A commitment to continuing education has allowed McNeil Co. Builders in Omaha, Neb., to be known for exceptional quality and stunning architectural designs. McNeil Co. designers take educational trips several times a year, attending seminars or visiting manufacturers to learn what’s new and innovative.
Education provides an appreciation and great perspective for what else is done in the custom home market, says Patrick McNeil, owner/president. “The designers bring back whatever’s new, applicable to, and makes sense for what we do. They are exposed to ideas they can introduce that benefit us,” he says.
“Here, we are all students of architecture and design. We study and learn how materials are blended, what materials are more popular, what materials are timeless, and what architecture is trendy and yet strong. These are ideas our designers bring back from these educational trips.”
Good architecture takes common sense; it’s not something a person simply knows, McNeil says. “You get a sense of good architecture from studying it. When someone wants a home with Midwestern flavor, we can deliver. We have an appreciation for different styles of architecture, and force ourselves to understand what makes it great. Was it the trees? The use of materials? Great architecture is a sum of all this.”
It’s not important for clients to understand everything a builder understands about great architecture, but it is important for them to stick to the selection schedule. Selection is difficult to complete before breaking ground because it places pressure on owners to make decisions before they might be ready, he says.
“We explain to them, ‘It’s your home and we’re here to help you make decisions. However, here’s when we need those selections.’” Builders must get decisions, on time, and help clients make decisions because that’s a builder’s job, McNeil says.
When clients have no idea of what their home should look like, a good builder takes control. “Then it’s your job to ask them where they have lived before, and what’s their favorite home. We take them on virtual tours and eventually we create the home of their dreams.”