Building With Nature Partner Website

North Country Builders adds Beauty to the Natural Setting

“Our goal is to build homes that look as though they belong as naturally to the site as the firs and cottonwoods, as permanently as the weather-worn rocks, and as gracefully as the waving grasses,” explains Leo Keane, owner of North Country Builders, Inc. in Whitefish, Montana and a 30-year veteran of building custom homes, as he takes time from his day to talk. “We expect our homes to blend in with nature and not detract from or ruin the site.”

Give Life and Spirit to the Garden
For Leo Keane, building sustainably is an extension of who he is and how he approaches his profession rather than just a green builder’s checklist. Asked about his inspirations, he recounts a story that confirms his outlook. “Recently I visited an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, and I found a book entitled, The Home Book of the Picturesque by Washington Irving, dated 1851. I especially loved this quote: Leo goes on to explain, “Of course when this was written, homes were built from timbers hewn from the surrounding forest and upon foundations assembled with stones gathered from a nearby hillside by men and women caring for their families and farms. Then it occurred to me: this is what is missing from our mission statement, and this is what sets us apart from others doing business as professional builders.”

And what does their mission statement say about how North Country Builders builds homes? “Our mission has always been to focus on unique craftsmanship, enduring value, thoughtful guidance and communication, trustworthy and friendly employees, honest accounting, as well as the necessary references to the importance of budgets and schedules,” Leo responds.

“Yet, I’ve always felt that as a sought-after builder of fine homes in the Whitefish area, our clients should expect nothing less. In fact, I consider these the prerequisites of good building and good business. But even if budgets, schedules, and accurate accounting might keep me awake at night, these are not the reasons I jump out of bed in the morning.”

Putting it Into Context
That poses an interesting question. What does motivate a builder to jump out of bed every day and to excel? No one argues that building homes is a tough job. It is perhaps one of the few careers available to our modern generation that totally challenges one’s strength, agility, quickness, intelligence, creativity and problem solving. And that is just at the job site. Returning to the office requires juggling numbers, puzzling over blueprints, and mulling decisions on bids and proposals. Leo agrees. “A mentor once explained to me that this job is too much work not to be fun. If we didn’t love it, we would go crazy.” And so, a question to Leo–do you still love it and where is the joy in working this hard and accepting so much responsibility? “That’s true,” Leo answers. “The labor of building definitely does involve the successful assembly of all the complex and often unrelated challenges of creating a home from excavating properly to spending wisely. In fact, I often tell my clients that building their home is not all that much different than building a space ship.”

“But inevitably the final and enduring joy for me happens as the last of the dump trucks and big excavators have rumbled off down the road and the tools and trailers are no longer in sight. The home stands where only months ago there was nothing but piles of lumber and a hole in the ground. Now with freshly planted trees and graceful gardens growing around the new home, it’s time to employ the builder’s Golden Rule, Step Seven—stand back and check your work. That’s what makes my heart beat: when what we have built adds beauty to what was always naturally there.” Leo’s description aptly reflects his motivation for building with nature by giving life and spirit to the Garden.

Respect, Listening, and Caring
What Leo describes as North Country Builder’s mission is actually one step deeper than green building. It is green building and then some. While his building process takes full advantage of all that new technology has to offer, most importantly the company takes the utmost care to do the least harm or impact to the surrounding landscape, takes the extra time and effort to salvage or recycle waste products, clears the home site of litter daily, and acknowledges all employees with the respect they deserve as irreplaceable craftsmen and women.

The same attitude of respect extends to listening and caring about the client. “That’s my job, to make certain the client’s vision gets built, and to take complete responsibility for the project. The heart of this is listening and communication. For the homeowner, architect, and the trades, I am the listener and the conductor of information. I have been told that this is something our clients think differentiates us from other builders. When it comes to careful communication, we take it seriously, and we don’t skimp.”

North Country Builders is the thoroughly modern, go-to builders for thoughtful yet demanding clients. They believe that when they pack up their tools and drive away they have gotten it right when the home improves upon the landscape and the homeowners wave goodbye with smiles on their faces. Call North Country Builders, Inc. when you are ready to add “life and spirit” to your own special place in the world.

O. 406.862.5812 • C. 406.885.3999 • 844 Baker Avenue Whitefish, Montana •

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