document your new space once it is complete. The photos will help our future customers see the type of work we do, and we’ll also give you rights to the images for your own personal use.